Nearly everyone has, at one point in their life, felt the need to change themselves to fit in. Moving to a new city, starting at a new school, meeting a new friend, there’s always an underlying feeling that perhaps if we changed ourselves that we’d be better received. While this feeling may ebb and flow in our lives as we grow and mature, it’s something that most people can find relatable. One of the best ways to combat these feelings is through reading stories about how to embrace our identity and forge through the turbulent paths of making friends in a new environment.
Cardinal Rule Press is excited about our upcoming picture book It’ll be Irie, by Donn Swaby and illustrated by Alejandra Barajas, which focuses on the feelings that come with moving to a new place, as well as embracing one's own cultural identity. It’ll be Irie focuses on Raymond, who moves to America from Jamaica, is excited to try and make himself more American, but finds out that it’s hard to make friends when he’s not being true to himself. The story is relatable for everyone who has ever felt the need to fit in, but even more so for those who have faced the culture shock that can come with immigration. If you’re looking for more books to read while waiting for the release of It’ll be Irie, check out these books which focus on the feelings that come about when trying to fit in, especially in terms of being in a new place.
If you’re looking for more books about embracing one's identity, especially in terms of immigration, check out these recommendations while we await the release of It’ll be Irie:
A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon
An oldie but a goodie, A Bad Case of the Stripes focuses on Camilla, who in an attempt to fit in refuses to eat her favorite food: lima beans. This leads to all kinds of mayhem in her life- particularly her body being covered in bright, rainbow stripes. This story focuses on how the desire to fit in, along with giving up a part of your identity, can lead to feelings of lost identity and how embracing the things that make you you are the ones that make you happiest.
All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino
All the Way to America focuses on the journey of a small shovel through generations of an immigrant family. This book focuses on family history, and how one's culture can be woven into their identity, even if your family immigrated generations ago. This book has the ability to spark conversation about your family heritage, while also providing some historical detail about the journey some immigrants faced when they entered America.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
The main character in The Name Jar, Unhei, struggles with fitting in when she arrives in America. She feels torn between her Korean identity and wanting to fit in with the other kids in her new class. In particular, she feels like her name is holding her back from fitting in. Unhei goes on a journey of learning to balance both her identities, as well as learning that the things she was trying to change are some of the things that her new classmates find to be the most special about her.
Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim
Danbi is nervous for her first day in her new American school. She tries to make friends, but she doesn’t understand the games the kids play or the way the teacher speaks. Danbi Leads the School Parade focuses on the fear and confusion some kids may face when entering a new school, but shows that even when you might not understand one another, you can make new friends through sharing and playing.
Meredith McDonnell is an intern at Cardinal Rule Press and recent graduate from Michigan State. In her freetime she enjoys writing short stories, hiking the trails of Michigan, and spending time with her cat Olive.