Do I Belong Here? / ¿Es este mi lugar?
The experiences of newcomer students in schools are portrayed in this winning, bilingual picture book.
by René Colato Laínez
Illustrations by Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Publication Date: May 31, 2023
Imprint: Piñata Books
An immigrant boy stands “in the middle of a whirlwind of children,” and wonders where he is supposed to go. Finally, a woman speaks to him in a language he doesn’t understand and takes him to his classroom. A boy named Carlos helps orient him, but later when he reads aloud, everyone laughs at him. And when he gets an “F” on an assignment, he is sure “I do not belong here.”
But gradually the boy begins to learn English. He works hard. He always pays attention, finishes his homework and—most importantly—never gives up. He begins to recognize words. “I understand now. Open is abrir, books are libros and page is página.” And when the kids invite him to play soccer, he thinks, “Maybe I belong here.” As the boy’s grades improve and he make friends, he realizes, “I belong here.” And when he sees a girl looking lost, sure she doesn’t belong, he can say with certainty: “Not yet. But you will.”
Award-winning children’s book author René Colato Laínez teams up again with illustrator Fabricio Vanden Broeck to explore the experiences of newcomers in schools and affirm that yes! They do belong. With beautiful acrylic-on-wood illustrations depicting children at school, this bilingual kids’ book by a Salvadoran immigrant tells an important story that will resonate with all kids who want nothing more than to belong.