Check out my new web site, Second Generation Stories

  • May 25, 2012 5:58 pm

Anzia Yezierska immigrated from Poland as a child. She was a famous Jewish-American writer in the 1920s.

My new web site is Second Generation Stories: Literature by Children of Immigrants (www.SecondGenStories.com).

The site features book lists of dozens of authors who were born into immigrant families, or who immigrated to the U.S. as children. For example, Mario Puzo (author of The Godfather) was a child of Italian immigrants. William Saroyan, a playwright and fiction writer, was the child of Armenian immigrants.

The second generation often face unique challenges which cut across cultures. First-generation immigrant Americans tend to have strong ties to the home country, yet consciously chose to come to the United States. Their children, on the other hand, often have weak ties to the home country and had no choice about being raised in the United States.

The study of immigrant literature often throws first-generation immigrant writers into the same category as their children. In fact, the children of immigrants, second-generation Americans, may have very different perspectives from their parents.

How Ella Grew an Electric Guitar

  • January 29, 2012 5:44 pm

 

This is a fun book to introduce kids to business. Eleven-year-old Ella, who has formed a band with three of her friends, desperately wants an electric guitar. In the process of trying to come up with the money to buy it, she learns about interest, the stock market, running a small business, marketing, and business loans. These concepts are introduced in a low-key way as part of the story.

My husband read this to our 9-year-old son, and they both enjoyed the story. My husband is an entrepreneur, and he felt the financial concepts in this book were sound.

One of the authors, Orly Sade, is a professor of finance, and the other, Ellen Neuborne, is a writer. They’ve done a great job of teaching financial concepts within the context of a compelling story.

I’ve included this book on my girls list.

Gift that Gives All Year: New Moon Girls

  • December 18, 2011 12:02 pm

If you’re looking for a great gift for the girl in your life, consider a membership to New Moon Girls, a moderated online community and ad-free magazine (6 issues per year). The magazine and online community, for girls ages 8-14, are both designed to build self-esteem and positive body image.

Every issue of the print magazine, which is run by an editorial board made up of girls, emphasizes inner beauty over outer beauty, and contains advice from girls to girls. A recent issue featured a profile of artist Frida Kahlo, an article on animals that use camouflage, and real-life examples of girls taking action to create a better world.

Sita’s Ramayana

  • November 12, 2011 9:31 am

 

This graphic novel is an interesting retelling of the Hindu epic The Ramayana from the point of view of Sita, the queen of Ayodhya. The words are written by Samhita Arni, who as a child wrote an absorbing retelling of another Hindu epic: The Mahabharata: A Child’s View. The colorful, dramatic, appealing pictures are by Moyna Chitrakar, a folk artist who lives in West Bengal, India.

Sita is not known for being particularly active or assertive. In fact, her obedience and devotion to her husband Rama are legendary. Yet by focusing on Sita’s point of view, this retelling has something to say about a woman’s perspective on war and justice.

The story begins at the end, with the queen Sita entering the forest and begging the forest to shelter her. The forest wants to know why she was banished from Ayodhya, and she tells her story.

This retelling emphasizes Sita’s compassion for other women, including those who are considered enemies by the men. She believes that Lakshmana’s rash decision to cut off the demoness Surpanaka’s nose is the cause of her (Sita’s) abduction and the war in Lanka. “Violence breeds violence, and an unjust act only begets greater injustice,” Sita says.

When she is Ravana’s prisoner in Lanka, Sita becomes close to one of her demoness guards: Trijatha, who, unlike the other guards, feels compassion for Sita. It is Trijatha who tells Sita the story of the war between Rama and Ravana.

As much as Sita is overjoyed that Rama won the war, she still feels compassion for Mandodari, Ravana’s widow, as well as for all the other “enemy” women. “They would be queens no more, and their people had met death on the battlefield–for what? For one man’s unlawful desire. . . . It was such a high price to pay.”

The story also features a few other powerful females, including an apsara (divine female) who warns Hanuman about a sorcerer, and the goddess Chandi Devi.

In the end, of course, even Sita’s devotion to Rama cannot help her against the rumors that surround her because of her sojourn with Ravana. Sita finally makes a decision to leave Rama and return to her mother, the Earth.

I have included this book on my girls’ list.

Sparking Revolution: Engaging Youth through Literature

  • September 17, 2011 1:13 pm

If you’re in the New York City area, I invite you to attend the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective literary festival on September 23-24 at Revolution Books. I will be speaking on a panel entitled “Sparking Revolution: Engaging Youth through Literature.”

Please follow this link for more information: http://www.sawcc.org/openfire/