Though it is billed as the “teen” Read Across Lawrence pick, Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez is a highly recommended read for adults as well. Told through alternating perspectives, it is a story of friendship and conflict between teens from two different worlds, their families, and their communities. Tyler is the son of a Vermont dairy farm family in need of assistance in order to save their farm. Mari is the eldest daughter in a family of migrant workers who come to work for them. When Tyler learns that Mari’s family is in the country illegally and that his parents knew this when they were hired, the first of many questions about right and wrong surrounding immigration is raised. The reader must come to their own conclusions, though, as Return to Sender doesn’t provide any easy answers.
Miriam Wallen, Young Adult Librarian and coordinator for the Teen Zone, encourages readers to be inspired into action and help in sending books to immigrant children in the United States. Throughout the month of February, we will be collecting small donations to help purchase Spanish language and dual-language children’s books that will be sent to groups who work with immigrant children, especially with those traveling alone.
This book drive was inspired by REFORMA, a part of the American Library Association, and its Children in Crisis Program. REFORMA sends books to charities that work with immigrant children, as well as to border patrol facilities and pro-bono legal representatives.
You can read more about their activities in these articles:
- REFORMA Brings Books, Backpacks,and Support to Unaccompanied Minors
- A Path Forward: How Libraries Support Refugee Children
If you would like to contribute, look for the donation box at any Read Across Lawrence/ Big Read teen or adult programs. Alternatively, you can check out the list of requested books here or donate any Spanish Language or dual-language (Spanish and English) books you don’t need. Just drop them off in the Teen Zone!
If you are interested in more books about teen immigrant stories like Return to Sender, to read or discuss with your community, you can find some here!
In the words of REFORMA member and author Lucía M González:
“Un libro es un compañero que te da luz y cobijo”
(“A book is a companion that gives you light and shelter”)
-Kate Gramlich is a Reader’s Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.