Saturday, February 25, 2017

R.D. Eno reads: "My Name is Sangoel"

Written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Catherine Stock

Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him.

When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one is able to pronounce his name. Lonely and homesick, he finally comes up with an ingenious solution to this problem, and in the process he at last begins to feel at home.

This poignant story of identity and belonging helps young readers understand the plight of the millions of children in the world who are refugees.

R.D. read the book to students in the second and third grade at Union School, then took out his banjo (an instrument whose origins are in Africa) and taught the kids a Sudanese children's song. When they had learned the song, he played a recording of Sudanese children singing the same song, and the Vermont children spontaneously sang along!

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