Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien

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Summary

Imagine you have a learner in your classroom from another country. They speak their native language. How do you include them in your conversations to learn their perspective? Someone New illustrates how to welcome diverse learners in the classroom. Three different scenarios describe what it looks like and feels like to see a new student. American children tell their stories with open honesty. We hear ideas that readers can connect with. The narrators notice that the new students are uncomfortable, but they don’t know how to help. Because they are empathetic, they find ways to talk with their new friends. The casual narration invites readers to see what the children think. We see them process their thoughts. The illustrations add depth to the story by helping us read emotions. This relevant story deserves a prominent place in any collection.

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Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow II.D.2 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by demonstrating interest in other perspectives during learning activities. 

  • Ask learners to think about a time when they were in a group discussion. Did they notice someone sitting quietly? What did they do to include them in the conversation?
  • Introduce the story Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Explain that while you read, their job is to notice how the children in the book engage with the new students.
  • Ask learners why it’s important to make connections with other students. What can we learn from other people? Why do different opinions matter?
  • Explain that sometimes, people don’t share their opinions during group discussions. Ask why that might be. Brainstorm ideas to make sure everyone contributes in a discussion. Think about different ways people can contribute without using words. Develop strategies to listen to different opinions and add to the discussion.

Extend this lesson by reading I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien. It’s the same story as Someone New. However, this time, immigrants tell the story. Children will hear a different perspective and build empathy after reading this relevant story.

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