The kid down the block looks nothing like you.
His parents don’t look like your parents, either. You go to different churches, eat different things, and the clothes in your closet are nothing like what he wears. He lives right down the block, but it feels like another world. Still, as in the new book “W is for Welcome” by Brad Herzog, you’re more alike than you think.
Chances are, you’re old enough to know your A-B-Cs. If you do, then you know that it begins with A and in this book, “A is for America,” which is made of many people whose ancestors came from somewhere else. “C is for Cultures,” which is what they brought with them when they arrived.
“F is for Freedom,” and that’s what we enjoy here. For many centuries, people have come to America for the freedom to pray to the God of choice, to speak out, to protest, and to travel wherever they want to go. There’s freedom for newspapers to print the truth, and the freedom to read it.
For many Immigrants (which is what “I” stands for), it was a long J for Journey to get to America. Albert Einstein was an immigrant. So were Nikola Tesla and Andrew Carnegie. So were astronaut José Hernández, our Statue of Liberty, the co-creator of Google, the creators of YouTube, and many other “brilliant thinkers.”
But becoming an American citizen isn’t easy. There’s a long process to become N for Naturalization, and it includes an O for Oath. There’s paperwork to fill out, tests to take, and a huge ceremony for celebrating when the process is done. It takes time to make the Q for Quest and to start life in a new, somewhat-unfamiliar country but it’s worth it to live in the U for United States.
The thing to remember is that “V is for Voices” and every immigrant has one with a unique story to tell. You can hear some of those tales by visiting Ellis Island, reading books by immigrants, and listening to those who show their Z for Zeal at being brand-new Americans.
There’s a lot to like about “W is for Welcome,” and it starts with the text by author Brad Herzog.
Like many of the books in this alphabet series, “W is for Welcome” will grow with your child. On the inner parts of each page is a four-line verse simple enough for a preschooler to grasp. On the outer edges, Herzog uses more advanced language and bigger concepts to explain diversity, immigration, and history in a way that older children can understand clearly. What’s between these features is likewise important: the artwork for each letter of the alphabet is done by acclaimed artists and illustrators, offering not just one, but multiple ways of perceiving the words – and the world - inside.
Find this book for your 3-to-5-year-old, but know that your current-events-aware 6-to-10-year-old may want it, too. “W is for Welcome” is a book you can all like, and one they’ll be looking for.