Picturing Home

Home is a bit of an abstract concept. While the dictionary defines home as the place where someone lives, people have been expanding that definition for many years. We have all read things or said things such as: home is where the heart is, home away from home, or home is the people who love you. At the end of the school day, we say, “It’s time to go home.” But what if “home” is where students have been all day. School can be a home for many students, others have multiple homes, and some aren’t quite sure where home is yet. There might be as many definitions of home as there are people.

In Jasmine Warga’s, Other Words for Home, Jude is coming to terms with the idea of having more than one home. Syria was her first home and it was full of people and experiences that she loved. When her brother joins the resistance against Assad’s government, Jude and her mother travel to the United States to live with an uncle, leaving her brother and father behind. At first, her uncle’s house and the United States do not feel like home to Jude. Her cousin isn’t particularly welcoming and, while Jude learned English in Syria, she is not entirely comfortable with the language.

This novel in verse chronicles Jude’s journey to find home. It certainly isn’t an easy task and home ends up being more about Jude herself than about any one place. As the school year is just starting and students are getting used to new classrooms and people, Other Words for Home might be the perfect book to share in middle grade classrooms.

Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:

Diversity 8: I want to know more about other people’s lives and experiences, and I know how to ask questions respectfully and listen carefully and non-judgmentally.

Common Core Standards:

RL.2-Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

RL.3- Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

RL.5- Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.


Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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