When I finished reading reading A Different Pond by Bao Phi the first time, I sat holding the book for a long time. In silence. I was taking it all in. From the minute you open the book and read the dedication page that says, "For my family and for refugees everywhere", you know you're about to read something powerful.
The story takes us on a day in the life of this family where everyone works hard to contribute to the well being of the family. The young boy and his dad go fishing early in the morning but not for the sport of it, but because of the need for food. Living between cultures, language and memories, the author invites us to take a glimpse in the life of many families who strives to restart their new lives in a new place.
When reading this book, please read the authors note on the back because it adds deeper layers of understanding and appreciation. As Bao Phi shares,
I understand the author's intention very well. Some families are open to discussing their past or traditions because it's part of who they are. Other families prefer to put those stories behind them as they construct a new life in a new country. I understand and respect both perspective because I work with many immigrants and refugee families. I always advocate for trying to understand as much about a child as possible because their stories are part of their identity. But I also acknowledge silence and the choice to privacy.
I hope this book is shared in many classrooms. I hope this book opens up conversations and possibilities. On the surface, it's a great mentor text for teaching small moments. On a deeper level, this book offers a great opportunities for conversations and understandings for anyone who reads it.