Same Here! The Differences We Share
Same Here! The Differences We Share
Hello! I’m Erica, and I love to talk. Sometimes Mom and Dad say they should have named me Chatterbox!
I said my first words before I was even one year old. They were dah woozh, si, and “hi.” Dah woozh is how you say “strawberry” in Navajo. My mom is a member of the Navajo Nation and grew up speaking both Navajo and English. Si is how you say “yes” in Spanish. My dad grew up speaking Spanish and English in his family. And I said “hi” because Mom and Dad speak English to me, too!
So I know words in three languages. I love how words connect me to my family and our history! (United States)
Same here! I know lots of words in Ugandan Sign Language and English. But my very first word was “ball.” (Uganda)
Same Here! The Differences We Share introduces and celebrates the differences children around the world share. And more importantly, despite the many different ways of our lives, everyone in the world has the same needs – needs that unite us no matter where we grow up and what languages we speak. We all need to communicate, to feel loved and protected; we all need shelter, need to learn and eat; we all need to help our families, need community; we all need to play and dream.
Same Here! is an ambitious book that tries to present a very big, deep, and somewhat abstract concept – a concept even scholars and researchers struggle to explain and showcase well in plain language. Not to mention, the audience of this book is children! Award-winning author Susan Hughes is very brave to take on this challenging task. And I have to say, after reading the book, and reading it again with my 7 and 4-year-old daughters, that mission was accomplished wonderfully! Setting off with the question: “If children from all over the world met to share stories about their lives, what would they discover?”, Hughes builds an imaginary stage with words. Children from different cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds are invited to step on the stage, sit in a circle, and exchange lived experiences with one another. The dialogical writing style is both accessible and inviting. On the one hand, conversational narratives are easy for children, especially the younger ones and the ones who are learning English as an additional language to comprehend and make connections; on the other hand, children are naturally more drawn to conversations, and they are eager to join in, share their own stories, and enrich the performance on the stage.
Sophie Casson’s illustrations are another highlight of the book. Her bold choices of bright colours and use of large colour blocks emphasize the focus of the narratives and attract young readers’ attention. Sophie obviously did intensive research on the cultures, lifestyles, and environments in each community mentioned in the book. Her illustrations well reflect the details in every child’s sharing. This is extremely important in a book like this – truthfully and authentically presenting detailed pictures inside diverse countries and cultural communities – because it allows children to see themselves and their lives represented through their own eyes in children’s literature, and it also invites learning and re-learning of others’ experiences.
I envision Same Here! serving as a great prompt book to read before a meaningful learning activity and/or dramatic play in a classroom or a community library. It’ll be a wonderful opportunity for children, youth, and adults to learn about each other, the community, and the world.
Emma Chen is a Ph.D. Candidate with a research focus on immigrant parent knowledge and heritage language education at the University of Saskatchewan.