When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Reflecting on refugees of the past gives invaluable perspective when learning about refugees in our own day and age. When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a lovely children's book that recounts the story of Jessie, a young teen from eastern Europe who was given the opportunity by her rabbi to travel to America and start a new life there. While Jessie is fictional, her story is not unlike that of many others immigrating from Europe to America at the turn of the 19th century. In publishing this book, both the text and illustrations were checked for historical authenticity by the staff of The Jewish Museum in New York City.
Jessie's is a story of love, perseverance, sacrifice, and hope. Her motives and journey provide insight as to one reason why someone may leave their home country for another. As a descendant of European immigrants myself, I am reminded to reflect on my own family history and how my life would be different if my ancestors had not crossed the sea so long ago. As I read When Jessie Came Across the Sea to my daughters, I am inspired to have compassion on the refugees in my country and community today.
This beautiful book is a great way to start a conversation with kids about refugees in the past. I would recommend When Jessie Came Across the Sea to children ages 5 - 10.
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