Day Saida Arrived (The Day Saida Arrived)

day saida arrived

2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist

Two girls forge a forever-friendship by learning each other’s language. The Day Saida Arrived demonstrates the power of language to build bonds beyond borders.

What happens when a new friend arrives who doesn’t speak your language? A young girl searches for the words to help her friend feel welcome and happy in her new home, and along the way learns about differences and similarities in countries and words. The two forge a strong bond while they each learn the other’s language, exploring the world around them.

A joyous, lyrical text―including English translations and pronunciations and the complete Arabic alphabet―offers an accessible, fresh approach to talking about immigration. Paired with lushly vivid illustrations, The Day Saida Arrived demonstrates the power of language to build bonds beyond borders. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.---from the publisher

32 pages                    978-1733121255                  Ages 4-7

Keywords:  immigrants, new experiences, friends, friendship, fitting in, helping others, understanding others, immigration, Arabic alphabet, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, multicultural, diverse books, diversity, social situations, social skills


If you are looking for a story about how friendship and kindness can overcome obstacles such as a language barrier, then you need this book. The young narrator explains that she tries to find Saida's words, but her parents explain that the words aren't lost. When she learns that Saida comes from Morocco and knows different words for things, the girls begin to share their words. As they teach each other the English and Arabic names for things, the words are shown in the illustrations in both languages.

The lyrical description of how Saida "drew them with those letters that sometimes looked like flowers and other times like insects" captures the allure of learning a new way to write words. The narrator repeats the words Saida shares "slowly so that the sounds would become rooted in my memory and on my lips." And for those who wish that all new acquaintances could be so welcoming to each other, there is the plan to someday visit Saida's "land of spices and camels" and, when that day comes, to "happily throw overboard unwelcome words like border."

For those trying to build a more diverse and welcoming collection, this story of immigration and friendship is a good addition to your shelves.
Recommended by:  Suzanne Costner, Librarian, Tennessee USA
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The day Saida arrived at the school she seemed to have lost her words and instead of joy and laughter there were tears and sadness. Her new classmate hunted high and low for the words but could not find them so instead, she drew a heart in chalk and Saida drew a smile.  The first breakthrough!

When her dad explains that Saida probably hasn't lost her words, it was just that her words wouldn't work in this country, the little girl sets out to teach Saida the new words she needs as well as learning Saida's words.  What follows is the beginning of a joyous, lifelong friendship that is so characteristic of our children when confronted with this sort of language problem. They work it out, find common ground, ignore boundaries and borders and learn together.

Having worked so often  in schools where English is an additional language for so many, where students with no English at all come to get that first grounding before they go to their neighbourhood school, this story is a stunning portrayal of how kids get along regardless particularly when adults don't intervene.  The playground is such a cosmopolitan learning space and whether the language is Arabic like Saida's or Tagalog or whatever,  the children's natural needs overcome barriers. Enriching friendships are formed and their words that every "shape, sound and size" just mingle naturally.

With illustrations that are as joyful as the concept and the text, this is the perfect story for this time of the year to help students understand that being in such an alien environment can be bewildering and confusing, that there will be times when they are in Saida's shoes and their words won't work, but there is always help and hope. Because the learning between the girls works both ways, the story values Saida's Arabic as much as her new friend's English so that Saida is an equal partner in the story, offering a subtle nudge for us to consider how equally we treat our NESB students. What accommodations can and do we make for those whose words don't work in our libraries and classrooms?

Teachers' notes are available and while these are written for the US, they are readily adaptable to the Australian situation..

Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, New South Wales AUSTRALIA

See more of her recommendations:

500 Hats

The Bottom Shelf

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