Drita My Homegirl
Drita My Homegirl . Lombard, Jenny; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006.
Grade Level: 3-5
ISBN & Cost: 0-3999-24380-1 $15.99
Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets:
Preferred wording: Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard. Copyright © 2006. Used with permission of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.
Synopsis: When ten-year old Drita and her family arrive as refugees from war-torn Kosovo, she is teased by the popular and sassy class clown Maxie. The two girls form an unlikely friendship as Maxie completes her punishment, a social studies report on Drita and Kosovo.
As a New York City public school teacher who often taught classes filled with many different non-English speakers, Lombard weaves her experience into the story of Drita, a fifth-grade Kosovan refugee in NYC. While it is more common to address the trials of American immigrants by reading historical fiction set during the immigrant waves of the 19 th century, Lombard helps us see the unique challenges faced by today’s immigrants. Children who catch news reports about war and violence across the globe will gain a new understanding and empathy for those affected as they “see” through the eyes of a peer. Lombard’s skillful paralleling of schoolyard bullying to the conflict in the Balkans helps demystify a complicated subject.
Themes: Refugees; Emigration and immigration; Albanian Americans; Family life – New York (State); Friendship; Schools; New York (N.Y.)
Author’s website http://www.dritamyhomegirl.com/
Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)
- How is the bullying that takes place on the playground similar to war? How is it different? Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast.
- What should the consequences be for those who bully? What should the consequences for countries that start wars be?
- Do you think that bullying and discrimination happen to non-native students in today’s classrooms? If so, do you think that over the years it has gotten better, worse, or stayed the same?
- Adults don’t always see the problems faced by young people, especially when young people don’t ask for help. What problems does Drita try to face by herself? Why doesn’t she ask for help?
- What do Drita and Maxie have in common and do you think they will become friends? Why? What is friendship and why is it so important in this book?
- Learn more about the Albanians who live in Kosovo and Albania. There are some excellent periodical articles available through SIRS Discoverer (available FREE to all schools in Kansas). Using print and digital resources, have students make a list of Top Ten Facts about Albania and/or Kosovo or write a report on the problems Albanians have experienced. (Standard 1, Benchmark 5; Standard 2, Benchmark 4)
- Interview someone who was has immigrated to the United States. Share what you learned with your class. (Standard 9, Benchmarks 1-4)
- On February 18, 2008 Kosovo declared its independence and became a new country! It is no longer part of Serbia or Yugoslavia. Provide an old ATLAS or globe as well as a current map. Compare the two maps and note the copyright on each. Describe why it is important to know about your map before you use it. (Standard 2, Benchmark 1)
- Explore the ancient and unique culture of the Albanians. Read the Albanian article in CultureGrams and practice nodding ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Albanian. Listen to traditional Albanian folk music, and look at pictures of Albania, Albanian people, and Albanian art from some of the sources listed. Have students write an acrostic poem using the word ‘Albania’ as if they were Drita, missing her homeland. (Standard 5, Benchmark ; Standard 7 Benchmark 1)
Similar Books for Further Reading
Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo. Filipovic, Zlata: Penguin, 1995.
Girl of Kosovo. Mead, Alice; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
Additional Resources about Albania/Kosovo
- "Albania." CultureGrams. World Edition. Vol. 2. Provo, UT: Proquest Information & Learning Company and Brigham Young University, 2006. 4 vols. 1-4.
- Albania: A New Mediterranian Love. 2008. 15 January 2008 <http://www.albaniantourism.com>.
- Amazon.com (keyword ‘Albanian Folk Music’)
- Boulat, Alexandra. "Eyewitness Kosovo." National Geographic February 2000: 72-83.
- Doder, Dusko. "Albania Opens the Door." National Geographic July 1992: 66-93.
- "Kosovo's Road to Independence." The Washington Post 17 February 2008.
- Rozen, Laura. "A Beginner's Guide to the Balkans." Student Briefings 19 April 1999. From SIRS Discoverer database.
- Schemo, Diana J. "Carrying Little but Hope, Albanian Refugees Begin Arriving." New York Times 6 May 1999.
- Vesilind, Pritt. "Albanians: A People Undone." National Geographic February 2000: 52-71.