According to the US Census, almost a quarter of all students in the United States are first or second generation immigrants. By 2030, the percentage of students learning English as a second language is projected to be close to 40%. Furthermore, as immigration has recently become a top concern for politicians, the number of hate crimes against people of color reached a 16 year high according to a recent FBI report. With the coronavirus being the most pressing concern today, over 2,100 anti-Asian American hate crimes were reported between the months of March and June of this year alone. And, the latest impact of COVID-19 on immigrant populations—healthcare disparities, housing instability, access to technology, and differentiated supports—have all clearly highlighted the suffering these newer Americans are experiencing. 

The American Dream may seem far from the reach of many of our immigrant and refugee students and families, but the power of literacy and reading can make all the difference in the world.

Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness is the first professional title to be dedicated to addressing a school’s reading culture with a focus on the needs of immigrant and refugee students and families—including learning their new target language, English. 

Dr. Don Vu presents six conditions of culture (Commitment, Collection, Clock, Conversation, Connection, and Celebration) that must be addressed in order to create a school environment where immigrant and refugee students can thrive. Each condition is backed by research and practical strategies are presented so that any educator can begin to make a difference in their classroom or school.

From his own refugee experience to his professional journey of leading an award-winning school nationally recognized for its reading culture, Dr. Vu allows readers to not only better understand a unique refugee perspective but open themselves up to what their own immigrant students and families are experiencing in school today.

Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness is a call to action. It’s an inspirational guide for educators who want to make a difference not only in their schools but in their country and world. It’s a testament to the transformative power of reading and how literacy can open the door for all to realize the American dream.

To be published by Scholastic Education Spring 2021.

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