WestportREADS | companion books

WestportREADS 2019 Companion Books
The topics, programs & discussions of WestportREADS include all members of the family. In that spirit, we have selected companion books for readers of all ages. These books may be borrowed from the Library . 

WestportREADS is an annual program dedicated to strengthening the community through the shared experience of a book. 


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
It's 2002, a year after 9/11. It's an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who's tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She's tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments--even the physical violence--she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she's built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He's the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her--they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds--and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she's not sure she'll ever be able to let it down.

Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross
Twelve-year-old Jacques, who must contend with difficult family dynamics and pressure from an older boy to help him commit a crime, is surprised to discover that he has much in common with Kiki, one of the many new Somali refugees who have immigrated to his Maine town.

Author Susan Ross comments, "Our WestportREADS adult book, Exit West, is a beautiful example of a novel that is able to fully capture the immigrant journey in its complexity of experience and emotion. This is the magic and wonder of fiction! In Kiki and Jacques, I hope kids can similarly feel what it's like to be inside the lives of the characters and begin to share the experience of a refugee child—as well as the challenges facing kids welcoming new and different friends to their school. When I first went to the local library in Maine to meet Somali teenagers in researching this book, the children's librarian told me something I've never forgotten: that in her experience, kids are a whole lot more alike than they are different. I looked around the library in a town that had once been largely one-dimensional and saw Somali kids doing exactly what my kids were doing at home—playing video games, chatting with friends, talking about siblings, parents, and life.

At the beginning of Kiki and Jacques, each group of kids is wary of the other -- but by the end, Jacques comes to realize through school and soccer that he and his new Somali classmates have a lot in common -- though a lot remains different, too, and that's fine."

Susan's upcoming middle grade novel, Searching for Lottie, is a contemporary Holocaust mystery based in part on her own family's immigrant and refugee story.

Someone New by Anne O’Brien Sibley
Are you new here? Do you know someone new? In I'm New Here and Someone New, young readers explore the immigrant experience through both "windows" and "mirrors." In I'm New Here, readers meet three recent immigrants trying to adjust to a new country and school. In Someone New, the same story is told from the perspective of the students who welcome the newcomers. An honest and heartwarming look at diversity, inclusion, and friendship.

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn't matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn't matter how many legs you have. Don't worry that there won't be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.