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Children's Fiction Emigration & Immigration

My Words Flew Away Like Birds

by (author) Debora Pearson

illustrated by Shrija Jain

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Emigration & Immigration, New Experience, Friendship
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3
  • Reading age: 4 to 8


A poetically told immigration story that fosters understanding and beautifully articulates how the desire to belong and the need for human connection are universal.

A little girl learns some words in a new language to prepare for her move to a new country. But when she, her mother and her father arrive, “all her words fly away like birds.” The girl waits, and watches, and listens, trying to figure things out. Only, it's hard. Then one day the girl meets someone who needs her help. And as she makes a new friend, she finds that the new words start to come easier --- becoming her words, at last.

Beautifully written in engaging and accessible free verse, this poignant story offers a powerful lesson in empathy for children everywhere. The story is inspired by the many newcomer families Debora Pearson has met in her work as a children's librarian in a bustling urban center. Both timely and universal, it provides young children with an opportunity to expand their worldview and be inspired by how the heroine prevails and finds connection. Shrija Jain's simple, whimsical illustrations add playfulness and warmth to the narrative. A perfect read-aloud, this sweet and sensitive picture book encourages all children to celebrate inclusion and highlights the character education traits of resilience, kindness and empathy. There are links here to social studies lessons on community, global awareness and cultural awareness.

About the authors

Deborah Pearson, a former children's librarian for the Toronto Public Library, is an award-winning author and editor. She lives in Toronto.

Debora Pearson's profile page

Shrija Jain is an illustrator living in Oakville, Ontario, and a graduate of the illustration program at Sheridan College. My Words Flew Away Like Birds is her debut picture book.

Shrija Jain's profile page

Editorial Reviews

This picture book will also be a great resource for young children who have immigration experience as it allows them to see themselves and know that they are not alone.—CM Magazine

Jain contributes doodle-like pen and ink artwork ... in this approachable, empathic tale.

Publishers Weekly

... demonstrates the complexities and meanings found within language and how difficult that can be to understand.

School Library Connection

A frank and optimistic picture book about learning to live in a new language.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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