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January 2020

Pelham Memorial High School teacher Megan Rice & Carmel high school teacher Jennifer Zupan

Hearts & Homes for Refugees Launches Refugees in Literature

Hearts & Homes for Refugees launched its latest program Refugees in Literature, a curated list of books written by and about refugees for use in schools and libraries at the 2019 Annual Conference of Westchester Lower Hudson Council for the Social Studies.


Hearts & Homes has been responding to the unprecedented global crisis on the local level in many ways in here in Westchester County since 2017.   Their work includes resettling refugees as community sponsors,   formalizing a coalition of county wide support, sharing opportunities to advocate for refugees, providing assistance to refugees and asylees, and building more welcoming communities. Part of building welcoming communities includes educating others about refugees and asylees.  “Stories are a powerful currency that encourage conversation and critical thinking.  Humanizing the conflicts and those involved helps counter the anti-stranger narratives and correct misperceptions that lead to intolerance and prejudice,” said Kathie O’Callaghan, founder of Hearts & Homes for Refugees.


Hearts & Homes organized a volunteer team of eight educators, led by Pelham Memorial High School Social Studies teacher Megan Rice, who selected and reviewed the list of books appropriate for grades K-12. The team also included Jane Dixon, ESL Instructor in Westchester, Dr. Christine Hardigree, Assistant Professor of Adolescent Literacy at Iona College, Stephanie Paul, Library Media Specialist at Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, Mary Piscina, a former Special Education Teacher, Julie Scallero, Co-Director of Education at the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center, Annie Solimine, Reading Specialist at Pelham Middle School, and Alyson Walmsley, a Speech-Language Pathologist & Learning Specialist. Each book was read and vetted by a minimum of two educators. The guide includes resources for classroom discussions.


“Our educators and their classrooms are vital to teaching our children to accept and feel compassion for others, and we salute them for their commitment.”


To view the reading guide, go to http://bit.ly/RIL_HHR.