Children of the Orphan Trains

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Children of the Orphan Trains is the true story of the American Indian children sent away from their people and forced to learn European culture and customs.  Some of these children were orphans; others were not.  These children hoped to perform well enough to be adopted.  Some children succeeded while others ran away or died.

Children of the Orphan Trains is a good choice for second and third graders and connects to American history.  The book is illustrated with photographs.  The photographs have text captions, which is an important feature to point out to students.  Before reading the captions, I would ask students to infer what is happening in each photograph and to predict the emotions the Indian children felt.  At the end of reading, students would have the opportunity to write how they would feel if they were forced to leave home and become a member of a different society.

Littlefield, H.  (2001).  Children of the orphan trains.  Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.

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Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War

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Last Airlift is the true story of a Vietnamese orphan named Tuyet.  During the fall of Saigon, orphans were airlifted out of the country.  Most of these orphans were babies, but Tuyet was allowed to go to help calm the crying babies on the airlift.  Tuyet was adopted by a Canadian family, who helped adjust to life in a new family and the new culture of the country.

This book is for fourth through sixth graders.  Last Airlift is a great addition to the classroom library because it is non-fiction, which I would promote as much as possible.  The story provides integration with history as it will provoke discussion of the Vietnam War.  I would break the story into several sections and have each student create a timeline of the events in the book.

Skrypuch, M.  (2013).  Last airlift: A vietnamese orphan’s rescue from war.  Toronto: Pajama Press.