The words, “Give me your tired, your poor…” are familiar to adults and children alike. That inscription on the Statue of Liberty has become an iconic bit of Americana. But what do young readers know about the Jewish author of those words? Emma Lazarus was a talented and passionate woman whose love of poetry began in childhood. Her father nurtured her writing ambitions. He self-published a book of her teenage poems and introduced her to her favorite writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who then became her mentor. She found inspiration all around her: nature, war, an historic synagogue — and soon became a well-known poet and political activist. Emma Lazarus was particularly affected by the condition of Russian Jews both in Eastern Europe and as immigrants on American shores. When approached to write a poem about the soon-to-be dedicated Statue of Liberty, Emma’s first response was that she “can not write to order…poetry must come from the heart.” And that’s where her immortal words came from. While Erica Silverman’s well-crafted words describe the spirit and passion of Emma Lazarus, the beautifully stylized fullcolor illustrations by Stacey Schuett capture the times in which she lived. It is important to note that through those words and illustrations young readers will realize the Jewish influences on Emma’s immortal The New Colossus. Highly recommended. For ages 5 – 9.
Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus
September 1, 2011
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