Book Review | Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
by Linda Glaser

Score: 4

by Linda Glaser

Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola

© 2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~ from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

I am sure I learned these words by heart in elementary school. Yet, as I was reading this marvelous book, I realized how much I did not know about this poem, its author and the times in which she lived. Emma Lazarus was able to become the voice of the Statue of Liberty because she met and supported the immigrants that came through New York. She helped them with their English and in their struggle to get jobs.  She worked on their behalf by telling the immigrants’ story through her writing and poetry. When she learned about the Statue of Liberty and the need to raise money for a pedestal to support it, she wrote The New Colossus to make the country see the new statue as a welcome sign to immigrants from all over the world.

The watercolor and gouache illustrations accompanying the simple but powerful text are outstanding and highly reflective of early 19th century artwork. They capture the glamour of the life lived by the wealthy in New York as well as the hardships faced by the immigrants both on the boats and upon arrival.

Perhaps the Congressional leaders who need to work on solving our modern immigration issues should begin their work by reading this book. Or at least remember what they learned when they memorized the verses above when they were in school.

Grade Level: K-4th

Ages: 5-10

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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One Response to “Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty”

  1. [...] A very nice book about the life of Emma Lazarus and her famous sonnet, “The New Colossus,” which is engraved in bronze on the Statue of Liberty. You may not realize you know it, but it’s the poem that includes the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This is a good read for younger readers, and especially ideal for helping them to understand what the American Dream is about. [...]


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