New Children’s Book ‘Escucha Mi Voz’ Tells the Stories of Migrant Children In Their Own Words
Courtesy Workman Publishing
Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the hearts and minds of migrant children? Are they afraid, sad? What circumstances at home forced them and their families to leave everything they’ve known behind and search for a new life in a strange land? Well, you wouldn’t be alone. A new book called “Escucha Mi Voz” is exploring those difficult questions.
Law professor and children’s rights advocate Warren Binford interviewed dozens of migrant children when visited a migrant facility in Clint, Texas in 2019.
While she was there, Binford witnessed the shocking and inhumane conditions migrants—and especially migrant children—are forced to live in. She decided to record their stories for the world to hear.
Binford compiled the harrowing stories in a picture book called “Escucha mi Voz/Hear My Voice”. Binford says she was inspired to create this project because of how difficult it was to relay these children’s stories to adult audiences. The book comes in both English and Spanish-language versions.
“People were so depressed. They would call me and say, ‘I can’t do it. I bawl my eyes out. It’s too much,'” Binford told NPR. “And so then it was like, ‘OK. How do we help people to access this knowledge that the children have given us in the children’s own words?’ “
“Escucha Mi Voz” features illustrations from 17 Latino artists, all interpreting the words of these migrant children in art form.
“Having these really fabulous artists come together and illustrate the book helps to create a more accessible point of entry into these children’s lives, and who they are, and why they came to the United States,” Binford said.
“Escucha Mi Voz” features stories from migrant children who range in age from 4 to 17. They come from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. But they all have one thing in common: they’ve experienced the trauma of displacement.
“We were kept in a cage. It is very crowded,” said one child. “There is no room to move without stepping over others. There’s not even enough room for the baby to crawl.”
“One of the guards came in yesterday afternoon and asked us how many stripes were on the flag of the United States,” said another. “We tried to guess, but when we were wrong, he slammed the door.”
Binford hopes that transforming these children’s stories into picture book-form will make their plight more accessible and relatable to American audiences.
“I hope families will actually have enough energy at the end of reading the book that they’re like, ‘What can we do?’ And, you know, ‘We’ll write to political leaders, maybe volunteer to be a sponsor or maybe volunteer to be a foster family.’ “