MEXICO — Anne Sibley O’Brien hopes her books will make a difference in how children from different cultures see each other.

The Peak’s Island author and illustrator brought her books and views to Meroby Elementary School during Read Across America Week and the school’s annual Maine author visit.

O’Brien, who has written and/or illustrated 31 books over 29 years, spent much of her childhood in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries. She was welcomed by the South Korean people and it’s a major influence in her books, she said.

She writes about people of all ages from around world – a Cambodian family living in Portland, an Iranian family living in Scarborough — and many stories are about children, customs and traditions in South Korea.

“I want children to use their own experience to connect with others, and what we all have in common,” she said.

One of her books includes a dragon, which fourth-grader Lindsey Derouche really liked. O’Brien taught youngsters how to draw dragons as she introduced her book, “The Legend of Hong Kil Dong.”

“I like dragons and it’s really cool because the people in the stories speak different languages,” said Lindsey, who was bringing the book home with her.

O’Brien said there are more opportunities for children to learn about other cultures now.

“We’re so connected through the Internet. The children will be interacting with people different from themselves,” she said.

Eileen Pew, literacy coach and the major organizer of the annual event, said the school hosts an author ceach year during Read Across America Week. She said the themes of O’Brien’s books also reflect the Meroby code: Be respectful, be safe, be kind and be responsible.

O’Brien made presentations to grades pre-kindergarten to five on Monday and Tuesday, and was featured during Parents Night on Monday, when more than 60 people attended.


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