A breathtakingly simple poem of universal experience shows us the transformative power of collective action.
"Together offers a vision of the world we want for our children, one in which all living things flourish, our communities thrive, and justice prevails.” —Ibram X. Kendi, author of Antiracist Baby
In Together, social justice kids book pioneer Innosanto Nagara teams up with poet and activist Mona Damluji for a stunningly tender and pitch-perfect visual feast that juxtaposes individual action with the power of people acting together. Each of the ten free-verse couplets in the poem is spread across four pages of imagery, to make a unique and different kind of board book for young kids to discover with their families.
The first illustrated book in which Nagara applies his extraordinary visual imagination to words not his own, Together is simplicity itself—a poem about the transformational change that happens when people stop acting alone and start doing things together. Together is Nagara's third board book, following the immensely popular social justice board books A is for Activist and Counting on Community.
“I want you to know” by Mona Damluji
From Mona Damluji, author of Together with illustrations by Innosanto Nagara, a poem for her children, an attempt to explain the Iraq War as a family with roots in Iraq and Lebanon:
How do I speak with my children about war? I have no idea. And yet I struggle to find the words to begin. Twenty years ago today the United States invaded Iraq. I offer this poem as a way to begin.
I want you to know that you came from a people and a place that was beautiful. I want you to know that your ancestors loved and laughed and danced and played and worked and cared in this place surrounded by their own beauty. That they called this place home.
I want you to know that they weren’t perfect, your ancestors, because no one is. But they lived in dignity.
I want you to know that what took it away, what made this place unsafe, was greed. The greed of people from another place who already had more than they need. Those people who had it all, and still wanted more. They made war. They made horrible, ugly, impossible war.
The war took away buildings. Took away homes. It took away families. Made it unsafe to breathe. Unsafe to drink. Unsafe to stay. Made so many leave.
And the thing about war is that it does not end when the generals say so. War keeps burning. It burns in the hearts, in the minds, in the pockets, in the limbs. It keeps burning in all those who witnessed, all those displaced, and all those who remember. It burns in our questions. It burns in our pain.
The war is a fire that set ablaze to the street my grandparents called home. It turned off the lights. It made day into night. And so they left, like all those who left before.
That fire burns inside of me. The fire that made it unsafe to stay, that keeps me from returning one day.
And it’s inside of you too. I want you to know it. I want you to feel it. Because if you don’t see it, it might still grow.
However far away we are now, however many miles, however many years, I want you to know you are still of the place that your ancestors know. The one that they called home.
March 20, 2023