Linda Glaser provides a gentle introduction to activist Emma Lazarus in her picture book, “Emma’s Poem.”  She introduces to young reader how Lazarus was born into wealth and privilege in the United States.  Coupled with Nivola’s lovely paintings, Glaser clearly conveys how people in Lazarus’s social class were able to read, have parties, collect art, and generally aspire to great things.

Then Glaser shows us how Lazarus begins to develop her social conscience.  When Lazarus begins to meet and talk to recent Jewish immigrants from Europe, she learns just how lucky her life has been and how difficult their lives have been.  Lazarus takes on the task of becoming an advocate for these new immigrants.

Glaser focuses primarily on Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” which was written to help raise funds for the base of the Statue of Liberty.  We get a lovely account of how this poem began to take on a life of its own, recreating our image of the Statue of Liberty as a greeter of all the immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island.

This book does a lovely job of introducing children both to the poem and to the cultural world that gave it birth.