Milwaukee Public Library
Press Release

Milwaukee Public Library to Host “Coming to America” Reading Group


By - Aug 4th, 2020 08:20 am

Milwaukee Public Library today announced a program made possible by a partnership with The Yiddish Book Center, with funding from Sharon Karmazin. The program, “Coming to America” Reading Groups for Public Libraries, is one in which librarians arrange reading groups to discuss three books of Yiddish literature in translation, and one book related to an immigrant community served by their library.

Using Yiddish literature as a portal, the virtual program will feature Yiddish literature in translation that explores questions of identity, assimilation, language, cuisine, and generational change, presenting American identity as an ongoing conversation, a dialogue between insiders and outsiders, and will compare these works written in the early 20th century to works by contemporary immigrant writers.

The goals of the program are: to introduce libraries and the public to Yiddish literature in the context of the broader immigrant experience in coming to America; and to help prompt and inform discussions about American immigration experiences—a topic as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago.

Under the partnership guidelines, MPL was to select one contemporary book with a “Coming to America” story and chose a Hmong family memoir by Kao Kalia Yang called The Latehomecomer. Yang will make a virtual appearance, open to the public, on October 26, 2020.

“We are so excited to offer this opportunity to explore stories of immigrant experiences through works of Yiddish literature,” said Library Director Paula Kiely. “ ‘Coming to America’” will give participants a chance to experience the immigration journey through the lens of the Eastern European Jewish and Hmong communities and to reflect on Milwaukee’s own history as a city partly comprised of immigrant communities.” 

“Coming to America” virtual reading groups begin August 12 and continue through November 18. Patrons will receive a copy of the book while supplies last. For more information, and a complete schedule, visit

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