Best Children's Books About Immigration

44 Children's Books About Immigration

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
The Hundred Dresses book
#1
The Hundred Dresses
Written by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is "never going to stand by and say nothing again." This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.

Last Stop on Market Street book
#2
Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.

Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale book
#3
Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale
Written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Matthew Trueman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Before Simon sails to America, he promises his family that he will get a job and send for them. Simon's mother knows he will need a miracle, so she reminds him to celebrate Hanukkah wherever he may be. Little does either of them know that Simon will spend the first night of Hanukkah on an ice floe after his ship sinks.The lone survivor out in the wide ocean, Simon lights the first candle, and it attracts a visitor: a polar bear. Does she eat him? No! She shares his latkes, enjoys his songs, goes fishing for him, and even keeps him warm at night. By the last day of Hanukkah, Simon has nearly given up hope of ever being rescued. But then he recounts all of the miracles that have befallen him so far. Perhaps it is not too much to hope for one more, he thinks, as he lights all of the candles in the menorah. The bright glow signals a passing ship, and Simon makes it to New York after all. This fanciful Hanukkah tale-like none you've ever read before-celebrates eight miracles: family, friendship, hope, selflessness, sharing, faith, courage, and love. A retelling of the ancient Hanukkah story is included on the last page.

Gina from Siberia book
#4
Gina from Siberia
Written by Charlotte Glynn, Jane Bernstein and illustrated by Anya Desnitskaya
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Based on a true story of Gina, a wire-haired terrier, whose family snuck her out of Siberia and into the United States at the conclusion of the Cold War, this beautiful and thrilling tale follows Gina as her family travels by bus, train, car, plane, and minivan to her new home in New York City, where she slowly begins to believe that, just maybe, her new home isn’t so bad after all.

This Is Me book
#5
This Is Me
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the #1 New York Times bestselling creative team of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell comes a timely picture book about immigration. Raising important identity issues like “Where did we come from?” and “Who are we?” This Is Me is as delightful as it is important, sure to stimulate dinner table conversation. In This Is Me a teacher tells her class about her great-grandmother’s dislocating journey from home to a new country with nothing but a small suitcase to bring along. And she asks: What would you pack? What are the things you love best? What says “This is me!” With its lively, rhyming language and endearing illustrations, it’s a book to read again and again, imagining the lives of the different characters, finding new details in the art, thinking about what it would be like to move someplace completely different. It’s an interactive book, too: Tucked into the back cover is a sturdy pop-up suitcase. And as a younger reader fills the suitcase, he or she learns a lot about what really matters: Now YOU take this case/ and imagine it’s true,/ that you’re leaving and needing/ to choose what says YOU.

A Poem for Peter book
#6
A Poem for Peter
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher, Steve Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

L Is for Liberty book
#7
L Is for Liberty
Written by Wendy Cheyette Lewison and illustrated by Laura Hines
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For more than a century, the Statue of Liberty has stood proudly in New York Harbor, welcoming people from near and far. Perfect for reading together with a young child, L Is for Liberty uses simple language and bold illustrations to celebrate the statue, her history, and the freedom she stands for.

In the New World book
#8
In the New World
Written and illustrated by Christa Holtei
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The story of Robert and Margarete and their children Johannes and Dorothea, who emigrate from Germany to the United States in 1850. After landing in New Orleans and joining a wagon train headed west to Nebraska, the family establishes a farm outside Omaha. The book ends with a switch to modern day with descendants of Robert and Margarete living on the same farm. They make the decision to investigate their roots and visit Germany, reversing the trip their ancestors made.

Ella and Monkey at Sea book
#9
Ella and Monkey at Sea
Written and illustrated by Emilie Boon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Ella’s best friend, Monkey, doesn’t like good-bye hugs. He doesn’t want to say good-bye to Oma. And he doesn’t want to move away forever. Neither does Ella. But Papa is waiting for them in New York. So Ella and Monkey must board the ship with Mama and leave their old home in Holland for their new home in America. Along the way, there is fish for dinner (Monkey hates fish), a playroom full of new kids (Monkey doesn’t like strangers), and stormy seas that leave everyone feeling sick. Can Ella and Monkey find a way to weather the storm? Will they ever feel at home again? This sweetly illustrated picture book will appeal to anyone who has left home behind— and to children who find creative ways to share their emotions

The Crossroads book
#10
The Crossroads
Written by Alexandra Diaz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Jaime and Ángela discover what it means to be living as undocumented immigrants in the United States in this timely sequel to the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Only Road. After crossing Mexico into the United States, Jaime Rivera thinks the worst is over. Starting a new school can’t be that bad. Except it is, and not just because he can barely speak English. While his cousin Ángela fits in quickly, with new friends and after-school activities, Jaime struggles with even the idea of calling this strange place “home.” His real home is with his parents, abuela, and the rest of the family; not here where cacti and cattle outnumber people, where he can no longer be himself—a boy from Guatemala. When bad news arrives from his parents back home, feelings of helplessness and guilt gnaw at Jaime. Gang violence in Guatemala means he can’t return home, but he’s not sure if he wants to stay either. The US is not the great place everyone said it would be, especially if you’re sin papeles—undocumented—like Jaime. When things look bleak, hope arrives from unexpected places: a quiet boy on the bus, a music teacher, an old ranch hand. With his sketchbook always close by, Jaime uses his drawings to show what it means to be a true citizen. Powerful and moving, this touching sequel to The Only Road explores overcoming homesickness, finding ways to connect despite a language barrier, and discovering what it means to start over in a new place that alternates between being wonderful and completely unwelcoming.

Dumpling Dreams book
#11
Dumpling Dreams
Written by Carrie Clickard and illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"The story of how Joyce Chen, a girl born in Communist China, immigrated to the United States and popularized Chinese cooking."--

Islandborn book
#12
Islandborn
Written by Junot Diaz and illustrated by Leo Espinosa
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family's story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: “Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you.” Gloriously illustrated and lyrically written, Islandborn is a celebration of creativity, diversity, and our imagination's boundless ability to connect us—to our families, to our past and to ourselves

I'm an Immigrant Too! book
#13
I'm an Immigrant Too!
Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

From beloved Australian author Mem Fox comes a timely picture book about how all of our lives are enriched by the vibrant cultural diversity immigrants bring to their new communities. What journeys we have travelled, from countries near and far! Together now, we live in peace, beneath the Southern Star. Inspired by the plight of immigrants around the world, Mem Fox was moved to write this lyrical and rhyming exploration of the myriad ways immigrants have enriched her home country of Australia. Young readers everywhere will see themselves—and their friends and neighbors—in this powerful and moving picture book.

My Family Divided book
#14
My Family Divided
Written by Diane Guerrero and illustrated by Erica Moroz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Guerrero, the star of "Orange Is the New Black" and "Jane the Virgin, " presents her personal story in this middle-grade memoir about her parents' deportation and the nightmarish struggles of undocumented immigrants and their American children. Photos.

The Eleventh Trade book
#15
The Eleventh Trade
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

From debut author Alyssa Hollingsworth comes a story about living with fear, being a friend, and finding a new place to call home. They say you can't get something for nothing, but nothing is all Sami has. When his grandfather’s most-prized possession—a traditional Afghan instrument called a rebab—is stolen, Sami resolves to get it back. He finds it at a music store, but it costs $700, and Sami doesn’t have even one penny. What he does have is a keychain that has caught the eye of his classmate. If he trades the keychain for something more valuable, could he keep trading until he has $700? Sami is about to find out. The Eleventh Trade is both a classic middle school story and a story about being a refugee. Like Katherine Applegate, author of Wishtree, Alyssa Hollingsworth tackles a big issue with a light touch.

Nowhere Boy book
#16
Nowhere Boy
Written by Katherine Marsh
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A timely, poignant tale of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.

On Our Street book
#17
On Our Street
Written by Jaime Casap, Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Jane Heinrichs
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Insightful quotes from individuals and organizations such as unicef are included to add further perspective on the issue. A section on how kids can help empowers readers to take what they have learned and use it to make a difference. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts created this series to guide parents/caregivers through conversations about difficult issues in a reassuring and hopeful manner and help children understand their expanding awareness of the world around them.

A Blinding Light book
#18
A Blinding Light
Written and illustrated by Julie Lawson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The First World War is raging, and anti-German prejudice is rampant. Maddie and Will Schroeder are mourning the loss of their father, but their German heritage doesn’t merit much sympathy. On the morning of December 6, there’s a flash of light, then thunder underground: the Halifax Explosion hits. Instantly, the city is unrecognizable. Lost in the destroyed city, how will the siblings find each other? Exploring concepts of guilt, blame and the divide between locals and immigrants, A Blinding Light will hold readers spellbound. Teachers and parents will find plenty of topics for discussion in the book’s historical and cultural lessons.

The Promise book
#19
The Promise
Written by Margie Wolfe, Pnina Bat Zvi and illustrated by Isabelle Cardinal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The night that Rachel and Toby’s parents are taken away by the Nazis, they give their daughters three gold coins. “Use these wisely to help save your lives,” they tell them. They also ask the girls to promise that they will always stay together. This compelling true story follows the girls as they confront the daily horrors of Auschwitz, protecting one another, sharing memories, fears and even laughter. Always together. But when Rachel becomes ill and is taken away by Nazi guards, likely forever, Toby risks her life to use the wellhidden gold coins to rescue her little sister.

The Great Googlini book
#20
The Great Googlini
Written by Sara Cassidy and illustrated by Charlene Chua
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

Filip, the ten-year-old son of Croatian immigrants, lives in a boring suburb of the big city,where he passes his time either at school or in his cozy kitchen, googling everything from dinosaurs to the Hubble Space Telescope. When his favorite uncle gets sick, Filip turns to Google for answers. Instead he receives a visit from the Great Googlini, a tiny woman in Converse sneakers who swirls out of the computer vents. She’s not really a genie, she explains: “I’m more of an archivist.” Her visit is a little bit of magic that lets Filip see the magic all around him. Ultimately about the things we can know and the things we can’t, this is a smart, touching, funny chapter book about growing up, braving tough times and looking for answers.

I'm New Here book
#21
I'm New Here
Written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Three students are immigrants from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia and have trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English in their new American elementary school. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity. Young readers from all backgrounds will appreciate this touching story about the assimilation of three immigrant students in a supportive school community.

Someone New book
#22
Someone New
Written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When Anne Sibley O’Brien’s book I’m New Here was released, the New York Times noted that “Readers are placed squarely into the characters’ point of view,” giving insight into the immigrant child’s experience. In this companion book, readers’ points of view are flipped, and we see the new children from the perspective of the American kids in the classroom. There is sympathy, but also confusion. There is curiosity, but also trepidation. What each child learns, however, is that friendship and understanding close the gaps in language and culture.

Her Right Foot book
#23
Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you'd mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her? She's in New York. She's holding a torch. And she's taking one step forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, uniquely American in its frank tone and honest look at the literal foundation of our country, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America's most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty's right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country's creation. Can you believe that?

Irving Berlin book
#24
Irving Berlin
Written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by James Rey Sanchez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Irving Berlin came to the United States as a refugee from Tsarist Russia, escaping a pogrom that destroyed his village. Growing up on the streets of the lower East Side, the rhythms of jazz and blues inspired his own song-writing career. Starting with his first big hit, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Berlin created the soundtrack for American life with his catchy tunes and irresistible lyrics. With "God Bless America," he sang his thanks to the country which had given him a home and a chance to express his creative vision.

Lady Liberty's Holiday book
#25
Lady Liberty's Holiday
Written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Matt Hunt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7

The Statue of Liberty is feeling a little blue, despite being green. As much as she loves welcoming people to America, standing still for over a hundred years has left her with a stiff neck, aching arms, and a cramp in her leg. This lady could use a vacation!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.