Discover

Company

Immigration and Friendship: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about immigration is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale to Someone New there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about immigration? Let us know!

Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale book
#1
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.

The Eleventh Trade book
#2
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
#3
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.

The Crossroads book
#4
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.

Same Sun Here book
#5
Same Sun Here
Written by Neela Vaswani, Silas House and illustrated by Hilary Schenker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-16

A twelve-year-old Indian immigrant in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner's son become pen pals, and eventually best friends, through a series of revealing letters exploring such topics as environmental activism, immigration, and racism.

Someone New book
#6
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.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!