Best Kids Books About Immigration

32 Kids 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.

Her Right Foot book
#2
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?

Last Stop on Market Street book
#3
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
#4
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.

Islandborn book
#5
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

In the New World book
#6
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
#7
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

Dumpling Dreams book
#8
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."--

I'm an Immigrant Too! book
#9
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.

On Our Street book
#10
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.

The Promise book
#11
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.

I'm New Here book
#12
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
#13
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.

Irving Berlin book
#14
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
#15
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!

All-of-a-kind Family Hannukah book
#16
All-of-a-kind Family Hannukah
Written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The beloved characters from Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family return in this heartwarming picture book from a critically adored team—perfect for Hanukkah gift-giving! "Share this joyous holiday tale of a Jewish immigrant family all year long." — Kirkus Review, starred review Acclaimed author Emily Jenkins (A Greyhound, a Groundhog) and Caldecott Award-winning artist Paul O. Zelinsky (Rapunzel) bring the beloved All-of-a-Kind Family to life in a new format. Fans, along with those just meeting the five girls ("all of a kind," as their parents say), will join them back in 1912, on the Lower East Side of NYC, and watch as preparations for Hanukkah are made. When Gertie, the youngest, is not allowed to help prepare latkes, she throws a tantrum. Banished to the girls' bedroom, she can still hear the sounds and smell the smells of a family getting ready to celebrate. But then Papa comes home and she is allowed out—and given the best job of all: lighting the first candle on the menorah. First published in 1951, Taylor's chapter books have become time-honored favorites, selling over a million copies and touching generations of readers. In this time when immigrants often do not feel accepted, the All-of-a-Kind Family gives a heartwarming glimpse of a Jewish immigrant family and their customs that is as relevant—and necessary—today as when it was first written. Jenkins and Zelinsky's charming compliment to Taylor's series perfectly captures the warmth and family values that made the original titles classics.

Yao Bai and the Egg Pirates book
#17
Yao Bai and the Egg Pirates
Written by Tim J Myers and illustrated by Bonnie Pang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Inspired by the 1863 Egg War and the mad rush for murre eggs on the Farallon Islands near San Francisco, Yao Bai and the Egg Pirates is a high-seas adventure story celebrating the courage and history of Chinese immigrants in America through a fascinating yet little-known event during the California Gold Rush era.

Anya’s Secret Society  book
#18
Anya’s Secret Society
Written and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In Russia, right-handedness is demanded--it is the right way. This cultural expectation stifles young Anya's creativity and artistic spirit as she draws the world around her in secret. Hiding away from family, teachers, and neighbors, Anya imagines a secret society of famous left-handed artists drawing alongside her. But once her family emigrates from Russia to America, her life becomes less clandestine, and she no longer feels she needs to conceal a piece of her identity.

Mango Moon book
#19
Mango Moon
Written by Diane De Anda and illustrated by Sue Cornelison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a father is taken away from his family and facing deportation, his family is left to grieve and wonder about what comes next. Maricela, Manuel, and their mother face the many challenges of having their lives completely changed by the absence of their father and husband. Moving to a new house, missed soccer games and birthday parties, and emptiness are now the day-to-day norm. Mango Moon shows what life is like from a child's perspective when a parent is deported, and the heartbreaking realities they have to face, but Maricela learns that her love for her father is sustained even though he is no longer part of her daily life.

100 Things That Make Me Happy book
#20
100 Things That Make Me Happy
Written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

In the grand tradition of “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” comes an uplifting tribute to 100 everyday things worth celebrating. The list, in rhyming couplets, draws directly from a preschool­er’s world—from slippery floors to dinosaurs, from goldfish to a birthday wish. Amy Schwartz weaves a masterful balance between art and text, with each of the 100 items portrayed as its own well-observed and warmly detailed vignette. While the contents provide readers with a frame of reference for the quantity of “100”—a celebratory milestone in preschools and early elementary grades—the oversized pages envelop young children in the wonderful things surrounding them.

My Grandma and Me book
#21
My Grandma and Me
Written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a true tale of a young girl in Iran and her grandmother, this beautiful ode to family celebrates small moments of love that become lifelong memories. In this big universe full of many moons, I have traveled and seen many wonders, but I have never loved anything or anyone the way I love my grandma. While Mina is growing up in Iran, the center of her world is her grandmother. Whether visiting friends next door, going to the mosque for midnight prayers during Ramadan, or taking an imaginary trip around the planets, Mina and her grandma are never far apart. At once deeply personal and utterly universal, Mina Javaherbin's words make up a love letter of the rarest sort: the kind that shares a bit of its warmth with every reader. Soft, colorful, and full of intricate patterns, Lindsey Yankey's illustrations feel like a personal invitation into the coziest home, and the adoration between Mina and her grandma is evident on every page.

Ali's Story book
#22
Ali's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of 10-year-old refugee Ali, who is forced to flee his home country of Afganistan with his grandmother. Told in Ali's words, this story documents the feelings of alienation, separation, and suffering war can place on immigrant children and their families. This story also shares the hope Ali and his family has to overcome their ordeals.

Hamid's Story book
#23
Hamid's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of 10-year old refugee Hamid, who flees Eritrea with his mother to escape the war and threats to his family from the government. Told in Hamid's own words, this story describes the hardship experienced by immigrants who are rebuilding their lives with little understanding of the language and culture of their new country.

Juliane's Story book
#24
Juliane's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of 12-year-old refugee Juliane. At 3 years old, Juliane was separated from her mother due to the violence in her country of Zimbabwe. Told in Juliane's own words, the story tells of her fear and isolation growing up in an orphanage, how she was reunited with her mother, and how the two of them fled to another country to establish a new life together.

Navid's Story book
#25
Navid's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of Kurdish Iranian refugee, Navid. Told in Navid's own words, the story describes the fear and uncertainty Navid and his mother feel after they are forced to flee Iran, as well as the long journey they endure to be reunited with Navid's father.

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