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Migration: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about migration?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to migration. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about migration.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about migration, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Little Home Bird to popular sellers like The Great Migration: Journey to the North to some of our favorite hidden gems like Overground Railroad.

We hope this list of kids books about migration can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Little Home Bird
Written & illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Little Bird loves everything about his home. He’s surrounded by his favourite branch, his favourite food, his favourite view and his favourite music. Why on earth would he ever want to change, even when his brother tells him that they must? Discover how Little Bird ends up finding happiness in his new home from home in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Perfect for all children who love home, however many they may have.

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Overground Railroad
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

**A window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators of Before She Was Harriet and Finding Langston**.**

As she climbs aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North– one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.

Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own– until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity.

James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Praise for Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome’s Before She Was Harriet**, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Christopher Award**

* “Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.”–Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

* “a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

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Tiny Bird
Written by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A narrative nonfiction picture book following a hummingbird’s daunting journey south for the winter, with stunning art.

When the last summer flowers open their petals to the slanting sun, it’s time for a tiny hummingbird to dip its beak into the heart of each flower, extracting as much nectar as possible before the hard trip ahead. Today is the day Tiny Bird begins its amazing journey south for the winter, traveling as fast as thirty miles an hour for hundreds of miles on end. The trip is long, with savaging weather and many predators along the way, but Tiny Bird is built for this epic journey and eventually arrives at its winter home. This inspiring and informative story celebrates the important role of a small but mighty creature. For animal enthusiasts, future environmentalists, and fans of Katherine Roy’s How to Be an Elephant.

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Señorita Mariposa
Written by Ben Gundersheimer & illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A captivating and child-friendly look at the extraordinary journey that monarch butterflies take each year from Canada to Mexico; with a text in both English and Spanish.

Rhyming text and lively illustrations showcase the epic trip taken by the monarch butterflies. At the end of each summer, these international travelers leave Canada to fly south to Mexico for the winter–and now readers can come along for the ride! Over mountains capped with snow, to the deserts down below. Children will be delighted to share in the fascinating journey of the monarchs and be introduced to the people and places they pass before they finally arrive in the forests that their ancestors called home.

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Migration
Written by Mike Unwin & illustrated by Jenni Desmond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Twenty incredible stories of animal migration - with art from New York Times Best Illustrated honoree Jenni Desmond.Animals of all shapes and sizes make epic journeys through harsh weather, avoiding hungry predators, in their efforts to survive. This collection of 20 migration stories features animals from across the globe. Follow emperor penguin through snow, ice and bitter temperatures; watch as the great white shark swim over 6,000 miles in search of seals; track huge herds of elephants, on their yearly hunt for water; and be amazed at the millions of red crabs, migrating across Christmas Island. Fascinating text from a renowned travel writer is paired with stunning art from acclaimed illustrator Jenni Desmond to tell the stories of these creatures.

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  • The Eel Question - Bound to serve a cruel master, Nant’s curiosity never fails to get her into trouble. Some questions she had learned it was best not to ask, but every autumn the silver eels return, and so do her questions. Where do they come from? And where do they go? Be ready to feel a little bit of magic, and perhaps a few shivers down the spine.

  • Orange for the Sunsets - From debut author Tina Athaide comes a soaring tale of empathy, hope, and resilience, as two best friends living under Ugandan President Amin’s divisive rule must examine where—and who—they call home. Perfect for fans of Half from the East and Inside Out and Back Again. Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game. Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship. Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

  • Belle's Journey - For over sixteen years, Dr. Rob Bierregaard (Dr. B. to his students) has tracked osprey migration using small radio transmitters. This is the story of one of Dr. B.’s ospreys, Belle, who each spring flies 4,000 miles from her winter home in Brazil to her spring nest on Martha’s Vineyard to meet her mate and start a new family. Besides the long distance, Belle must find food, weather storms, and face other dangers. Dr. B. and his companions follow Belle’s journey via her transmitter. This mostly true story is based on information garnered through twenty years of research by Dr. B.

  • Galapagos George - This is the story of the famous Lonesome George, a giant tortoise who was the last of his species, lived to be one hundred years old, and became known as the rarest creature in the world. His story gives us a glimpse of the amazing creatures inhabiting the ever-fascinating Galápagos Islands. Renowned naturalist and bestselling author of the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and the critically acclaimed Everglades Jean Craighead George once again introduces children to the wonders of the natural world in this incredible evolution story set in the Galápagos Islands. The back matter features key terms, a timeline, and further resources for research. Supports the Common Core State Standards.

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The Great Migration: Journey to the North
Written by Eloise Greenfield & illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

We were one family among the many thousands. Mama and Daddy leaving home, coming to the city, with their hopes and their courage, their dreams and their children, to make a better life. When Eloise Greenfield was four months old, her family moved from their home in Parmele, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C. Before Jan Spivey Gilchrist was born, her mother moved from Arkansas and her father moved from Mississippi. Both settled in Chicago, Illinois. Though none of them knew it at the time, they had all become part of the Great Migration. In this collection of poems and collage artwork, award winners Eloise Greenfield and Jan Spivey Gilchrist gracefully depict the experiences of families like their own, who found the courage to leave their homes behind during The Great Migration and make new lives for themselves elsewhere. The Great Migration concludes with a bibliography. Supports the Common Core State Standards.

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