This collection of picture books shows some of the many ways people have immigrated in recent times to a new country including the United States. I have chapter books on immigration at the turn of century that our 4th grade uses and a book list of undocumented immigrants if you want to explore this theme further.
How about you? What immigrations books for kids do you recommend? Please share! Thank you!
Immigration Picture Books for Kids
Here I Am by Patty Kim, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Patty Kim depicts her journey from Korea to New York City but she does this through the eyes of a young boy and his family in a wordless picture book. They fly in an airplane and go through customs but the sights, sounds, and smells are overwhelming. Slowly but surely, the young boy finds his footing, his confidence and a new friend. [wordless picture book, ages 6 and up]
My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khandra Mohammed, illustrated by Catherine Stock
The war in Sudan forced Sangoel and his family into a refugee camp and now they are leaving for America. At eight, he’s the man of the family; his father was killed in the war. America is so different from Africa with bright lights and lots of cars, but no one can pronounce his name. In America, he has lost his name. His mother sighs and suggests her needs a new American name, but Sangoel remembers his grandfather’s words: “You will always be Dinka. You will always be Sangoel.” When he wakes up, he’s inspired to find a way to teach his new classmates his name. It works beautifully, and Sangoel tells his friends, it’s the name of his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. It is a very good name indeed! [picture book, ages 6 and up]
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
I love this picture book about a young girl on her first school field trip to an apple orchard and how her teacher gently helps her fit in. She initially thinks of herself as the odd one out like a green hard apple but by the end of the outing, realizes that all the apples come together to make a delicious cider where everyone has a place. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Tea with Milk by Allen Say
This is an interesting concept: reverse immigration and depicts the true story of Allen Say’s mother. Born in Northern California, her family decides to return to Japan and even though she speaks Japanese fluently, she finds that she doesn’t fit in at all. Her journey to fit in takes through some lonely times, but ultimately, she is able to get a job where her American background is an asset in a Japanese world. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
This is the other side of the Tea with Milk story told through the eyes of Allen Say’s grandfather who immigrated from Japan to the United States where he explored it extensively. His grandfather was quite an adventurer! Of all the places he visited, he liked California the best. He returned to Japan to marry and brought his bride back to San Francisco to live. When their daughter was nearly full grown, he returned to Japan right before WWII. Read these two books together. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh
In this gentle picture book, Duncan Tonatiuh uses a parable of a rabbit and coyote to bring to light the hardships faced by families who illegally cross the border to create a better life for themselves and their family. It’s a perfect book to teach kids empathy in a world that villianizes undocumented immigrants. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
Tracing her family’s roots back four generations, Jacqueline Woodson’s personal history hits the major points in American history from slavery to freedom, segregation, freedom marches, and the fight for literacy. Using a quilt that mapped the road to freedom as a “show way,” Woodson’s ancestors’ thirst for knowledge and words is never more apparent than in her own shining work. [picture book, age 4 and up]
Never Forgotten by
Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-in-verse is about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his father who is left behind to mourn the loss of his son. Here’s a beautiful, powerful, truly unforgettable story about family, memory, and freedom. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
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