Children's Books about the Immigrant Experience

Children's Books About the Immigrant Experience

Books featuring characters who are immigrants or refugees, and nonfiction books about the immigrant experience throughout history.

Compiled by:
Lizzie F.

Picture Books and Younger Elementary

A Different Pond

Bao Phi
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Phi)

Unlike many other fishermen, Bao and his father fish for food, not recreation. Bao's father tells stories of a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Recommended for ages 6–9.

Grandfather's Journey

Allen Say
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Sa)

A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather's journey to America, which he later undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries. Recommended for ages 6–9.


Harriet Brundle
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 304.8 Bru)

This topical series considers current world issues via informative facts and data, combined with modern imaging that will engage young readers. Recommended for ages 6-9.

The Journey

Francesca Sanna
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej San)

What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey. Recommended for ages 6-9.

The Keeping Quilt

Patricia Polacco
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Pol)

A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith. Recommended for ages 3-6.


Marie-Louise Gay
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Gay)

After leaving his war-torn country with his family, Mustafa visits a park near his new home and finds beautiful flowers, ladybugs, fall leaves, and finally, a friend. Recommended for ages 3–6.

The Quiet Place

Sarah Stewart
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Ste)

A little girl moves to the United States from Mexico with her family and writes letters to her aunt about her new life. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

Margriet Ruurs
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 492.7 Ruu)

In this picture book, a young girl and her family are forced to flee their village to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria and make their way toward freedom in Europe. Recommended for ages 6-9.

Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land

John Coy
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 305.906912 Coy)

This book explores the experience of immigrants who came to America in the twenty-first century, celebrating the diversity of the country and hope for the future. Recommended for ages 6–9.

This is Our House

Hyewon Yum
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Yum)

This book follows a family through seasons and generations, as the house of their immigrant grandparents is transformed into a home. Recommended for ages 3–6.

The Treasure Box

Margaret Wild
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Mcm)

When war forces people to flee their homes, young refugee Peter carries a cherished family possession through a difficult period of survival, before reflecting on its importance years later. Recommended for ages 6-9.

Where Will I Live?

Rosemary A. McCarney
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 362.87 Mcc)

This stunning photo-based picture book for younger readers takes a look at the thousands of children around the world who have been forced to flee their homes. Recommended for ages 6–9.

Why Am I Here?

Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen
(Juvenile Picture Books – Ej Orb)

A young girl wonders what life would be like if she lived somewhere else. Is she right where she's supposed to be? Recommended for ages 6-9.

Older Elementary

90 Miles to Havana

Enrique Flores-Galbis
(Juvenile Fiction – J Floresg)

When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian's parents must make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Esperanza Rising

Pam Muñoz Ryan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Ryan)

Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life in Mexico to go work in the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression in California. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Immigrants' Rights, Citizens' Rights

Sara Howell
(Juvenile Nonfiction – J 323.0973 How)

Did you know that American laws protect all people who live in America, even people who aren't citizens? This book describes in clear language the rights that citizens and non-citizens have. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Inside Out and Back Again

Thanhha Lai
(Juvenile Fiction - J Lai)

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama. Recommended for ages 8-12.

A Long Walk to Water

Linda Sue Park
(Juvenile Fiction - J Park)

When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members in search of safe haven. Recommended for ages 8-12.

The Red Pencil

Andrea Davis Pinkney
(Juvenile Fiction – J Pinkney)

After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp. Recommended for ages 8-12.