6 Simple Yet Impactful Books About Immigration for Young Readers

Many of our families began with our immigrant parents and grandparents. Read on to learn more about the many different ways and reasons people immigrate!

Recommendations Young Readers
2 people climbing hills.

Throughout history, millions of people have immigrated to new countries for various reasons. For some, the process can be extremely difficult and frightening, especially if you’re a child. The books below tell varying stories of immigration in age-appropriate ways to help young readers better understand why some may choose to leave the place they call home.

1. My Shoes and I by Réne Colato Laínez

A pair of brown shoes.
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In this retelling of his own personal life, Réne shares his experience of leaving El Salvador and traveling with his father to join his mother in America. As he prepares for his long journey, his mother sends him a pair of new shoes to walk in. Going from El Salvador to Guatemala to Mexico, Réne and his father face harsh weather, escaping floods, and walking through thick mud. When his shoes lose their luster, his father still encourages him to push forward so that they can finally reunite with his mom.

2. The Rock in My Throat by Kao Kalia Yang

Girl with short  hair. holding her hand to her throat.
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In this true story, Kao Kalia Yang tells readers about what life was like at home and at school as a young Hmong refugee. After witnessing the treatment her parents receive when they attempt to speak English, Kao decides she won’t speak at school anymore. She describes it as a rock stuck in her throat. Despite feeling stuck, things slowly change for Kao.

3. I’m an Immigrant Too by Mem Fox

Kids playing on sidewalk.
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Taking inspiration from immigrants all over the world, Fox was inspired to create a book using rhyming and lyrics to help tell the story of how many immigrants have bettered her home country, Australia. Readers will recognize their friends, neighbors and themselves within this colorful, catchy book.

4. All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Small Shovel by Dan Yaccarino

Man walking and carrying two bags.
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Dan Yaccarino’s great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island with close to nothing but a tiny shovel and advice from his parents, telling him to work hard, remember to enjoy life, and never forget your family. Through colorful illustrations accompanied by easy-to-read language, Yaccarino shares the story of how his great-grandfather’s shovel has been passed down for four generations.

5. Marwan’s Journey by Patricia De Arias

Young child sitting on a bag.
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Marwan is a young boy who is leaving his country during a time of war. Along him, hundreds of others are doing the same thing. On his journey, we follow him side by side as he crosses seas and deserts. To keep moving forward, he holds onto memories of his past home and his hopes and dreams of a peaceful future.

6. La Frontera by Alfredo Alva and Deborah Mills

Man and young child walking alongside a river.
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A young boy and his father travel all the way from Mexico in search of a new home in Texas. With beautiful illustrations, Alfredo and Mills tell the story of the courage and hope of a family as they journey to the Mexican border, also known as La Frontera, to make a home in a new and unknown land.

No matter whether you’re an immigrant, someone in your family is, or if you just want to teach your children about the experiences of others, these books are great options. Enjoy reading!


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