Refugees and Immigrants Books for Children

The Day Gogo Went to Vote (1996) by Elinor Batezat Sisulu
Nelson Mandela called this book “inspiring and moving.”  This is a child’s-eye view of a milestone in South African history.  Great Grandmother Gogo leaves the house with her granddaughter to travel to the polls to vote for the first time. Ages 4-8.

The Journey (2016) by Frencesca Sanna

A beautifully illustrated and award winning book about a families’ difficult escape from war.  The book addresses what it feels like to be a refugee in ways that naturally build empathy but never get too explicit for a young child.  Ages 3-7

I’m New Here (2015) by Anne Sibley O’Brien

This touching story is about the assimilation of three students from different backgrounds into a supportive school community. The author focuses on the challenge that each new student faces (spoken language, writing, social identity) and how the challenge is overcome by perseverance and support. Ages 5-8

Oskar and the Eight Blessings (2015) by Tanya Simon

A beautifully illustrated and written book about a young Jewish boy who was sent to New York City as a refuge from the Nazis in 1938. He arrives on the last day of Hanukkah and finds out that, as his father told him, people can be good and helpful. Ages 4-8

The Name Jar (2003) by Yangsook Choi

A charmingly illustrated story about a young girl who emigrates from Korea. Her name is hard for her new classmates to pronounce, and she also gets teased about it, and so she requests a new name. When a classmate discovers the special meaning behind her name, she decides to keep it. Ages 4-8

Lost and Found Cat:  The true story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey (2017) by Doug Kuntz, Amy Shrodes and Sue Cornelison

A story about an Iraqi family forced to leave their home.  Along their difficult travel, their beloved cat, Kunkush escapes.  Their happy reunion shows how through perseverance and compassion amazing things can happen. Ages 4-8

The Color of Home (2002) by Mary Hoffman. Karen Littlewood, illustrator

A young refugee from Somalia learns to communicate by painting.  Littlewood’s beautiful impressionistic watercolor paintings reveal the child’s memories of his African village: the warmth and light and then the terror. Preschool – grade 3

Stepping Stones:  A refugee family’s journey (2016) Margriet Ruurs

Created around the stunning stone artwork by Nizar Badr, this relatively new book is receiving so many accolades for its timely story about the Syrian refugee crisis, personalizing it through the story of a girl named Rama. She and her family are forced to flee civil war and walk on foot with their belongings with the hopes of finding safety and freedom in Europe.  All ages

One Green Apple (2006) Eve Bunting

A beautifully illustrated story about a young Muslim immigrant, Farah.  Although she doesn’t speak English and dresses differently, she and her classmates discover they are more alike than different.  Grades 3-5

Migrant (2011) by Maxine Tottier

Lyrical prose and creative illustrations speak to the imaginations of young children, communicating some of the hardships and disappointments that Anna and her family experience as Mennonite farm workers from Mexico.  Ages 4-7

My Diary from Here to There (2013) by Amada Irma Perez

A sensitive story of a young Mexican girl that details her family’s journey from Mexico to Los Angeles.  The girl, Amada, struggles with leaving her home behind, but discovers that she is stronger than she ever imagined. Grades 2-5

Brave Girl:  Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 (2013) by Michelle Markel

A young Ukrainian immigrant, Clara, works under appalling conditions in a shirtwaist factory and leads other immigrants in a strike for humane conditions. Grades K-3.

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