10 Picture Books All About the Immigrant Experience to Add to Your Classroom Library

A new student walks quietly into your classroom. She is an immigrant who doesn't understand the English language. You hope that everyone welcomes her and makes her comfortable as she navigates through her first day of school.

Image showing children holding a globe and some of the book covers mentioned in the post
What must it feel like to be in her shoes? What can you and your students do to make things easier for her?

So why not start by inviting her to look at some picture books? Borrow some picture books from the school library that depict the country where the child is from. Look for titles that can help your students understand what it means to be an immigrant. Then help students wonder about the world around them by making the books easily available.

Here are 10 books about immigration to help you get started:

The Seeds of Friendship by Michael Foreman

Alan is new to America. There are so many new things to learn.

When his teacher gives him seeds to plant, Alan gets an idea to cultivate a city garden with help from his friends.

Pair this book with The Curious Garden by Peter Brown or the Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland to make text-to-text connections.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina

How do you talk with your grandmother about your day when she doesn’t understand your language?

Mia finds a way by labeling objects in her house and reading the words with her abuela. A pet parrot brings more fun to the word recognition game, and Abuela feels more comfortable in her new home.

Try using an online English to Spanish translator to name objects in your classroom. Write the Spanish words on sticky notes and label the objects.

My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald

When moving to a new country, all it takes is one friendly smile from a stranger to make things a little easier. If that same person takes you under their wing and teaches you new words everyday, life becomes enjoyable.

Make a text-to-text connection with this book and Mango, Abuela and Me . Discover the similar themes of learning a new language with a friend and finding your way in a new place.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Unhei Un does not like her Korean name. She wants to change it, and she asks her new classmates for name ideas. Will she pick Chloe for a new name? Or Kate? Or Chelsea?

The ending will surprise you!

Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina

Tia Isa dreams of traveling. She works hard to save for a car that will take her on an adventure, but some of her savings helps her family that lives in another country. Will Tia Isa ever get her car?

Students will enjoy making predictions as they learn about being patient, setting priorities and working hard.

Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat

When Saya’s mother is imprisoned because she is an illegal immigrant, Saya does everything in her power to free her mother from jail. This is a story of a young girl who is determined in her purpose of bringing her mother home.

Use this book to inspire a persuasive writing unit in your class.

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

Most children love to go on field trips. Farah does not. She does not speak English, and she hasn’t found a way to make a friend.

What will Farah do to connect with classmates when she doesn’t seem to have anything in common with any of the children?

Compare this book with The Two Blankets .

The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart

When living in a new country gets to be too much, Isabel finds comfort in creating a house out of cardboard boxes.

Children enjoy the unexpected fold out page at the end of the story that illustrates Isabel’s beautiful cardboard structure.

The Quiet Place invites children to make connections and ask questions as Isabel tries to find happiness in her new home.

Here I Am by Patti Kim

This wordless book will reach every reader as the captivating illustrations tell a story about a young boy from another country who tries to make sense of his new surroundings.

Wordless books provide the perfect vehicle for children to practice inferring and summarizing what is happening in the story, and the illustrations in this story will captivate readers as they practice those reading strategies. Enjoy the book trailer.

How Many Days to America by Eve Bunting

A young boy and his family abruptly flee their country to save their lives. The family travels with other refugees across the vast ocean in a small boat with little food or shelter. They are so thankful when their dangerous journey ends in America, where they are welcomed by kind people who give them food and shelter.

This accessible picture book will elicit many insightful questions as children wonder about the circumstances behind the trip.
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