Books About Immigration

Below, we’ve gathered an array of immigration-centric fiction and nonfiction, from real-world experiences of teen refugees and Dreamers, reflections on identities rooted in two distinctly different cultures, and a heart-warming picture book about welcoming a refugee family. These books reveal incredible courage and fortitude.

Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge: Real-Life Immigration Stories from Young People

Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12

English teacher Victorya Rouse has assembled a collection of real-world experiences of teen refugees from around the world. Learn where these young people came from, why they left, and how they arrived in the United States. Read about their struggles to adapt to a new language, culture, and high school experiences, along with updates about how they are doing now and what they hope their futures will look like.

“[D]etailed, well written, and heartfelt, infusing much-needed humanity into an issue that is often discussed purely through statistics. . . . A beautifully curated anthology presenting the voices of refugees.”—Kirkus Reviews

Walls and Welcome Mats: Immigration and the American Dream

Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12

Immigration and the history of America are inextricably linked. Author Lars Ortiz explores the history of immigration in the United States from before the country was born to government policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act to the building of a wall along the US-Mexico border. He also examines the the backlash against immigration that so many immigrants have faced, and the optimism that leads people to seek a better future in a new land.

“A combination of real-life examples, critical historical context, and engaging graphics and data presentation makes this a solid choice. An inviting, thorough, and accessible introduction to an important and perpetually relevant topic.”—Kirkus Reviews

Walls and Welcome Mats
Where I Belong

Where I Belong

Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12

A Pura Belpré Honor Book

An immigrant teen fights for her family, her future, and the place she calls home.

In the spring of 2018, Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros “Millie” Vargas knows her life is about to change. She has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, ever since her parents sought asylum there when she was a baby. Now a citizen, Millie devotes herself to school and caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family. With college on the horizon, Millie is torn between attending her dream school and staying close to home, where she knows she’s needed. She is disturbed by what’s happening to asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, but she doesn’t see herself as an activist or a change-maker. She’s just trying to take care of her own family.

“Full of thought-provoking conversations, messy answers, and lots of heart, this novel’s a quiet knockout. Utterly compelling.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

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

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

With lyrical text and thought-provoking photography, Their Great Gift explores the experiences of immigrants in the twenty-first century, focusing on the lives of children. Images of families who came to the United States from many different parts of the world celebrate the diversity of our country and contain a vision of hope for the future.

“An attractive and inspiring look at immigration to the United States, sure to spark discussions at home or in the classroom. . . . [T]his offering puts a human face on a serious issue. . . . An ideal jumping-off place for teachers and parents interested in starting a conversation about a timely topic.”—starred, School Library Journal

Their Great Gift
The Real History of Angel Island

The Real History of Angel Island

From the Series Left Out of History (Read Woke ™ Books)

Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8

People often learn about Ellis Island when they are taught the history of immigration in the US. However, many people also came through Angel Island in California. Discover the history of the Angel Island Immigration Station, the experiences of the people who arrived there, and how it closed.

Have you ever considered what’s missing from history books? In Left Out of History, explore the misunderstood and underexamined past in this engaging series. Compelling photographs and primary sources help bring previously buried history to light.

Immigration, Refugees, and the Fight for a Better Life

From the Series Issues in Action (Read Woke ™ Books)

Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8

Throughout history and into the modern day, people have moved from place to place to flee danger and seek out better lives. But immigrants and refugees often meet harsh realities on their journeys. Learn about immigration and refugee resettlement within the United States and throughout the world. Follow both historical and recent large migrations, understand the challenges of life in a new country, and see how activists fight for immigrants’ and refugees’ rights.

Immigration, Refugees, and the Fight for a Better Life
From the Tops of the Trees

From the Tops of the Trees

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Young Kalia has never known life beyond the fences of the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. The Thai camp holds many thousands of Hmong families who fled in the aftermath of the little-known Secret War in Laos that was waged during America’s Vietnam War. For Kalia and her cousins, life isn’t always easy, but they still find ways to play, racing with chickens and riding a beloved pet dog.

“This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. A visually striking, compelling recollection.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

A Bear for Bimi

Interest Level: Preschool – Grade 2

When Bimi’s refugee family immigrates to America and moves into Evie’s neighborhood, not everybody is welcoming. But with the help of Evie’s teddy bear, Bimi’s family becomes part of the neighborhood and Evie makes a new friend.

“A lovely story about friendship, welcoming the other, and winning people’s hearts with kindness.” — Kirkus Reviews

A Bear for Bimi


  • Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

A heartstoppingly beautiful wordless picture book about migration and empathy.

The migrants must leave the forest. Borders are crossed, sacrifices made, loved ones are lost. It takes such courage to reach the end. At last the journey is over and the migrants arrive. This is the new place.
Through extraordinarily powerful images, Migrants narrates the journey of a group of animals that leaves behind a leafless forest. With forceful simplicity, Migrants shows us the courage, loss and underlying hope migration takes. And that arriving in a new land may mean burying a portion of the past.

Children will empathize quickly with the elegantly illustrated animal characters, each of whom have their own identity with details like clothing, color choices and expressions. The dark pages add weight to the silence of their journey and the individual animals help make the story a universal one. A perfect book to help teach children about refugees and migration, with humanity, inclusivity and empathy.
Readers can’t fail to be moved by this deeply emotional and thought-provoking tale.

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