The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Immigration - May 2007

Selected by Esther Giezendanner, annotated by Esther Giezendanner & Nicole Wilhelms


Auch, Mary Jane. Ashes of Roses. Henry Holt, 2002. Gr. 5-9.
Rose Nolan is hopeful about her new life in America where she works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company to support herself and her sister - until tragedy strikes.

Bial, Raymond. Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; written and illus. with photographs by Raymond Bial. Houghton, 2002. Gr. 4-8.
Bial takes readers to the past of life on the Lower East Sides where many European immigrants lived in small, dark apartments. Immigrants came to make a better life, but often earned wages so low that they could afford only the most basic housing called tenements. A tour of the sights and sounds of the Lower East Side is guided with pictures of restored tenement apartments.

Budhos, Marina. Ask Me No Questions. Seo/Atheneum, 2006. Gr. 7-12.
Imagine the tension of living as an illigal Muslim immigrant, your father imprisoned by the government in the wake of 9/11. Nadira struggles to survive in that situation, trying to cope with her sister while searching for evidence to support her father’s case.

Connor, Leslie. Miss Brodie Chose a Shovel; illus. by Mary Azarin. Houghton, 2004. 6-9 yrs.
Before immigrating to the United States, Miss Bridie decides to bring a shovel. She uses it to dig up flowers from her garden to sell, to clear the ice on a skating rink where she meets her husband, and to perform different chores around the farm. This book is a tribute to immigrants who left their home to come to America, and how one woman used a shovel to shape her new life.

Easten, Richard. A Real American. Clarion, 2002. Gr. 5-8.
Prejudice against immigrants is strong in a Pennsylvanian mining town and 11-year-old Nathan shares it until he meets Arturo Tozzi.

Elya, Susan Middleton. Home at Last; illus. by Felipe Davalos. Lee & Low, 2002. 6-9 yrs.
The Patino family has recently arrived in the United States from Mexico. Ana Patino adjusts quickly to her new life and school, but Mama has a harder time. Mama cannot speak English, so she stays in their apartment most of the time until an emergency makes her realize she needs to learn English. Although the story is narrated from the point of view of Ana, the story focuses on Mama’s frustration and stubbornness in accepting life in a new culture.

Gallo, Donald R. First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants. Candlewick Press, 2004. Gr. 7-10.
This anthology covers stories about how teen immigrants from a variety of countries establish new lives and identities for themselves in America.

Hoffman, Mary. The Color of Home; illus by Karen Littlewood. Fogelman, 2002. 5-8 yrs.
Hassan, a young Somali refugee, finds his first days at an American school strange. In Somalia the colors were more vibrant, but everything looks like the color gray here in America. Since he knows very little English, Hassan communicates his past through painting, and his world begins to brighten.

Hoobler, Dorothy. We Are Americans: Voices of the Immigrant Experience; by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. Scholastic, 2003. Gr. 5-9.
A collection of letters, diaries, oral histories, and biographies of immigrants, which are woven into a detailed narrative history starting with Native Americans to the present. They describe their journeys to America, their dreams about a new life, and the difficulties faced in a country with different customs.

Lee, Milly. Landed; illus by Yangsook Choi. Foster/Farrar, 2006. Gr. 2-5.
Experience the journey from China to San Fransisco via Angel Island - and an interrogation to prove his identity - with 12-year-old Sun.

Lekuton, Joseph Lemasolai. Facing the Lion: Growing up Masai on the African Savanna; by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton with Herman Viola. National Geographic, 2003. Gr. 4-8.
One immigrant tells his story from growing up as a nomadic Masai to going to school and then to America where he now teaches history.

Mak, Kam. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems; written and illus. by Kam Mak. HarperCollins, 2001. Gr. 3-5.
Using beautiful paintings and poems, Kam Mak describes a culture within a culture known as Chinatown. Trying to adjust to his new life, a young immigrant boy works to overcome his homesickness, and eventually he begins to embrace these new customs.

Naidoo, Beverley. The Other Side of Truth. HarperCollins, 2001. Gr. 7-12.
Sade and her younger brother flee illegally to England to escape political persecution but soon discover that life as illegal immigrants is precarious.

Oswald, Nancy. Nothing Here But Stones. Holt, 2004. Gr. 4-7.
Look through the eyes of 11-year-old Emm to experience the hardship and optimism of 19 th century Jewish refugees’ struggle to create a new settlement in Colorado.

Rael, Elsa Okon. Rivka’s First Thanksgiving; illus by Maryann Kovalski. McElderry, 2001. 4-8 yrs.
Thrilled to learn about Thanksgiving in school, Rivka must convince her family and the rabbi that it is a festival Jews should celebrate too.

Sachs, Marilyn. Lost in America. Brodie/Roaring Brook, 2005. Gr. 6-9.
Nicole Nieman is a French Jew whose family disappears into Auschwitz and never returns. When Nicole immigrates to New York City after the war, she must learn the language and her work even as she experiences the delight of living in a society not ravaged by war.

Shea, Pegi Deitz. Tangled Threads: a Hmong Girl’s Story. Clarion, 2003. Gr. 5-9.
Mai is excited to leave the refugee camp in Thailand for America, but she is soon torn between her Hmong culture and identity and new American ideas.

Tal, Eve. Double Crossing. Cinco Puntos, 2005.
What if you’re rejected at Ellis Island? Raizal and her father endure a long journey to America with this fear in mind, only for it to actually happen to them.

Warren, Andrea. Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy; illus with photographs. Kroupa/Farrar, 2004. Gr. 4-8.
The experience of Vietnamese children evacuated in Operation Babylift to be adopted by Americans is illustrated using the true story of Long, Matt Steiner, one of the children.

Wolf, Bernard. Coming to America: a Muslim Family’s Story; written and illus. with photographs by Bernard Wolf. Lee & Low, 2003. Gr. 3-7.
The true story of every-day life for a family of Muslim immigrants in New York.

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