100+ Children’s & YA Books about Immigrants & Refugees

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Children's & YA books about immigrants & refugees


June is National Immigrant Heritage Month! Celebrate the countless contributions of generations of immigrants and refugees with this ultimate list of children’s and YA books featuring brave and resilient immigrants and refugees!

100+ Children’s & YA Books about Immigrants & Refugees


Lubna and Pebble
by Wendy Meddour

 children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees

Living in a refugee camp, little Lubna’s best friend is a pebble. Pebble always listens to her stories and always smiles when she feels scared. But when a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does. Emotionally stirring and stunningly illustrated, Lubna and Pebble explores one girl’s powerful act of friendship in the midst of utter uncertainty. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

Santiago’s Dinosaurios
by Mariana Rios Ramirez

Santiago is new to the United States, and he doesn’t speak English. On his first day of school, how will he connect with his peers? Santiago learns that even when you don’t speak the same language, some interests―like dinosaurs―are universal. Santiago’s Dinosaurios is a sweet story about making new friends despite language barriers. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books


What Is A Refugee?
by Elise Gravel

Who are refugees? Why are they called that word? Why do they need to leave their country? Why are they sometimes not welcome in their new country? In this relevant picture book for the youngest children, author-illustrator Elise Gravel explores what it means to be a refugee in bold, graphic illustrations and spare text. This is the perfect tool to introduce an important and timely topic to children. What Is A Refugee? is an accessible picture book that introduces the term “refugee” to curious young children to help them better understand the world in which they live. ~ Diverse – Preschool

The Name Jar
by Yangsook Choi

 children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees: The Name Jar

Recently arrived from Korea, Unhei worries that her new class mates won’t be able to pronounce her name. She tells them that she will choose a name later. Her class mates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. After trying a few of those names, Unhei decides to stick with her real name. The Name Jar is an engaging story about being an immigrant in a new country and valuing your roots. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 80 Multicultural Children’s Books about School

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
by Aya Khalil

Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts. That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. The Arabic Quilt is an authentic story with beautiful illustrations, a glossary of Arabic words and a presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 100 Children’s & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Two White Rabbits
by Jairo Buitrago

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees: Two White Rabbits

Told from a little girl’s perspective, Two White Rabbits follows her and her father as they travel north toward the US border. Along the way, the girl counts everything she sees, from animals by the road to the clouds in the sky. A 2016 Américas Award commended title, this moving picture introduces children to the struggles of undocumented immigrants on their challenging journey. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 2016 Américas Award Winning Children’s Books

Dario and the Whale
by Cheryl Lawton Malone

After moving to Cape Cod from Brazil, Dario finds it hard to make friends since he doesn’t speak English well. But one day Dario befriends someone else who has just arrived in New England and he doesn’t speak any English at all…because he’s a right whale! But what will happen when it’s time for the whale to migrate? Dario and the Whale is a moving story, brought to life by expressive illustrations. ~ Diverse – Preschool

Windrush Child
by John Agard

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees

With one last hug, Windrush child says goodbye to his grandmother and the shores of his Caribbean home before embarking on an adventure across the ocean—under a sky full of promise—to an unknown horizon. With sensitivity and tender lyricism, world-renowned and multi-award-winning poet John Agard narrates the epic story of a child’s voyage to England aboard Empire Windrush. With joyous illustrations, Windrush Child recalls the journey made by the thousands of Caribbean children and their families who traveled to Britain between 1948 and 1971 as part of the Windrush generation. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 50 Children’s Books set in the Caribbean

Where Are You From?
by Yamile Saied Mendez

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees

“Where are you from?” is the question one little girl constantly gets asked. Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn’t give her the response she expects but an even better one. With luminous illustrations and lyrical text, Where Are You From? is a powerful picture book about identity, belonging and self-acceptance. ~ Hispanic – Preschool

Related: 20 Multicultural Children’s Books To Help Build Self-Esteem

Where Butterflies Fill the Sky: A Story of Immigration, Family, and Finding Home
by Zahra Marwan

Zahra lives in a beautiful place where the desert reaches all the way to the sea and one hundred butterflies always fill the sky. When Baba and Mama tell her that their family is no longer welcome here and they must leave, Zahra wonders if she will ever feel at home again–and what about the people she will leave behind? But when she and her family arrive in a new desert, she’s surprised to find magic all around her. Home might not be as far away as she thought it would be. With spare, moving text and vivid artwork, Where Butterflies Fill the Sky is an evocative picture book debut that tells the true story of the author’s immigration from Kuwait to the United States. ~ Asian – Preschool

Sumi’s First Day of School Ever
by Joung Un Kim

It is Sumi’s first day at school in the U.S. The young Korean girl doesn’t understand English and experiences school as a scary, lonely and even mean place. But with the help of an understanding teacher and a friendly classmate, Sumi soon discovers that school isn’t so scary after all. Sumi’s First Day of School Ever is a thoughtful picture book, beautifully illustrated with soft oil crayon drawings. ~ Asian – Preschool

The Seeds of Friendship
by Michael Foreman

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees: The Seeds of Friendship

Little Adam loves his new high-rise home in the city but also misses his home country. He fills his room with pictures of African animals and draws them on the frosted windows in winter. When a teacher gives him some seeds, Adam and his friends plant them everywhere until their urban neighbourhood is transformed into a green landscape. The Seeds of Friendship is a light fable about a little boy who brings the green warmth of his home country to his new urban world. ~ African – Preschool

Related: 18 Multicultural Children’s Books about Friendship

From the Tops of the Trees
by Kao Kalia Yang

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees

“Father, is all of the world a refugee camp?” 4-year-old Kalia has never known life beyond the fences of the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. The Thai camp holds 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. When Kalia asks what is beyond the fence, at first her father has no answers for her. But on the following day, he leads her to the tallest tree in the camp and, secure in her father’s arms, Kalia sees the spread of a world beyond. With sensitive prose and evocative illustrations, From The Tops Of The Trees is a tender true story of the love between a father and a daughter. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 70+ Multicultural Children’s Books about Fathers

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey
by Doug Kuntz

Children's & YA books about immigrants and refugees: Lost and Found Cat

When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they secretly take their beloved cat, Kunkush, with them. When they lose him in Greece, his family has to continue their journey, leaving broken-hearted. Greek aid workers find the cat later and mobilise a worldwide community on the internet and in the news media to find his family. Incredibly, they do find them and are able to reunite them with Kunkush. Lost and Found Cat is a remarkable and touching true story about kindness, empathy, community and hope. ~ Asian – Preschool

Related: 12 Multicultural Children’s Books about the Power of Community





Elementary School

The Little House of Hope
by Terry Catasús Jennings

NEW Multicultural Children's Books May 2022

When Esperanza and her family arrive in the U.S. from Cuba, they rent a little house, una casita. As the family settles into their new house, they all do their part to make it a home. When other immigrant families need a place to stay, it seems only natural for the family in la casita to help. Together they turn the house into a place where other new immigrants can help one another. The Little House of Hope is an inspiring, semi-autobiographical story of how immigrants can help each other find their footing in a new country. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

My Name Is Sangoel
by Karen Williams

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Name is Sangoel

Leaving Sudan after his father died in the war, Sangoel arrives in the US with his mother and sister. Everything is very different from home, and no one can pronounce his name, a tribal name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather. Sangoel thinks of a clever solution, and in the process starts to feel more at home. My Name is Sangoel is a heartfelt story about the plight of refugees and their struggles of identity and belonging. ~ African – Elementary School

Tani’s New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope and Kindness in America


Tani was just six years old when he and his family fled persecution in Nigeria and became refugees in New York City. Tani was amazed, and a little overwhelmed, by all the new things in America. But one new experience turned out to be the most wonderful discovery–chess! With joy and determination, Tani studied hard, practicing chess for hours on the floor of his room in the homeless shelter. Less than a year later, he won the New York State Chess Championship, and through one act of kindness after another, found a new home. Tani’s New Home is an inspiring picture book biography that tells the captivating real-life story of a young chess champion and celebrates the power of hope and hard work. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 150 Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys

Lunch from Home
by Joshua D. Stein

What happens when a child’s favourite packed lunch is met with disparaging comments at the school lunch table? In a classroom of sandwiches, four students stand out with their homemade, culturally-specific lunches. But before they can dig in, their lunches are spoiled by scrunched noses and disgusted reactions from their sandwich-eating classmates. Following each of the four students as they learn to cope with their first “lunch box moments”, Lunch From Home is a heartwarming story that reminds us all that one’s food is a reflection of self and an authentic celebration of culture. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

No English
by Jacqueline Jules

New at school from Argentina, all Blanca can say is “No English”. Instead of doing classwork, she draws pictures. Diane, who sits next to Blanca, finds this unfair and gets increasingly annoyed with her. With the help of the teacher, Diane slowly begins to understand how difficult things are for Blanca and makes an effort to befriend her. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Four Feet, Two Sandals
by Karen Lynn Williams

Children's Books set in Pakistan: Four Feet, Two Sandals

Lina and Feroza both live in a refugee camp in Pakistan. When aid workers bring a donation of used clothing, they each find one perfectly fitting sandal of the same pair. Instead of fighting over the sandals, the girls decide to share them and develop a close friendship. Four Feet, Two Sandals is a touching book about two refugee children whose friendship helps them through the hardship of their lives as refugees.  ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 15 Children’s Books set in Pakistan

by Rebecca Young

A boy sets off to sea to find a new home, bringing with him a teacup full of earth. Some days, the journey is peaceful, others, storms threaten to overturn his boat. At last, the boy reaches land, and together with another traveler builds a new home. With lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, Teacup is a reassuring book about tough new beginnings, such as a big move, long-distance separation, or being a refugee. ~ Diverse – Elementary School

Still Dreaming / Seguimos Soñando 
by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez

New multicultural children's & YA books October 2022

Faced with the prospect of being separated from each other, a young boy and his family make the difficult decision to leave their home and begin a journey filled with uncertainty. On the road, they meet other people like them. Families with deep roots tied to the land. Others that helped build the railroads. Some were shop owners and factory workers. Each with similar hopes and dreams. Between 1930 and 1940, an estimated two million people living in the United States were forcibly removed and sent to live in Mexico. Told from a child’s perspective, Still Dreaming shines a light on this often-overlooked period of United States history–Mexican Repatriation. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books

Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush
by Patrice Lawrence

NEW Multicultural Children's & YA Books May 2023

Ava is asked to dress up as an inspirational figure for her school assembly, but who should she choose? Granny suggests famous familiar figures such as Winifred Atwell, Mary Seacole, and Rosa Parks, but Ava’s classmates have already claimed them. When she finds a mysterious old suitcase and Granny shares her own history, and how she came to England on the Empire Windrush many years ago, Ava realizes that there is a hero very close to home—her very own brave and beloved granny. Granny Came Here On The Empire Windrush is a heartfelt story about the struggles and achievements of a generation of African Caribbeans who traveled across the Atlantic to call a new country home. ~ African – Elementary School

Related: 50 Children’s Books set in the Caribbean

Shapes, Lines, and Light: My Grandfather’s American Journey
by Katie Yamasaki

Multicultural Children's & YA Books September 2022

Minoru Yamasaki described the feeling he sought to create in his buildings as “serenity, surprise, and delight.” In Shapes, Lines, and Light his granddaughter charts his life and work, from his childhood in Seattle’s Japanese immigrant community, to paying his way through college working in Alaska’s notorious salmon canneries, his success in architectural school, and the transformative structures he imagined and built. A Japanese American man who faced brutal anti-Asian racism in post–World War II America and an outsider to the architectural establishment, he nonetheless left his mark on the world, from the American Midwest to New York City, Asia, and the Middle East. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

Brothers in Hope
by Mary Williams

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters: Brothers in Hope

This award-winning picture book tells the true story of Garang Deng, one of 20,000 Sudanese war orphans. The 8-year-old boy was one of the leaders of the orphans who walked more than a thousand miles in search for safety. Half of them died on the dangerous 4-year-long journey. Those who made it to Ethiopia had to flee again when war arrived there, this time to Kenya. Years later, 3,800 of the children found a new home in the U.S.  Brothers in Hope is a heartbreaking yet inspirational story about the unyielding power of the human spirit. ~ African – Elementary School

La Luna Mango (Spanish Edition)
by Diane de Anda

Hispanic Children's & YA Books

When her father is taken away and faces deportation, Maricela and her family are left to deal with the grief, uncertainty and challenges ahead. But Maricela learns that her love for her father is sustained even though he is no longer part of her daily life. With expressive illustrations, La Luna Mango is a touching picture book about undocumented immigrants, family, loss and grief. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: 300+ Hispanic Children’s & YA Books

My Two Blankets
by Irena Kobald

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Two Blankets

Immigrating from Sudan to Australia with her aunt, everything feels strange for Cartwheel in the new country: the food, the people, the animals, and even the wind. An old blanket gives Cartwheel comfort, until she makes a new friend who helps her learn new words every day and makes her feel more and more at home. My Two Blankets is a heart-warming story of the difficulties immigrants face and the power of friendship. ~ African – Elementary School

Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine
by Hannah Moushabeck

As bedtime approaches, three young girls eagerly await the return of their father who tells them stories of a faraway homeland—Palestine. Through their father’s memories, the Old City of Jerusalem comes to life: the sounds of juice vendors beating rhythms with brass cups, the smell of argileh drifting through windows, and the sight of doves flapping their wings toward home. These daughters of the diaspora feel love for a place they have never been, a home they cannot visit. But, as their father’s story comes to an end, they know that through his memories, they will always return. Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine is a moving love letter to home, family, and hope. ~ Asian – Elementary School

The Journey
by Francesca Sanna

This beautifully illustrated book follows a family’s journey as they leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. The Journey is a touching book about the unimaginably difficult journey and the incredible resilience of refugees. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Dear Baobab
by Cheryl Foggo

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Dear Baobab

Moving from Tanzania to Canada with his aunt and uncle, little Maiko feels homesick. He remembers the big baobab tree in his home village, and feels a connection to a small spruce tree in his new home. Seven years old just like Maiko, the tree sings to him and shares his secrets. When there is talk of cutting down the tree because it is too close to the house, Maiko tries to save it. After all he knows what it feels like to be planted in the wrong place. Dear Baobab is one of my favourite multicultural picture books about immigrants, because of its easy-to-relate-to allegory of an uprooted tree. ~ African – Elementary School

Colour of Home
by Mary Hoffman

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: The Colour of Home

Forced to flee Somalia, Hassan misses the colours of Africa in his cold and grey new home country. Painting a picture of his old home in a school art project helps him deal with his homesickness and the trauma of leaving a war-torn country. Hassan slowly starts to see the beauty of his new home in America, too. The Colour of Home is a poignant story about the trauma of being a refugee, beautifully complemented by bright, impressionistic illustrations. ~ African – Elementary School

A Shelter in Our Car
by Monica Gunning

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: A Shelter In Our Car

Little Zettie and her Mama left Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United States. Because Mama can’t find a permanent job, they can’t rent a flat and are forced to live in their car. Mama’s unwavering love and gutsy determination support Zettie through this challenging time. A Shelter In Our Car is an authentic and touching story about homeless immigrants, brought to live by dramatic chalk pastel illustrations. ~ African – Elementary School

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation
by Edwidge Danticat

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Mama's Nightingale

When Saya’s mother is sent to an immigration detention center, the young girl finds comfort in listening to the bedtime stories her mom records and sends. Her mother’s Haitan folklore tales and her father’s attempts to reunite their family inspire Saya to write a story herself, one that might even bring her mother home. Stunningly illustrated, acclaimed Mama’s Nightingale is a touching and tender immigration story that shows that a child can make a difference. ~  African – Elementary School

When Christmas Feels Like Home
by Gretchen Griffith

Multicultural Children's Books about Christmas

Eduardo’s family has just moved to the U.S. from a small village in Mexico. The other children don’t speak his language and they don’t play fútbol. His family promises Eduardo that he will feel at home by Christmas, when “your words float like clouds from your mouth” and “trees will ride on cars.” Beautifully illustrated and sprinkled with Spanish words, When Christmas feels like Home teaches children that home is wherever family is. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: 40 Multicultural Children’s Books about Christmas

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote

A young rabbit awaits the return of his papa who went to find work in the great carrot and lettuce fields. Eventually little Pancho decides to go and look for his father. A coyote offers to help him in exchange for his food. But when the food is gone, the coyote is still hungry… Award-winning Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is an empathetic and suspenseful story about the hardships of undocumented immigrants seeking a better life for their families. With folk-art illustrations and poignant text full of emotion, this allegorical book is probably the most unique of all multicultural picture books about immigration. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aqui hasta alla
by Amada Irma Perez

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Diary From Here to There

When Amada overhears her parents talking about moving Mexico to California, she is so worried she can’t sleep. Will she ever see her best friend again? What if she can’t learn English? Amada starts writing down her feelings and thoughts in her diary, and continues to do so throughout the journey north. My Diary From Here To There is a heartfelt story about a young girl who learns that with her family’s love and a strong belief in herself, she will be able to cope with anything. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

My Name Is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River
by Jane Medina

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My name Is Jorge

New to US, Jorge is torn between wanting to fit in and not wanting to forget his homeland. His family still does everything like they used to in Mexico, but Jorge wants to learn English and make friends. In 27 moving poems My Name Is Jorge describes a young boy’s struggle to adjust to life in a new country. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

My Dog Is Lost
by Ezra Jack Keats

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Dog Is Lost!

One of Keats’ first multicultural children’s books, My Dog Is Lost! is a touching story about a Hispanic boy newly arrived in New York from Puerto Rico. Speaking only Spanish, he searches the city for his lost dog and meets children from Chinatown, Little Italy and Harlem. Playfully mixing English and Spanish, this classic picture book is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1960. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

More books by Ezra Jack Keats and info about the author: Author spotlight: Ezra Jack Keats

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor
by Maria Dismondy

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!

Gabe cries when his mother drops him off for his first day of school in America. He doesn’t speak English and does not understand the mean things Johnny says to him (“crybaby”). With the help of his other class mates, Gabe soon becomes part of the school community. And with his kindness he also eventually wins over Johnny. Chocolate Milk, Por favor! shows the challenges a young immigrant faces and the positive effects of kindness.  ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

The Quiet Place
by Sarah Stewart

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: The Quiet Place

In her new home in the US in the 1950s, Isabel misses so much about Mexico, especially her aunt Lupita and hearing Spanish. But she also experiences some exciting new things, for example a snow storm. And Isabel loves her “quiet place”, a big box where she reads her books and writes letters to Aunt Lupita. Told through these letters, The Quiet Place is a charming story about a young girl adjusting to life in a new country. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

by Andrea Wang

best multicultural picture books of 2021

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch. The whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the snail covered watercress as they can. At first, the young girl is embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Award-winning Watercress is a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 2022 ALA Award-Winning Multicultural Children’s & YA Books

From North to South/Del Norte al Sure
by René Colato Laínez

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: From North to South

When Mamá is sent back to Mexico for not having proper papers, José and his Papá drive all the way from California to Tijuana to visit her in a shelter for recently deported women. They bring her bring clothes, photographs, and drawings, and Jose helps his mother in the garden. He promises to take care of the garden at home until his mother is able to return. With engaging illustrations From North to South tells the moving story of a family torn apart because of immigration issues but sticking together with love and hope in uncertain times. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

A Movie in My Pillow/Una pelicula en mi almohada
by Jorge Argueta

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: A Movie In My Pillow

Jorgito lives in San Francisco, but he often thinks of his native El Salvador – the volcanoes, his abuela’s stories, and the tasty cornmeal pupusas. Over time Jorgito’s memories together with his new adventures in America form “a movie in his pillow”, a patchwork of dreams woven by his new bicultural identity.  A Movie in My Pillow is Argueta’s first collection of poems for children, conveying a delightful sense of wonder. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

My Shoes and I
by Rene Colato Lainez

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Shoes and I

Mario’s mother has sent him new shoes from the US. He will need them for the long and hard journey he embarks on with his father. They are about to leave El Salvador to join Marios’ mother, walking for miles, riding buses, climbing mountains, crossing rivers and the borders of three countries. My Shoes and I is a heartfelt story about a young boy whose faith in his new shoes helps him get through this difficult journey. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome
by Kat Zhang

Multicultural Children's Books about School

Amy’s class has a new student from China! Amy tries hard to make Lin feel included, but she can’t draw him out of his shell. Then she sees Lin chattering happily in Chinese with his family. The gears in her head start to turn, and a plan blossoms. Step one: invite Lin to her dumpling party… ​With a little help from her grandma and a shiny new banner, can Amy give Lin the warmest welcome? Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome is a warmhearted and playfully illustrated follow-up picture book to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 40+ Multicultural Book Series for Girls & Boys

Home at Last
by Susan Middleton Elya

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Home At Last

While little Ana is adjusting well to her new life in the United States, her mother struggles because she doesn’t speak English. No one understands her when she tries to get help for Ana’s sick brother. Mama decides to take English lessons. With her increasing knowledge of the language, her confidence and her sense of belonging grow, too. Home At Last is a tender story about an immigrant family overcoming adversity, brought to life by expressive illustrations. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

When This World Was New
by D H Figueredo

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: When This World Was New

Coming from a Caribbean island, Danilito is scared on his first day in New York City: It is cold, everything is foreign, and he doesn’t speak English. His parents also have worries, from finding a home to finding jobs and adjusting to their new surroundings. But when his dad takes him on a trip through the snowy city the next day, Danilito’s slowly starts to to embrace his new home. When This World Was New is a reassuring story about a young immigrant adjusting to his new life. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

First Day in Grapes
by L King Perez

Multicultural Children's Books about school: First Day in Grapes

Every September Chico starts at a new school. His family moves up and down California picking fruits and vegetables. Not fluent in English, Chico often gets picked on at school but his first day in Grade 3 is different. His teacher is friendly and recognizes his excellent math skills, and his classmates accept him, too. When some older children bully Chico at lunch time he responds in a brave and creative way. Pura Belpré Honour Book First Day in Grapes tells a heartfelt story of inner strength and personal triumph. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2022

One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: One Green Apple

Being the new kid in school in a new country, Farah doesn’t speak English, and only listens and nods. On a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah finds comfort in the fact that some things sound the same as they did at home, from dogs eating to people’s friendly laughter. Making apple cider together, Farah starts to connect with her classmates. With warm paintings and sensitive text, One Green Apple puts the reader into the shoes of a young Muslim immigrant. ~ Asian – Elementary School

My Name Is Yoon
by Helen Recorvits

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Name Is Yoon

After moving to the states from Korea, Yoon’s father teaches her how to write her name in English. Yoon doesn’t like how alone the letters of her name stand in English, which is just how she feels in America. She eventually accepts the different writing, knowing that her name will always mean “shining wisdom”. Award-winning My name is Yoon is a heartfelt story about finding your place in a new country, complemented by rich, almost surrealistic paintings. ~ Asian – Elementary School

From the same series: Yoon and the Jade Bracelet // Yoon and the Christmas Mitten

by Yuyi Morales

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: Dreamers

With lyrical text and the most beautiful illustrations, Dreamers tells Yuyi Morales’ own immigration story. She left almost everything behind in Mexico and came to the US with her infant son in 1994. What she brought with her though were her strength, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Here I Am
by Patti Kim

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Here I Am

Newly arrived in America from an Asian country, a young boy is overwhelmed by the lights and noise of a busy city. He finds comfort in a red seed he brought from his faraway home country. When he loses the seed, the search for it eventually leads him to new friendship. Without words and in expressive cartoon style, Here I am describes the confusion and sadness of an uprooted child. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Hannah is My Name
by Belle Yang

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Hannah Is My Name

Hannah is the new name an immigrant family gives their daughter because they think it will be easy to pronounce in the US. While the family is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their green cards, Hannah goes to school and learns English. Based on the author’s own immigration experience, Hannah Is My Name captures a young girl’s feelings as she adjust to her new life. The charming Chinese-influenced paintings bring the story to life. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Angel Child, Dragon Child
by Michele Maria Surat

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Angel Child, Dragon Child

Little Ut from Vietnam doesn’t like her new school in America. She doesn’t speak English and the other children laugh at her when she speaks Vietnamese. Most of all she misses her mom terribly who had to stay in Vietnam. One boy, Raymond, picks on Ut every day but in the end it is him who thinks of the perfect way to help her. Angel Child, Dragon Child is a sweet story about a young immigrant girl adjusting to her new life. ~ Asian – Elementary School

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems
by Kam Mak

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: My Chinatown

“The fortune-teller sits outside, / huddled in her stool / buried in her coat, /  hat down over her forehead.” Acclaimed My Chinatown is a vivid homage to Chinese culture in the United States. With richly detailed paintings the touching poems explore a young Chinese boy’s experiences during his first year in Chinatown as he grows to love his new home. ~ Asian – Elementary School

More Poetry Books: 26 Multicultural Poetry Books for children aged 0 to 10

Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong
by Frances Park

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong

“My heart beats in two places”, begins this richly illustrated picture book. For Jangmi, a young Korean girl, it is incredibly hard to leave her home at 382 Shin Dang Dong and move to Massachusetts. Good-bye 382 Shin Dang Dong is a sensitive immigration story that follows an 8-year-old girl as she adjusts to her new neighborhood, makes a friend and slowly begins to feel at home. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Let’s Go See Papá!
by Lawrence Schimel

 Go See Papa!

A young girl loves Sundays because that’s when her father calls from the far-away US where he works. The girl thinks of all the fun things she used to do with her dad and keeps a record of what happens every day to share with him when she finally sees him again. But when her dad announces that she and her mother will move to the US, the girl has mixed feelings as she will have to leave her grandmother, her friends and her beloved dog behind. Let’s go see Papa! is a touching story about an absent father and leaving behind those you love.  ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Tea with Milk
by Allen Say

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Tea With Milk

This exquisitely illustrated picture book tells of an immigration not to but from the US. May loves her life in San Francisco where she integrates her Japanese home culture and American culture with ease. But when her family moves back to Japan after her High School graduation, May feels lost and homesick for America. When her parents expect her to marry and hire a matchmaker, May sets out to find her own way in Osaka. Tea with Milk continues the author’s family story he started telling in Grandfather’s Journey, this time focusing on his mother’s experiences. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Areli Is A Dreamer
by Areli Morales

best multicultural picture books of 2021

When Areli was a baby, her parents moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family–and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela’s house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli’s limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But with time, America became her home. Written by a DACA Dreamer, Areli Is A Dreamer is a vibrant and powerful immigration story. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

A Piece of Home
by Jeri Watts

Hee Jun struggles to adjust when his family moves from Korea to West Virginia. He looks different to his classmates, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says. But slowly he learns English and begins to make friends. When he finds a flower from Korea, he brings it to his grandmother to plant in their new garden. With lyrical text and soft illustrations, A Piece of Home is a gentle story about starting over in an unfamiliar place. ~ Asian – Elementary School

by Juan Felipe Herrera

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018: Imagine

In lyrical text, Juan Felipe Herrera describes how he grew up sleeping outside, moving with his family several times, and teaching himself English to becoming the United States Poet Laureate and reading his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? Imagine is a poem of endless possibility that will speak to children everywhere. ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

Related: 26 Multicultural Poetry Books for Children

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist
by Julie Leung

Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019

Tyrus Wong traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art and enrolled at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime: Using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Disney’s BambiPaper Son beautifully captures the life story of the painter who changed the world of animation forever. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Lailah’s Lunchbox
by Reem Faruqi

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: Lailah's Lunchbox

Lailah’s family recently moved to the US from Abu Dhabi. When Ramadan begins, she is excited to participate in the fasting for the first time but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she won’t be eating lunch with them. With help from the school librarian and her teacher, Lailah finds a way to overcome her fears and makes new friends who respect her beliefs. Lailah’s Lunchbox is a gentle story about feeling different, friendship and faith. ~ Asian – Elementary School

Related: 21 Children’s Books about Ramadan and Eid

A Journey Toward Hope
by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees

NEW Multicultural Children's Books August 2020

Every year, roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors seek asylum at the US/Mexico border, the majority fleeing the systemic violence of Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. A Journey Toward Hope is a heartfelt book that tells the story of Rodrigo, a 14-year-old Honduran; Alessandra, a 10-year-old Guatemalan; and Salvadoran siblings Laura and Nando. Though their reasons for making the trip are different, the four children band together, finding strength in one another as they share the dreams of their past and the hopes for their future.  ~ Hispanic – Elementary School

I’m New Here
by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration: I'm New Here

Jin from Korea, Maria from Guatemala, and Fatima from Somalia are all new at their American elementary school. Each of them struggles to speak and write in English. With determination and the encouragement from peers and teachers, the three children feel more and more at home, whilst staying connected to their roots and cultures. I’m New Here is a multicultural picture book about immigration that shows how school communities can help new children feel at home. ~ Diverse – Elementary School





Middle School

Voice for Refuge (Our Stories Carried us Here)
by Zaynab Abdi

Zaynab was born in Somalia and raised by her grandmother in Yemen, where they experienced a simple but beautiful life before unrest came to the country. Told in both English and Arabic, Voice For Refuge follows Zaynab as she flees to Egypt with her sister, joins her mother and two sisters she has never met in the U.S., and takes on the leadership opportunities within high school and university. Upon meeting Malala Yousafzai, and speaking at the United Nations, she becomes a voice for refuge. This graphic memoir is a powerful addition to classrooms and school libraries, expanding their collections to include the voice of Black, Muslim, Middle Eastern immigrant girls and women. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 100 Children’s & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Lucky Broken Girl
by Ruth Behar

Diverse Jewish Books for Children & Teenagers

Newly arrived in the U.S. from Cuba in the 1960’s, Ruthie Mizrahi is confined to a full-body cast after a life-changing accident. With the support of her Cuban Ashkenazi-Sephardic family and a diverse group of neighbours, the fifth-grader finds the strength to heal and grow. Based on the author’s childhood, 2018 Pura Belpré award-winner Lucky Broken Girl is an unforgettable middle-grade novel that celebrates courage, resilience and the Latinx experience. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

New from Here
by Kelly Yang

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books of 2022

When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, 10-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California. Knox has two days to prepare for an international move—and for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work. At his new school, Knox’s classmates think that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus. As anti-Asian racism skyrockets, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re oceans apart? Sometimes when the world is spinning out of control, the best way to get through it is to embrace our own lovable uniqueness. New From Here is a poignant story about courage, hope, and resilience. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 100 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

Finding Home: The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees
by Jen Sookfong Lee

What drives people to search for new homes? From war zones to politics, there are many reasons why people have always searched for a place to call home. Finding Home: The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees shows how human migration has shaped our world. The book explores its origins and the issues immigrants and refugees are facing today, and tells first-hand stories of people who have moved across the globe looking for safety, security and happiness. Author Jen Sookfong Lee shares her personal experience of growing up as the child of immigrants and gives a human face to the realities of being an immigrant or refugee today. ~ Diverse – Middle School

Save Me a Seat
by Gita Varadarajan

Multicultural Children's Books about school: Save Me A Seat

Ravi, who recently arrived from India, and Joe, whose best friend just moved away, both attend Fifth Grade at the same school. They each struggle in their own way to acclimatize to the new situation. Both being targeted by Dillon Samreen, the school’s biggest bully, Ravi and Joe try to take control of their lives together. Recently released Save Me A Seat is a heartfelt middle grade novel about fitting in and staying true to yourself. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 50+ Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading

Cuba in My Pocket
by Adrianna Cuevas

“I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.” When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. From the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopezcomes Cuba In My Pocket, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author’s family history. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: 36 Children’s Books set in the Caribbean

The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandan

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters: The Night Diary

After India has been divided into two countries (India and Pakistan), 12-year-old half-Muslim/half-Hindu Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs anymore. Her family embarks on a dangerous journey to find a new home. Told through Nisha’s letters to her late mother, The Night Diary is a poignant story of loss, identity and hope. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 21 Middle Grade Novels With Multiracial Characters

Santiago’s Road Home
by Alexandra Diaz

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Books Of 2020

Determined to get away from his abusive grandmother, Santiago joins the kind María Dolores and her young daughter, Alegría, on their journey to the U.S. None of the three travelers realizes that the journey through Mexico to the border is just the beginning of their story. Santiago’s Road Home is a timely and harrowing novel about a young boy who gets detained by ICE while crossing the border from Mexico. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

The Red Pencil
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters: The Red Pencil

Another powerful story about a Sudanese war orphan, this time told from a girl’s perspective. Amira’s placid farm life is devastated when war arrives in her village and she loses nearly everything. The 12-year-old has to make the long journey on foot to a refugee camp. Just when she begins to lose hope, the simple gift of a red pencil opens her mind to the possibilities that may still lie ahead. With Pinkney’s poetic language and Evans’ expressive drawing, The Red Pencil is an engaging book about tragic loss and the power of hope. ~ African – Middle School

Efrén Divided
by Ernesto Cisneros

Efrén Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family. But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá is deported across the border to Tijuana, México. Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to take care of and try to reunite his family. Efrén Divided is a heartfelt book about family, hardship and deportation. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: Pura Belpré Award Winners 1996 – 2020

Other Words for Home: A Newbery Honor Award Winner
by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. Other Words From Home is a lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself. ~ Asian – Middle School

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
by Judith Robbins Rose

Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading: Look Both Ways In The Barrio Blanco

Daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants, Jacinta Juarez doesn’t know much about the world outside her barrio. When a well-known news anchorwoman becomes her mentor after reporting on her youth center, Jacinta finds herself caught between two cultures. She want to embrace a better future but also longs for the comfort of her family and the barrio. When her family is torn apart, Jacinta needs to find her own strength to pick up the pieces. Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco is a charming and authentic coming of age story, told with humour and sensitivity. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas

Best Multicultural Middle Grade Novels of 2016: It Ain't So Awful Falafel

In times of the anti-Iran sentiments of the 1970s, fitting in has become even more difficult for brainy loner Zomorod Yousefzadeh. Her family has just moved again, this time to Newport Beach, California, and she is determined to fit in, even changing her name to all-American Cindy. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel is a moving yet lighthearted middle grade novel from the author of best-selling Funny in Farsi~ Asian – Middle School 

Parachute Kids: A Graphic Novel
by Betty C. Tang

NEW Multicultural Children's & YA Books April 2023

After an action-packed vacation in America, Feng-Li’s parents deliver shocking news: They are returning to Taiwan and leaving Feng-Li and her older siblings in California on their own. The three kids must fend for themselves in a strange new world―and get along. Starting a new school, learning a new language, and trying to make new friends while managing a household is hard, but thankfully, there are some hilarious moments to balance the stress and loneliness. But as tensions escalate―and all three kids get tangled in a web of bad choices―can Feng-Li keep her family together? Parachute Kids is a fast-paced, and heartrending graphic novel about three siblings living on their own as undocumented new immigrants. ~ Asian – Middle School

I Lived on Butterfly Hill
by Marjorie Agosin

Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading: I Lived On Butterfly Hill

11-year-old Celeste lives a peaceful life among family, friends and neighbours in the idyllic seaside town of Valparaiso, Chile. But her world is turned upside down when warships arrive, and classmates start disappearing without an explanation. Celeste doesn’t quite understand but she knows that no one is safe anymore. Her parents have to go into hiding and send Celeste to America to protect her. Based on true events during Pinochet’s dictatorship, I Lived on Butterfly Hill is a heart-rending historical fiction novel about exile and reunification, loss and hope. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Related: 115 Multicultural Middle Grade Novels for Summer Reading

Alicia Alonzo Takes the Stage
by Rebel Girls

Multicultural Children's Books About Brave Ballerinas

From the moment Alicia slips on pointe shoes for the first time, she’s determined to become a professional ballerina. A few years later, Alicia moves from Cuba to the United States to follow her dreams. But then, she begins to lose her sight. Stuck in bed and only able to practice with her fingertips, Alicia doesn’t give up. She finds a way to get back on stage, dancing into the hearts of audiences as one of the world’s most famous prima ballerinas. Part of the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls seriesAlicia Alonso Takes the Stage is a heartfelt story of perseverance in the face of adversity. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

by Reem Faruqi

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters

When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts. And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais—who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates. Unsettled is a warm and powerful coming-of-age story about family and belonging. ~ Asian – Middle School

El Lector
by William Durbin

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - Middle School: El Lector

In the immigrant community of Ybor City 13-year-old Bella wants to become a lector, just like her grandfather. He reads novels, the newspaper and union news to the workers in a cigar factory. But this is the time of the Depression, where workers and owners clash, and racial tensions rise and jeapordize Bella’s plans for the future. In rich detail El Lector is an accessible middle school novel that brings to life the immigrant culture of Ybor City during the Depression.  ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Call Me Maria
by Judith Ortiz Cofer

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - Middle School: Call Me Maria

Call Me Maria tells the story of a young Puerto Rican girl living in a basement apartment in New York. With her mother still in Puerto Rico and her father being the super of their building, Maria tries to find her place in an unfamiliar culture. Written in letters, poems and prose, this is a powerful middle grade novel about a young girl who finds her voice through writing letters and poetry.  ~ Hispanic – Middle School

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems
by David Bowles

Multicultural 2019 ALA Youth Media Award-Winning Books: They Call Me Guero

Twelve-year-old Güero is a Mexican American border kid with red hair, light skin and freckles. He is a book, game and music nerd and has just started 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. They Call Me Güero is a vibrant novel-in-poems about growing up between two cultures. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Return to Sender
by Julia Alvarez

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - Middle School: Return To Sender

When 11-year-old Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to let undocumented Mexican laborers run their Vermont farm. Tyler soon befriends the workers’ daughter, Mari, with whom he shares an interest in stargazing. Can their friendship survive when immigration agents raid the farm and imprison Mari’s parents? Told through alternating viewpoints of Tyler and Mari, Return to Sender is a contemporary immigration story without easy answers but full of hope. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, grow up in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya where there is never enough food, and no access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Award-winning When Stars Are Scattered is a heartbreaking yet hopeful graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting. ~ African – Middle School

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

While I Was Away
by Waka T. Brown

In order to improve her Japanese, twelve-year-old Waka is sent to Tokyo for a few months to live with her strict grandmother. Plucked from her straight-A-student life in rural Kansas, she faces the culture shock of a lifetime. Waka struggles with reading and writing in kanji, doesn’t quite mesh with her distant Obaasama, and gets made fun of at school. Even though this is the country her parents came from, Waka has never felt more like an outsider. If she’s always been the “smart Japanese girl” in America but is now the “dumb foreigner” in Japan, where is home…and who will Waka be when she finds it? While I Was Away is an empowering middle grade memoir that takes readers on a journey to 1980s Japan. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

World in Between: Based on a True Refugee Story
by K.Trebincevic & S.Shapiro

Kenan loves drawing and playing soccer with his friends. He wants to be a famous athlete, hates it when his classmates trash his buck teeth by calling him “Bugs Bunny,” and fights with his big brother, who’s too busy and cool for him lately. Sometimes his parents drive him crazy, but he feels loved and protected—until the war ruins everything. Soon, Kenan’s family is trapped in their home with little food or water, surrounded by enemies. Ten months later, with help from friends and strangers, they finally make it out of the country alive. But that’s only the beginning of their journey. An action-packed page-turner with heart about a Muslim boy doing his best during difficult times, World in Between celebrates the power of community, resilience, hope and kindness. ~ Diverse – Middle School

Related: 100 Children’s & YA Books with Muslim Characters

Lety Out Loud
by Angela Cervantes

New Multicultural Children's Books February 2019: Lety Out Loud

Recently immigrated to the U.S., Lety Muñoz loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don’t care how fast she can find the right word in English. When another volunteer sets up a secret competition to determine who will be the official shelter scribe, Lety is worried that if the shelter finds out, they’ll kick her out of the program. And then she’ll never be able to adopt her favourite shelter dog! Lety Out Loud is a touching story about compassion, empathy and living between two cultures. ~ Hispanic – Middle School

Esperanza Rising
by Pam Munoz Ryan

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - Middle School: Esperanza Rising

Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, this is the story of young Esperanza who has to flee from her rich life on a Mexican ranch during the Great Depression. Now living in a camp for Mexican workers in California, she experiences hard labour, poverty and hostility for the first time. Esperanza Rising is a captivating story about immigration, assimilation and a young girl’s growth in the face of change and adversity.  ~ Hispanic – Middle School

We Belong
by Cookie Hiponia Everman

Stella and Luna know that their mama, Elsie, came from the Philippines when she was a child, but they don’t know much else. So one night they ask her to tell them her story. As they get ready for bed, their mama spins two tales: that of her youth as a strong-willed middle child and immigrant; and that of the young life of Mayari, the mythical daughter of a god. Both are tales of sisterhood and motherhood, and of the difficult experience of trying to fit into a new culture. We Belong is an extraordinarily beautiful novel-in-verse that weaves a dramatic immigrant story together with Filipino mythology. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 40 Filipino American Books for Children & Teenagers

The Samosa Rebellion
by Shanthi Sekaran

Muki Krishnan shares a bedroom with his grandmother, who has just arrived on the island of Mariposa from India. Shortly after, the president divides citizens into ‘Butterflies’—families who have lived in Mariposa for three generations—and ‘Moths’, who, like Muki’s family, are more recent immigrants. Soon a camp is built to imprison Moths before sending them away. When Paati is taken there, Muki discovers that a secret rebellion is underway, and realizes that rescuing Paati will be the fight of his life. The Samos Rebellion is a timely novel about racism, classism, and xenophobia. ~ Asian – Middle School

Related: 180+ Asian &  Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

90 Miles to Havana
by Enrique Flores-Galbis

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - Middle School: 90 Miles To Havana

Based on the author’s own experience as a child refugee, this compelling historical novel is set around the evacuation of 14,000 children from Cuba to the U.S. in 1961. Being separated from his parents and his brothers, young Julian has to adjust to the harsh life in a refugee camp in Miami. 90 Miles to Havana is a heart-wrenching story about loss, betrayal and hope.  ~ Hispanic – Middle School





High School

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
by Don Brown

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters: The Unwanted

Award-winning The Unwanted is an eye-opening exploration of the Syrian refugee crisis. With straightforward text and expressive drawings in muted colours, the book tells the stories of the survivors  –  the heartbreaking horrors they went through, their courage and resilience and their hopes and dreams for a better future. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 2022 ALA Award-Winning Multicultural Children’s & YA Books

Where I Belong
by Marcia Argueta Mickelson 

Hispanic Children's & YA Books

Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros “Millie” Vargas has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, ever since her parents sought asylum there. Millie devotes herself to school and caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family. 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. But when Mr. Wheeler, a U.S. Senate candidate, mentions Millie’s achievements in a campaign speech about “deserving” immigrants, Millie is suddenly faced with journalists, trolls, anonymous threats, and the Wheelers’ good intentions. Where I Belong is a heartfealt story an immigrant teen who has to confront the complexity of her past, the uncertainty of her future, and her place in the country that she believed was home. ~ Hispanic – High School

Home Is Not a Country
by Safia Elhillo

Best Multicultural Young Adult Books of 2021

“my mother meant to name me for her favorite flower / its sweetness garlands made for pretty girls / i imagine her yasmeen bright & alive / & i ache to have been born her instead.” 15-year-old Nima doesn’t feel understood by her mother, who grew up in a different land, and she doesn’t feel accepted in her suburban town. Nima grapples with the phantom of a life not chosen—the name her parents meant to give her at birth—Yasmeen. But that other girl might be more real than Nima knows. From Sudanese American poet Elhillo comes award-winning Home Is Not A Country, a mesmerizing novel-in-verse about one girl’s journey to face the ephemeral girl she might have been. ~ African – High School

Related: 20 Children’s Books set in the Middle East & Northern Africa

Homes: A Refugee Story
by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung

In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs in Syria just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Acclaimed Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. ~ Asian – High School 

The Lines We Cross
by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Children's & YA Books with Muslim Characters: The Lines We Cross

Set in Australia, this timely young adult novel tells the story of Michael who attends anti-immigration protests with his parents, and Mina, a refugee from Afghanistan, who is on the other side of the protest lines. When Mina starts at Michael’s school, the two teenagers enter into an unlikely relationship. With increasing discrimination against immigrants, Michael and Mina have to face difficult decisions. The Lines We Cross is a poignant and thought-provoking Romeo-and-Juliet story about prejudice and discrimination against Muslim immigrants. ~ Asian – High School

Living Beyond Borders: Growing up Mexican in America
by Margarita Longoria

Hispanic Children's & YA Books

Living Beyond Borders is a collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics by celebrated Mexican American authors who share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate. This memorable anthology is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers. ~ Hispanic – High School

Related: 30 Diverse Children’s Anthologies About Trailblazing Women

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
by Phuc Tran

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America with his family. He struggles to assimilate to small town life in Pennsylvania. Tran navigates the challenges of immigration, racism, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations of his parents. For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature. ~ Asian – High School

Never Look Back
by Lilliam Rivera

Hispanic Children's & YA Books

Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato — Eury arrives in the Bronx, fully expecting the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. When she meets Pheus — a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer — she can set her fears aside for a while. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives. Never Look Back is a modern Afro-Latinx retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice. ~ Hispanic – High School

by Maurene Goo

Being a first-generation Asian American immigrant is hard. You know what’s harder? Being the daughter of one. Priscilla is first-generation Korean American, a former high school cheerleader who expects Sam to want the same all-American nightmare. Meanwhile, Sam is a girl of the times who has no energy for clichéd high school aspirations. After a huge blowup, Sam is desperate to get away from Priscilla, but instead, finds herself thrown back. Way back. To her shock, Sam lands in the ’90s . . . alongside a 17-year-old Priscilla. Now, Sam has to deal with outdated tech, regressive ’90s attitudes, and her growing feelings for sweet, mysterious football player Jamie, who just might be the right guy in the wrong era. With the clock ticking, Sam must figure out how to fix things with Priscilla or risk being trapped in an analog world forever. Sam’s blast to the past has her questioning everything she thought she knew about her mom . . . and herself. One thing’s for sure: Time is a mother. Brimming with heart and humor, Throwback asks big questions about what exactly one inherits and loses in the immigrant experience. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 180+ Asian & Asian American Books For Children & Teenagers

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From
by Jennifer De Leon

Hispanic Children's & YA Books

First-generation American Latinx Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand. Don’t Ask Me Where I Am From is a thought-provoking yet humorous story about race, identity, friendship and belonging. ~ Hispanic – High School 

Related: 100 Children’s & YA Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination

Dream Things True
by Marie Marquardt

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - High School: Dream Things True

Evan and Alma’s paths have crossed a few times in the fifteen years that they have lived in the same town. When Evan helps Alma stop her father’s out-of-control truck, the two teenagers fall in love, trying to ignore their different backgrounds. Evan is the nephew of a senator and seems to have it all, Alma comes from a family of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Both dream of escaping their small town in Georgia, Evan’s one-way ticket being soccer, Alma’s her academic success. Dream Things True is a compelling debut novel about love and fear, highlighting the harsh reality of undocumented immigrants. ~ Hispanic – High School

The Sun Is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon

Best Multicultural Young Adult Novels: The Sun Is Also A Star

One of the most exciting new YA releases of 2016, The Sun Is Also A Star became an instant New York Times bestseller and will be made into a movie. Natasha’s family is about to be deported to Jamaica. On her last day in New York City she meets Asian American Daniel, the good son and good student. Told in alternating voices, this is a moving and hopeful story about identity, family, and the possibility of love. ~ AfricanAsian- Middle School

Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American
by Laura Gao

New Multicultural Children's Books March 2022

After spending her early years in Wuhan, China, riding water buffalos and devouring stinky tofu, Laura emigrates to Texas, where her hometown is as foreign as Mars—at least until 2020, when COVID-19 makes Wuhan a household name. Messy Roots is a heartfelt graphic memoir about a girl who simply wants to make the basketball team, escape Chinese school, and figure out why girls make her heart flutter. ~ Asian – High School

Related: 80+ Multicultural Graphic Novels for Children & Teenagers

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
by Margarita Engle

Hispanic Multicultural Children's Books - High School: Enchanted Air

Margarita is a girl between two worlds: Feeling lonely in the noisy city of Los Angeles, she longs for the idyllic island of Cuba, her mother’s home country. Her worlds collide when tensions between Cuba and the United States rise and eventually erupt at the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Will she ever be able to visit her beloved island again? Multi-award-winning Enchanted Air is Engle’s deeply personal and hauntingly beautiful memoir-in verse. ~ Hispanic – High School

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3 Responses

  1. Mia Wenjen
    | Reply

    This is such a great list covering immigrants and refugees in KidLit. Thanks so much for sharing this valuable resource with Read Your World Day 2024 and for being such a huge supporter from the very beginning. We so appreciate you and the work that you do!

  2. Lynn
    | Reply

    Please add the award winning book Homes: A Refugee Story
    Book by Abu Bakr Al-Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung

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