June is Immigrant Heritage Month! Throughout the month, the diverse heritage of the United States as a nation of immigrants is celebrated. A great opportunity to teach all children empathy and kindness towards new immigrants with these touching multicultural picture books about immigration! And for children who have gone or are going through the difficult experience of immigration, these books can be helpful in talking about it and processing their feelings.
Multicultural Picture Books about Immigration
The Name Jar
by Yangsook Choi
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 new in a country and valuing your roots. ~ Asian – Preschool
Two White Rabbits
by Jairo Buitrago
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
More 2016 Américas Award titles: 2016 Américas Award Winning Children’s Books
The Seeds of Friendship
by Michael Foreman
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
My Name Is Sangoel
by Karen Williams
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
My Two Blankets
by Irena Kobald
Moving 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 of immigration and the power of friendship. ~ African – Elementary School
by Cheryl Foggo
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 immigration, because of its easy-to-relate-to allegory of an uprooted tree. ~ African – Elementary School
Colour of Home
by Mary Hoffman
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
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
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
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
by Duncan Tonatiuh
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
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
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
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
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
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
From North to South/Del Norte al Sure
by René Colato Laínez
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
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
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
Home at Last
by Susan Middleton Elya
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
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
One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting
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
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
Here I Am
by Patti Kim
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
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
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
“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
“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
Tea with Milk
by Allen Say
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
by Reem Faruqi
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
More Picture Books about Ramadan: 21 Children’s Books about Ramadan and Eid
Immigrants from diverse ethnicities
I’m New Here
by Anne Sibley O’Brien
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 communitites can help new children feel at home. ~ Diverse – Elementary School
*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon USA, CAN or UK by clicking on the book titles or images*
Karen R Rymer
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What a great list! I’ve read about half these books and they are excellent! I’m looking forward to the others! Thank you so much!
Colours of Us
Thank you! Glad you’re finding this list useful!
Thank you for curating this, even 2 years later it is so so relevant.
I love your lists of PBs because they are such easy access to a topic when I am looking for when talking to my students. Thank you!
Colours of Us
So happy to hear you find my lists useful! Thank you!
A wonderful selection of books on a topic that is so in the news these days. Hopefully they will generated some empathy in the kids who are ready them now. Thanks for putting this together and posting it.
Colours of Us
Thank you! Yes, teaching empathy is so important.
What a comprehensive list! I love that there are so many at the preschool level so even my daughter can access the topic. Thanks for linking up at the Kid Lit Blog Hop.
Great resources, thank you
Great list. I love The Name Jar and My Name is Yoon. I will have to check some of the others out.
Hopping by on the Kidlit Blog Hop.
Colours of Us
Thank you! Glad you find this list useful.
These stories are more important than ever for helping children not feel alone in finding their feet or for encouraging empathy and interaction and welcome…
Colours of Us
Thank you, so true!
Beth @ Pages and Margins
What a wonderful list! Thanks so much for sharing with #diversekidlit!
Colours of Us
Kellee @ Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye)
As I’ve shared in the past, I LOVE your book lists! You really help me push my reading boundaries, and I love it!
Colours of Us
Thank you so much!! It’s comments like these that keep me going! 🙂
Terrific List. I am thinking of doing a library display on immigration next year. I have over 50 nationalities in my school.
Colours of Us
Thank you! So this list might come in handy then!