Did you know June is Refugee Awareness Month and Immigration Heritage Month? To celebrate, we're sharing books that highlight the refugee and/or immigrant experience in wonderful ways. Check out our full list below!
Wishes tells the powerful, honest story about one Vietnamese family's search for a new home on the other side of the world, and the long-lasting and powerful impact that makes on the littlest member of the family. Inspired by actual events in the author's life, this is a narrative that is both timely and timeless. Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story chronicles a family's difficult and powerful journey to pack up what they can carry and to leave their world behind, traveling to a new and unknown place in a crowded boat. With sparse, poetic, and lyrical text from acclaimed author Muon Van, thoughtful backmatter about the author’s connection to the story, and luminous, stunning illustrations from Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Victo Ngai, Wishes tells a powerful and timely story in a gentle and approachable way for young children.
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .
ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .
MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .
All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers. But there is always the hope of tomorrow.
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.
But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.
On America's 100th birthday, the people of France built a giant gift! It was one of the largest statues the world had ever seen — and she weighed as much as 40 elephants! And when she arrived on our shores in 250 pieces, she needed a pedestal to hold her up. Few of America's millionaires were willing to foot the bill.
Then, Joseph Pulitzer (a poor Hungarian immigrant-cum-newspaper mogul) appealed to his fellow citizens. He invited them to contribute whatever they could, no matter how small an amount, to raise funds to mount this statue. The next day, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters poured in. Soon, Pulitzer's campaign raised enough money to construct the pedestal. And with the help of everyday Americans (including many thousands of schoolchildren!) the Statue of Liberty rose skyward, torch ablaze, to welcome new immigrants for a life of freedom and opportunity!
Front Desk & Three Keys by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.
Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe — Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.
Then one day, Betita's beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum-seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?
Ruth Gruener was a hidden child during the Holocaust. At the end of the war, she and her parents were overjoyed to be free. But their struggles as displaced people had just begun.
In war-ravaged Europe, they waited for paperwork for a chance to come to America. Once they arrived in Brooklyn, they began to build a new life, but spoke little English. Ruth started at a new school and tried to make friends — but continued to fight nightmares and flashbacks of her time during World War II.
The family's perseverance is a classic story of the American dream, but also illustrates the difficulties that millions of immigrants face in the aftermath of trauma.
This is a gripping and human account of a survivor's journey forward with timely connections to refugee and immigrant experiences worldwide today.
María Emilia has just immigrated to the US from Argentina, and jumping into seventh grade in Cedar City, Utah, is not easy. Speaking English all day turns out to be really hard… especially when her classmates poke fun at her accent.
Her saving grace is the stray dog she discovers in her backyard, especially since it looks and acts like the beloved pet cat she used to have in Argentina. Eventually, it turns out the dog isn't a stray after all — she belongs to Emilia's new neighbor, Julián. In order to spend more time with the dog (who totally isn't her reincarnated cat… right?), she agrees to join Julián's band.
But can Emilia find her new voice in the US without losing herself?
Life in Mexico is a death sentence for Emiliano and his sister Sara. To escape the violent cartel that is after them, they flee across the border, seeking a better life in the United States and hoping that they can find a way to bring their pursuers to justice. Sara turns herself over to the authorities to apply for asylum.Emiliano enters the country illegally, planning to live with their father.
But now Sara is being held indefinitely in a detention facility, awaiting an asylum hearing that may never come, finding it harder every day to hold on to her faith and hope. Life for Emiliano is not easy either. Everywhere he goes, it's clear that he doesn't belong. And all the while, the cartel is closing in on them...Emiliano sets off on a tense and dangerous race to find justice, but can he expose the web of crimes from his place in the shadows?
Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes
Lety Munoz sometimes has trouble speaking her mind. Her first language is Spanish and she likes to take her time putting her words together. Lety loves volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter because the dogs and cats there don't care if she can't find the right word.
When the shelter needs a volunteer to write animal profiles, Lety jumps at the chance. But grumpy classmate Hunter also wants to write profiles — so now they have to work as a team. Hunter's not much of a team player, though. He devises a secret competition to decide who will be the official shelter scribe. They'll each write three profiles. Whoever helps get their animals adopted the fastest wins. The loser scoops dog food. Lety reluctantly agrees, but she's worried. If the shelter finds out about the contest, they might kick her out of the program. Then she'll never be able to adopt Spike, her favorite dog at the shelter. Can Lety find her voice before it's too late?