For preschool and primary age children:
Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen. The third grade girls in Molly’s small town school make fun of Molly, a refugee from religious persecution in Russia, but Molly’s mother helps her to see how they are just like the Pilgrims who came to America in 1620, escaping from persecution to find hope and peace in a new land.
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting and Beth Peck. A family from an unnamed island in the Caribbean travel in a boat to reach America, and land on Thanksgiving Day. In spite of the hardships of the journey, the family is thankful to be in America.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams. Two refugee children in a camp in Pakistan share one pair of shoes, until one of the children leaves to go to America.
For middle graders:
Escape from Warsaw/The Silver Sword by Ian Serrailler. One of my favorite books of all time. Four Polish refugee children travel across Europe after World War 2, trying to reunite with their father who has been in a prisoner of war camp.
Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney. A family in the U.S. sponsor a refugee family from Africa, only to find out that the refugee family is hiding some dangerous secrets.
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. Kek, a refugee from Sudan, comes to Minnesota with his aunt and his cousin, Ganwar. Kek’s family all died in the wars in Sudan, except for his mother who is missing and may also be dead. Kek needs a great deal of bravery to make himself a home in this new place of America. Slowly Kek makes friends with a girl named Hannah who lives in his apartment complex, with some of the other immigrants who are in his ESL class at school, and, best of all, with a cow to whom he gives the name, Gol, family.
Dragonwings by Laurence Yep. In 1903, Moon Shadow, an eight-year- old Chinese boy, sails to America to meet his father, Windrider, for the first time. Moon Shadow knows only stories of America, the land of the Golden Mountain and its inhabitants, the demons. He eventually comes to love and admire his father, the small community of Chinese workers in America, and his new country.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. When Salva’s school is attacked, he must flee, seeking refuge in another country. His long trek is harrowing, but eventually he makes it to Kenya and then he is adopted by a family in the U.S.
The Red Umbrella by Christian Diaz Gonzalez. Lucia and Francisco Alvarez are Cuban children whose parents send them to the United States to escape from Castro’s revolucion.
Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong. A Laotian family is trapped in a refugee camp in Thailand after escaping from the Communist Pathet Lao regime in their native country. The story is based on the true story of the author’s husband and his family.
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai was a good book about an Afghan family emigrating to the U.S. just after 9/11, and the sequel, Saving Kabul Corner, takes the same Afghan immigrant community into the next decade as they learn to combine American culture with the traditions brought over from Afghanistan to make a new place for themselves in San Francisco.
Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The story of three girls: Bella, an immigrant from Southern Italy, Yetta, a Russian Jewish immigrant worker, and Jane, a poor little rich girl who becomes involved in the lives of the shirtwaist factory workers in spite of her rarified existence as a society girl.
What excellent books about refugees and immigrants can you suggest?