First Generation profiles thirty six immigrants to the United States who have made notable contributions to sports, science, politics, and the arts, including Madeleine Albright, Albert Einstein, John Muir, Martina Navratilova, and Carlos Santana. You can read more of these stories at:
- IndyPL Kids’ Blog: Their Great Gift, the Immigrant Experimence
- IndyPL Kids’ Blog: Refugees, Their Stories
Listed below are some favorite books that will give you a chance to walk in the shoes of someone coming to America from somewhere new. You will meet some good friends in these stories. They are so strong and brave! Many of the stories are based on real people, often the author or relative of the author.
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Anna and Solomon – Based on the story of the author’s grandparents’ migration to the United States from late-nineteenth-century Russia, shares how Solomon moved to the U.S. first, where he worked to save money for Anna to join him.
Cora Cooks Pancit – When all her older siblings are away, Cora’s mother finally lets her help make pancit, a Filipino noodle dish. Includes recipe for pancit.
The Day of the Pelican – In 1998 when the Kosovo hostilities escalate, thirteen-year-old Meli’s life as an ethnic Albanian, changes forever after her brother escapes his Serbian captors and the entire family flees from one refugee camp to another until they are able to immigrate to America.
Drita My Homegirl – When ten-year-old Drita and her family, refugees from Kosovo, move to New York, Drita is teased about not speaking English well, but after a popular student named Maxine is forced to learn about Kosovo as a punishment for teasing Drita, the two girls soon bond.
Esperanza Rising – Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression. Disponible en español: Esperanza Renace, Pura Belpré medal winner for narrative, 2002.
Four Feet Two Sandals – Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals brought by relief workers.
Going Home – Although a Mexican family comes to the United States to work as farm laborers so that their children will have opportunities, the parents still consider Mexico their home.
Grandfather’s Journey – A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather’s journey to America which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries. Caldecott Medal Winner, 1994.
Heart of a Samurai – In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2013-2014, 4-6 Nominee.
Home of the Brave – Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2009-2010, 6-8 Nominee.
I’m New Here – Three children from other countries (Somalia, Guatemala, and Korea) struggle to adjust to their new home and school in the United States.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson – In 1947, a Chinese child comes to Brooklyn where she becomes Americanized at school, in her apartment building, and by her love for baseball.
Kiki and Jacques – Eleven-year-old Jacques, who must contend with difficult family dynamics and pressure from an older boy to help him commit a crime, is surprised to discover that he has much in common with Kiki, one of the many new Somali refugees who have immigrated to his Maine town.
It’s Ain’t So Awful Falafel – Eleven-year-old Zomorod, originally from Iran, tells her story of growing up Iranian in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis of the late 1970s.
Just Like Me – In this story about unlikely friendships and finding your place in the world, three very different girls, adopted as babies from the same Chinese orphanage, spend a week at a summer camp, where the adoption agency coordinator wants them to journal their “bonding” experience.
The Keeping Quilt – A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith.
Kira Kira – Chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters growing up in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill. Newbery Medal Winner, 2005.
The Land of Forgotten Girls – Abandoned by their father and living in poverty with their heartless stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines, twelve-year-old Sol and six-year-old Ming, learn the true meaning of family.
Landed – After leaving his village in southeastern China, twelve-year-old Sun is held at Angel Island, San Francisco, before being released to join his father, a merchant living in the area. Includes historical notes.
A Long Walk to Water – When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 6-8 Nominee.
Mariama Different But Just the Same – Everything’s new for Mariama after a long journey by car, train, boat, and plane from Africa. She’s going to discover a world where the streets, her school, and the food are all different. But what about the people? Disponible en español: Mariama: Diferente Pero Igual
The Matchbox Diary – An elderly man shares his story of coming to America with his great granddaughter. Since he did not know how to read or write when he was younger, he created a diary by keeping items inside matchboxes. Together, they open each one like you would a book and learn about where the man came from and his new life in the United States. Disponible en español: El Diario de las Cajas de Fósforos
Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel Miss – Bridie emigrates to America in 1856 and chooses to bring a shovel, which proves to be a useful tool throughout her life. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2007-2008, K-3 Nominee.
Molly’s Pilgrim – Told to make a Pilgrim doll for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly is embarrassed when her mother tries to help her out by creating a doll dressed as she herself was dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom.
90 Miles to Havana – When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian’s parents must make the heartbreaking decision tosend him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it’s not always clear how best to protect themselves.
A Piece of Home – A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over in a new place while keeping family and traditions close.
The Red Pencil – After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder.
Return to Sender – After his family hires migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure, eleven-year-old Tyler befriends the oldest daughter, but when he discovers they may not be in the country legally, he realizes that real friendship knows no borders. Pura Belpré Award for narrative, 2010. Disponible en español: Devolver al Remitente
Save Me a Seat – Ravi has just moved to the United States from India and has always been at the top of his class; Joe has lived in the same town his whole life and has learning problems–but when their lives intersect in the first week of fifth grade they are brought together by a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and the need to take control of their lives.
Serafina’s Promise – In a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Serafina works hard to help her family, but dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor–then the earthquake hits and Serafina must summon all her courage to find her father and still get medicine for her sick baby brother as she promised. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2016-2017, 4-6 Nominee.
Shooting Kabul – Escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, eleven-year-old Fadi and his family immigrate to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fadi schemes to return to the Pakistani refugee camp where his little sister was accidentally left behind.
Somewhere Among – Eleven-year-old Emma’s life in Tokyo changes for the worse when she and her American mother, who is pregnant, must move in with her Japanese grandmother the summer before 9/11 changes the world.
The Turtle of Oman – When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Siddi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.Print This Post