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Top Books About Immigration for Preschoolers to Tweens

Because they're hearing the word but might not understand why

Published on: June 20, 2018

Family reading

Captivating stories of the immigrant and refugee experience can help kids understand what people go through when they move to a new country and start new lives.

These novels and memoirs can help build empathy among readers, and kids from immigrant families can see reflections of their own struggles and triumphs. 

Looking for more resources?

The director of Latino content and outreach at Common Sense Media shares her advice about discussing the news of family separations at the border.

Preschoolers (ages 2–4)

"Mamá the Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre"

A fun, bilingual take on being a documented immigrant

"Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter"

Poetic call to be proud of your heritage in a diverse world

Little kids (ages 5–7)

"This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From"

Fun look at immigration celebrates bringing items from home

"Where Will I Live?"

Moving book about child refugees brought to life by photos

"A Different Pond"

Exquisitely tender family story of Vietnamese refugees

"Ruby Lu" series

Spirited Ruby faces changing family, friends in fun series

Big kids (ages 8–9)


Complex adventure mixes immigration issues, space travel

"Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain"

Historic immigration station comes alive in photos, poems

"The Arrival"

Wordless immigrant story is a visual masterpiece

"A Faraway Island"

Moving story of Jewish sisters living as refugees in Sweden

"The Girl in the Torch"

Immigrant girl braves early 1900s NYC in tale of resilience

"The Only Road"

Harrowing, heartfelt tale of Central American teen refugees

Tweens (ages 10–12)

"A Crack in the Sea"

Unusual mix of history and fantasy makes an engrossing read

"Esperanza Rising"

Historical fiction at its best in story of '30s farmworkers

"Inside Out and Back Again"

Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse

"It Ain't So Awful, Falafel"

Relatable story of Iranian girl in U.S. who wants to fit in.


Harrowing page-turner sheds light on child refugees

"Return to Sender"

Intense story about illegal immigration and friendship

"Shooting Kabul"

Life and 9/11 through lens of 11-year-old Afghan immigrant

"Theodore Boone: The Fugitive"

Suspenseful installment explores death penalty, immigration

"The Weight of Water"

Moving free-verse tale of immigrant girl's new life in United Kingdom

"A Long Walk to Water"

Touching take on Lost Boys of Sudan, based on true story

"Jumping Off to Freedom"

Harrowing journey of family fleeing Cuba on a raft

"The Red Pencil"

Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide

"Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings"

Poignant memoir-in-verse recalls Cuban-American's childhood

"Like No Other"

Cross-cultural teen love story is heartfelt, enlightening

"The Maldonado Miracle"

Gripping story of Mexican boy who migrates to U.S. alone

"My Antonia"

Writing shines in pioneer saga of friendship and struggle

"Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina"

Ballerina's frank, inspiring tale of perseverance and hope

This story originally published on Common Sense Media.

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