CurriConnects Book List - Immigrants and Immigration

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Immigrants and Immigration
Discover fiction about life as an immigrant in America. Use this list as you study any of several time periods when the U.S. experienced waves of immigrants or for literature circles about multiculturalism and the immigrant experience in the U.S.

Preschool and Picture Books

The Castle on Hester Street - Linda Heller, (978-0689874345) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 520, ESL level: 2
Julie enjoys her grandfather's tales about their journey from Russia to New York City, but she also enjoys her grandmother's contradictory reactions to her husband's wild tales.

In the Small, Small Night - Jane Kurtz, (978-0066238142) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-12, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 2 - 3
Older sister Abena helps Kofi sleep by sharing with him two stories from their native Ghana after they move to the U.S.

Let's Go See Papa - Lawrence Schimel, (978-1554981069) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 3
A little girl likes the idea of joining her father in the U.S. where he is working, but hesitates to leave behind her grandmother, friends and dog.

Migrant - Maxine Trottier, (978-0888999757) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 880, ESL level: 3 - 4
Anna comes north with her Mennonite family from Mexico to the U.S., always on the move, although Anna longs to have a home in just one place.

A Picnic in October - Eve Bunting, (978-0152050658) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 310, ESL level: 2 - 3
A young boy comes with his family each year to Ellis Island to observe the 4th of July and the birthday of the Statue of Liberty.

Yuvi's Candy Tree - Lesley Simpson, (978-0761356523) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 360, ESL level: 3 - 4
Yuvi looks forward to having more food than in war-starved Ethiopia when her family escapes to Israel.

Early Elementary Books

Brothers - Yin, (399-234063) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-5, Lexile: 580, ESL level: 3
Chinese-American Ming feels alone until he makes friends with another newcomer, an Irish immigrant.

The Butter Man - Elizabeth Alalou, (158-0891276) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 930, ESL level: 3 - 4
Nora's father's weekly couscous preparation is a good time for storytelling about their native land, Morocco.

Carmen Learns English - Judy Cox, (978-0823423828) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 2 - 3
Carmen fears starting at her new school since she does not speak English, having recently emigrated from Mexico.

Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York! - Edie Colon, (978-1442406742) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 690, ESL level: 2 - 3
Gabriella moves with her family from Cuba to New York City after Castro comes into power in Cuba.

Grandfather's Journey - Allen Say, (978-0547076805) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 2 - 3
A boy's grandfather wants to be a good American and he loves everything in the U.S., but he also loves his first country, Japan.

The Have a Good Day CafŽ - Frances Park, (978-1600603587) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3
After coming from Korea, Mike's grandmother has a few ideas to help the family's food cart business be more successful.

The Long Way Westward - Joan Sandin, (978-0064441988) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-5, Lexile: 320, ESL level: 2
Two brothers travel together with their family from Sweden to Minnesota to make a new home in the U.S.

Maggie's Amerikay - Barbara Timberlake Russell, (374-347220) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-5, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3 - 4
Maggie's take on her new country and her place of living, New Orleans, differ from those of her parents who see the U.S. as a place to have a home of their own and provide her with an education.

Milly and the Macy's Parade - Shana Corey, (978-0439297554) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 420, ESL level: 2
Part fiction but based on a true tale, this book describe how a young girl influences Macy's to start the Thanksgiving Day Parade to help ease immigrants' homesickness.

My Name is Sangoel - Karen Lynn Williams, (978-0802853073) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 440, ESL level: 2 - 3
Sangoel finds a creative way to teach Americans how to pronounce his Sudanese name after he comes to live in the U.S.

My Name is Yoon - Helen Recorvits, (978-0374351144) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 320, ESL level: 2 - 3
Yoon tries to think of a new, English name for herself after she starts school in the U.S. and wants to be more like the other children in her new class.

My Shoes and I - Rene Colato Lainez, (978-1590783856) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 330, ESL level: 2
Mario comforts himself with his new shoes as he travels with his father to join his mother, already in the U.S.

Silent Movie - NA Avi, (978-0689841453) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-6, ESL level: 2 - 3
A Swedish emigrant family's son takes part in a silent movie in a book; this helps to ease the pain of separation from their home families.

Sparrow Jack - Mordicai Gerstein, (978-0374371395) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3
Based on the life of John Bardsley, this historical fiction book describes how John tried to save Philadelphia's trees by importing sparrows from his native country of England.

When This World Was New - D.H. Figueredo, (978-1584301738) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 440, ESL level: 2 - 3
A boy's delight in his first snow in New York City helps him overcome fears about moving from the Caribbean to the U.S.

Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Adeline's Dream - Linda Aksomitis, (978-1550503234) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, ESL level: 4
Adeline, a recent transplant from Germany, finds many new things in Saskatchewan to adjust to including living in a sod house, the strange tornadoes, prejudice, and the free libraries.

After Peaches - Michelle Mulder, (978-1554691760) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-5, Lexile: 990, ESL level: 4
Rosario does not want to use her newly learned English until another migrant worker needs a translator in the hospital.

Boy - Roald Dahl, (978-0142413814) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 1090, ESL level: 4
Roald Dahl's autobiography of his immigrant childhood includes tales from his time at a British boarding school and his vacations back to Norway.

Bread and Roses, Too - Katherine Paterson, (978-0547076515) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 810, ESL level: 3 - 4
This fictionalized account of the Bread and Roses Strike in 1912, viewed from the eyes of two preteen children, displays the themes of ethnic violence, unfair labor practices, and the difficulties of working in the garment industry.

The Brooklyn Nine - Alan Gratz, (978-0142415443) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-10, Lexile: 840, ESL level: 3 - 4
This book looks at many generations of a German family from the point of view of their accomplishments in baseball and at adjusting to life in the U.S.

Cuba 15 - Nancy Osa, (978-0385732338) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 750, ESL level: 3 - 4
Violet has enough humorous detachment from her grandmother's year-long preparation for her traditional 15-year birthday celebration, (the quinceanera) to use it as the subject of her upcoming speech, while at the same time, she is learning more about her Cuban heritage.

A Difficult Boy - M.P. Barker, (978-0823422449) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 760, ESL level: 3 - 4
A young boy who is an indentured servant in a wealthy American family befriends another boy who is Irish and together, they try to figure out how to deal with their harsh master.

Drita, My Homegirl - Jenny Lombard, (978-0756989194) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-12, Lexile: 690, ESL level: 3 - 4
Drita's adjustment to school in the U.S. is eased when a classmate has to learn about Kosovo, Drita's home.

The Four Immigrants Manga - Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama, (978-1880656334) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 540, ESL level: 3
The author details his experiences moving to California from Japan in great visual form.

The Gnome's Eye - Anna Kerz, (978-1554691951) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 3 - 4
Theresa finds her adjustment to her new school in Canada eased when she uses a stone as a protective amulet.

The Great Wheel - Robert Lawson, (978-0802777058) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-10, Lexile: 990, ESL level: 4 - 5
After Conn emigrates from Ireland to the U.S., he gets involved in the construction of a ferris wheel for the great Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Honeysuckle House - Andrea Cheng, (978-1590786321) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 600, ESL level: 3
A recent Chinese immigrant meets a classmate with a Chinese background but cannot speak Chinese, and gradually, they become friends.

Ice Cream Town - Rona Arato, (978-1550415919) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 3 - 4
Sammy, a recent immigrant from Poland, must quick adjust to the dangerous New York City streets with its street gangs to survive in his new home.

The King of Mulberry Street - Donna Jo Napoli, (978-0553494167) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-9, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 3
Dom arrives illegally in New York City aboard an ocean liner from Italy, and must quickly learn coping skills to survive, despite his young age.

Kira-Kira - Cynthia Kadohata, (978-0689856402) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-9, Lexile: 740, ESL level: 4
When Katie's sister Lynn becomes ill, she must try to hold her Japanese family together despite their recent move to the American South away from the Japanese community where they found solace in Iowa.

Landed - Milly Lee, (978-0374343149) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-12, Lexile: 790, ESL level: 3 - 4
Sun is unable to get to his father since he is being held at the Angel Island Immigration Station near San Francisco after having traveled all the way from China.

Learning to Fly - Paul Yee, (978-1551439532) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-10, Lexile: 540, ESL level: 2 - 3
Jason's experience with racism against himself as a Chinese immigrant lead to some bad behavior on his part.

La Linea - Ann Jaramillo, (978-0312373542) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 3
Miguel and his sister attempt to cross over the U.S. border illegally to join their parents, but perils along the way coupled with his sister's defensive resolve add additional challenges to their trip.

Lost in America - Marilyn Sachs, (159-6430400) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3
After losing her parents and other family in a WWII concentration camp, Nicole makes her way to the U.S. from France to try and find a new life.

Lowji Discovers America - Candace Fleming, (978-1416958321) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-5, Lexile: 510, ESL level: 3
Lowji's idea of having pets help out with small jobs persuades his landlord to let him take in some animals; the animals attract friends for Lowji who has recently emigrated from India.

Maggie's Door - Patricia Reilly Giff, (978-0440415817) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-8, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3 - 4
Neighbors and friends Nory and Sean travel separately to America after fleeing Ireland's starvation.

The Orphan of Ellis Island - Elvira Woodruff, (978-0590482462) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, Lexile: 810, ESL level: 4
Dominick visits Ellis island with his school class and from there time travels back to Italy at the beginning of the 20th century to follow some emigrants' voyages to the U.S.

The Quail Club - Carolyn Marsden, (076362635X) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3-4
Oy's plan to do a Thai dance at her school's talent show meets a challenge by Liliandra who wants her to be a member of the American play instead.

Rebecca and Ana - Jacqueline Greene, (978-1593695224) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3 - 4
Ana's adjustment in New York City becomes easier when her cousin, already living in the U.S. from Russia, teaches her the ways of American schools.

Star in the Forest - Laura Resau, (978-0385737920) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3 - 4
Zitlally's new friend is a lost dog that she finds in a trailer camp after her father is deported back to Mexico.

Tea with Milk - Allen Say, (978-0547237473) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-8, Lexile: 450, ESL level: 3
A Japanese girl who has grown up in the U.S. returns to Japan to live in her native, but now strange, country.

Torchlight - Carol Otis Hurst, (978-0618276011) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 3 - 4
Charlotte's friendship with a recent immigrant helps her understand the nature of prejudice in her Massachusetts home town.

Middle School to Young Adult Books

A Step from Heaven - An Na, (978-0142500279) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, ESL level: 4
Ju's expectation that coming from Korea to the U.S. will be like entering heaven becomes more realistic when she and her family face adjustment problems and miss their home country.

American Born Chinese - Gene Luen, (978-0312384487) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 530, ESL level: 4
Jin's plans to be an All American success in school do not include embracing other new Taiwanese immigrants or even his cousin's visit while the Monkey King aspires a heavenly reward; see how these stories fit together in this graphic novel.

Ashes of Roses - Mary Jane Auch, (978-0440238515) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 670, ESL level: 3 - 4
After her family returns to Ireland due to lack of work, Margaret gets a job in a factory in New York shortly before many employees die in a historical fire.

Ask Me No Questions - Marina Budhos, (978-1416949206) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-10, Lexile: 790, ESL level: 4
A Bangladeshi Muslim family loses their immigration status when their visas expire and the world targets all Muslims as a result of the 9-11 tragedy; their lives in America become full of terror and frustration.

Behind the Mountains - Edwidge Danticat, (978-0439373005) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 940, ESL level: 4 - 5
This book in diary format details Celiane's previous life in Haiti along with her move to the U.S. Brooklyn-based branch of her family.

Born Confused - Tanuja Desai Hidier, (978-0439510110) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 890, ESL level: 4
Indian-born Dimple finds her looks are not attractive either to Indians or Americans, and she discovers the hard way how back-biting best friends can be.

The Braid - Helen Frost, (978-0374309626) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3 - 4
A Scottish family becomes separated when part of it is forced to emigrate to Canada and the other part stays back on their Scottish island home.

Brooklyn Bridge - Karen Hesse, (312-378866) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3 - 4
After emigrating from Russia, Joseph's life in his new home in Brooklyn becomes cramped when his parents must use their home to produce the teddy bears they have invented.

Cursing Columbus - Eve Tal, (978-1933693590) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-10, Lexile: 500, ESL level: 3 - 4
Raizel tries to adjust to being a Ukrainian immigrant by working hard in the U.S, but her brother gets involved in a violent gang.

Double Crossing - Eve Tal, (193-3693150) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-10, Lexile: 590, ESL level: 3
Raizel flees to the U.S. with her father to escape prejudice against the Jewish people, but finds her father's Orthodoxy and his health issues create a different set of problems.

Escaping the Tiger - Laura Manivong, (616-61775) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 750, ESL level: 3 - 4
Laotian born Vonlai and his family endure the indignities and dangers of a Thai refugee camp after being forced from their home.

First Crossing: Stories about Teen Immigrants - Donald Gallo, (978-0763632915) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 820, ESL level: 4
This anthology is a collection of immigration stories of teens from Mexico, Venezuela,, Kazakhistan, China, Romania, Palestine, Sweden, Korea, Haiti, and Cambodia.

Heat - Mike Lupica, (978-0142407578) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 940, ESL level: 4 - 5
Michael wants to play baseball after fleeing Cuba, but his lack of official papers cause problems with his coach and with social workers.

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair, (978-0486419237) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 1170, ESL level: 4-5
When a Lithuanian immigrant begins work in Chicago, his dreams of great American life take a battering when he experiences the conditions working in the stockyards.

Land of Hope - Joan Lowery Nixon, (978-0440215974) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 880, ESL level: 4
Rebekah's dream of going to the school after she arrives in the U.S. has to be set aside while she works in a sweatshop and has no energy for anything else.

Red Midnight - Ben Mikaelsen, (978-0380805617) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 690, ESL level: 3 - 4
Pre-teen Santiago and his very young sister must flee Guatemala in a kayak in an effort to reach the U.S. after their parents die at the hands of the rebel soldiers.

Shutting Out the Sky - Deborah Hopkinson, (978-0439375900) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-12, Lexile: 990, ESL level: 4 - 5
This anthology documents the lives of five immigrants from different European countries in words and photos.

A Step from Heaven - An Na, (978-0142500279) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 670, ESL level: 3 - 4
A Korean family finds learning English and life in the U.S. difficult after moving from their home country.

Voss - David Ives, (978-0399247224) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 590, ESL level: 3 - 4
Voss' letters home reveal his adventures arriving in the U.S. in an illegal crate, job searching, and thwarting an organ-selling plot.

Web of Lies - Beverley Naidoo, (978-0141314662) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 4
Femi's involvement with a gang results in danger to his family after they emigrate to England.

Wild Geese - Caroline Pignat, (978-0889954328) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 660, ESL level: 3 - 4
Kathleen's difficulties voyaging on a coffin ship disguised as a boy compound after she arrives in the U.S. with no job or money, and old and new enemies.

Books for Mature Teens and Adults

The Arrival - Shaun Tan, (978-0439895293) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, ESL level: 2-5
The pages of this graphic novel describe the journey of a nameless man who departs from his first country and immigrates to a new place.

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears - Dinaw Mengstu, (159-4482853) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level: 4 - 5
A long-time immigrant compares the life he thought he would have after emigrating to the U.S. and the way things turned out.

Feeding Ground - Swifty Lang, (978-1936393022) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level:
Diego attempts to cross into the U.S. with a "coyote"" guide who leads him across the blistering desert."

Fresh off the Boat - Melissa De la Cruz, (605-45429) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 840, ESL level: 4
Vicenza finds it difficult to find her place at a San Francisco private school after arriving in California from the Philippines.

Gold Mountain Blues - Ling Zhang, (978-0670065134) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level: 4 - 5
The lives of five generations of Chinese immigrants from Guandong show how they search for a better life in Canada.

Hawaii - James Michener, (978-0375760372) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level: 4 - 5
This epic saga portrays life in Hawaii throughout the history of the resettlement of many Asians and the arrival of Christian missionaries.

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits - Laila Lalami, (978-0156030878) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, Lexile: 870, ESL level: 5
Four Moroccans with very different stories attempt to cross into Spain to find better lives, but encounter unknown dangers and disappointments.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez, (978-1565129757) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, Lexile: 950, ESL level: 5
Four immigrant sisters learn to adjust to life in the U.S. in different ways in this series of loosely related stories.

Maggie Now - Betty Smith, (978-0062120205) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, ESL level:
An Irish immigrant in Brooklyn struggles to find beauty and meaning in her new life in the U.S.

The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri, (978-0618485222) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, Lexile: 1210, ESL level: 5
The Gangulis find their emigration from India to the U.S. fraught with difficulties as they try to learn a new set of cultural beliefs.

O Pioneers! - Willa Cather, (978-0486277851) , Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 930, ESL level: 4 - 5
Alexandra takes over the farm after her immigrant father dies; her lifelong struggle to conquer the fields of Nebraska is a classic.

The Road Home - Rose Tremain, (316-002623) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level: 5
An Eastern European immigrant settles in London and works at a restaurant.

Shanghai Girls - Lisa See, (978-0812980530) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level:
Two Chinese sisters arrive in the U.S. blindly bethrothed to California men and find prejudice and new customs difficult to adjust to.

Star of the Sea - Joseph O'Connor, (978-0156029667) , Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 850, ESL level: 4 - 5
The voyage of Irish immigrants becomes complicated when they find a killer is in their midst.

The Tree Bride - Bharati Mukherjee, (978-0786888665) , Fiction
Interest level: 10-12, ESL level:
An Indian immigrant retells the story of her ancestor who married a tree rather than be subject to the family's marrriage choices; the free woman became a revolutionary leader.