Stories about Immigrants Living in America
Applegate, Katherine. Home of the Brave
Kek comes from Africa. In America he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He’s never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter – cold and unkind. In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she’s missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care; an old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means “family” in Kek’s native language. As Kek awaits word of his mother’s fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.
Arato, Rona. Mrs. Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium
Treat yourself to a visit to the wackiest restaurant ever! Ten-year-old Shoshi and her eight-year-old brother, Moshe, arrive in New York in 1898 from Russia with their mother and Snigger, the baby dragon that saved them from an attack by Cossack soldiers. Five years earlier, their father had also come to New York to make his fortune, but no one has heard from him since. With the help of Snigger, they set out to solve the mystery behind their father’s disappearance, helping to free the Lower East Side from the tyrannical rule of gangster Nick the Stick along the way. A tale that blends history and fantasy with a journey of discovery, adventure, and fun!
Burg, Ann. All the Broken Pieces : a novel in verse
Two years after being airlifted out of war-torn Vietnam, Matt Pin is haunted: by bombs that fell like dead crows, by the family — and the terrible secret — he left behind. Now, inside a caring adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events force him to choose between silence and candor, blame and forgiveness, fear and freedom.
Crossan, Sarah. The Weight of Water
Carrying just a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother are immigrating to England from Poland. Kasienka isn’t the happiest girl in the world. At home, her mother is suffering from a broken heart as she searches for Kasienka’s father. And at school, Kasienka is having trouble being the new girl and making friends. The only time she feels comforted is when she’s swimming at the pool. But she can’t quite shake the feeling that she’s sinking. Until a new boy swims into her life, and she learns that there might be more than one way to stay afloat!
Engle, Margarita. Enchanted Air
Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?
Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses
Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”
Giff , Patricia. Wild Girl
Lidie lives in Jales, Brazil, where she’s free to ride, to be a wild girl, and to dream of going to live with her father and older brother, Rafael, in New York City. Finally Lidie is 12—time to leave Brazil for New York. Meanwhile, a filly is born and begins her journey to a new home. Lidie’s father runs a stable at a famous race track, and Rafael is training to be a jockey. As much as they want to make Lidie feel welcome, they still think of her as the little girl they left behind. They don’t even know what a strong rider she is, and that she’s determined to befriend and ride the wild filly her father has just bought: Wild Girl.
Hilton, Marilyn. Full Cicada Moon
It’s 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi’s appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade–no matter how many times she’s told no.
Karwoski, Gail. Quake! : Disaster in San Francisco, 1906
It is before daybreak on April 18, 1906. Jacob Kaufman slips out of the wooden boarding house where he lives with his immigrant father and little sister Rosie, his father’s harsh words still ringing in his ears. Suddenly the ground beneath his feet begins to rumble, buildings collapse and the street splits wide open as Jacob runs to find safety from a devastating earthquake. Fires engulf the city. He returns to find his father and sister… but there is nothing left of the building but a pile of sticks. Jacob and his dog join the throng of other people searching for shelter, food, fresh water…and loved ones who are missing. An Author’s Note at the end carefully separates fact from fiction, giving young readers a glimpse into one of the worst earthquakes in modern history.
Kelly, Erin. The Land of Forgotten Girls
Erin Entrada Kelly, the author of the acclaimed Blackbird Fly, writes with grace, imagination, and deepest heart about family, sisters, and friendship, and about finding and holding on to hope in difficult times. Two sisters from the Philippines, abandoned by their father and living with their stepmother in Louisiana, fight to make their lives better in this remarkable story for readers of Cynthia Kadohata and Rita Williams-Garcia, and for anyone searching for the true meaning of family.
Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out & Back Again
When the Vietnam War has reaches her home at Saigon falls. Ha and her family are forced to flee and they board a ship headed toward America. Ha discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family. A wonderful debut novel, winner of several awards.
Marsden, Carolyn. The Gold-Threaded Dress
In Thailand she was named Oy, but here in America the teachers call her Olivia. Other things are not so easy to change, however. When Oy draws a self-portrait that has brown hair and eyes round as coins, her classmate Frankie makes fun and calls her Chinese. And the popular girl, Liliandra, barely speaks to her, until she learns that Oy has something very special: a Thai dancing dress from her grandmother, shimmering with pink silk and golden threads that make her look like a princess. Will Oy risk shaming her family to win Liliandra’s approval – and be part of the club she has envied from afar? With compassion and rare insight, Carolyn Marsden tells a simple tale about a young girl who searches for acceptance in a complex culture, while learning to treasure all that she is.
Meyer, Susan. Skating with the Statue of Liberty
After escaping the Germans in Nazi-occupied France, Gustave and his family have made it to America at last. But life is not easy in New York. Gustave’s clothes are all wrong, he can barely speak English, and he is worried about his best friend, Marcel, who is in danger back in France. Then there is September Rose, the most interesting girl in school, who doesn’t seem to want to be friends with him. Gustave is starting to notice that not everyone in America is treated equally, and his new country isn’t everything he’d expected. But he isn’t giving up.
Mobley, Jeannie. Katerina’s Wish
Katerina has a dream. It’s her papa’s dream, too. Her family came to America to buy their own farm. But a year later, Papa is still working in the dangerous coal mine. Each day, the farm seems farther away. Then Katerina is reminded of the carp that granted three wishes in an old folktale. When her younger sisters hear the story, they immediately make wishes. Trina doesn’t believe in such silliness—but what is she to think when her sisters’ wishes come true? A farm is still too big to wish for. But, with the help of the neighbor’s handsome son, Trina starts building her dream with hard work and good sense. Then tragedy strikes, and it seems that nothing Trina wishes for will ever come true again.
Sharenow, Robert. The Girl in the Torch
After her father is killed in a pogrom, twelve-year-old Sarah and her mother immigrate to America–but when her mother dies before they get through Ellis Island, and the authorities want to send her back to the old country, Sarah hides in the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
Booklist prepared by Hope K.