Children’s books about immigration

In recognition of Family Literacy Day, coming up January 27, 2008, here is a list of children’s picture and chapter books about immigration. Some of these titles came from the Children’s Literature listserv, Child_Lit.

I do not know all of the titles but I thought a list might be useful to those of us with an interest in children’s literature and immigration. If you know these books, or are aware of links to the authors or reviews or anything else that might be interesting/useful for blog readers, please let me know.

Alvarez, Julia. (1991). How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

Ashley, Bernard. (1991). Little Soldier.

Blohom, Judith & Terri Lapinsky. (2006). Kids Like Me: Voices of the Immigrant Experience.

Bloom, Valerie. (2004). Surprising Joy.

Brown, Jackie. (2004). Little Cricket.

Campling, Annie. (1998). Smiling for Strangers.

Cheng, Andrea. (2004). Honeysuckle House.

Ellis, Sarah. (2001). A Prairie as Wide as the Sea: The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall.

Ernest, Kate Elizabeth. (1994). Hope Leaves Jamaica.

Evans, Alwyn. (2004). Walk in My Shoes.

Fleming, Candace. (2008). Lowji Discovers America.

French, Jackie. (2001). How the Finnegans Saved the Ship.

Hawke, Rosanne. (2004). Soraya the Storyteller.

Hodge, Deborah and John Mantha. The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration.

Hearn, Emily and Marywinn Milne. (2007). Our New Home: Immigrant Children Speak.

Kidd, Diana. (1991). Illustrated by Lucy Montgomery.

Kurtz, Jane. (2000). Faraway Home.

Kurtz, Jane. (2005). In the Small, Small Night.

Lasky, Kathryn. (1999). Dreams in the Golden Country: The Diary of Zipporah Feldman, a Jewish Immigrant Girl, New York City 1903.

Matas, Carol. (2002). Footsteps in the Snow: The Red River Diary of Isobel Scott.

Munsch, Robert. (1995). From Far Away.

Munoz Ryan, Pam. (2001). Esperanza Rising.

Naidoo, Beverley. (2000). The Other Side of Truth.

Orr, Wendy. (1995). Yasou Nikki.

Pak, Soyung. (1990). Dear Juno.

Park, Frances and Ginger Park. (2005). Goodbye 382 Shin Dang Dong.

Reich, Jose. Illustrated by Raul Colon. Born to Dance: The True Story of Jose Limon.

Say, Allen. (1993). Grandfather’s Journey.

Say, Allen. (2002). Home of the Brave.

Sheth, Kashmira. (2003). Blue Jasmine.

So, John. (2003). Finding my Hat.

Starke, Ruth. (2005). Orphans of the Queen.

Testa, Maria. (2005). Something About America.

Wolf, Bernard. Coming to America:A Muslim Family’s Story.

Yoo, David. (2005). Girls for Breakfast.

Wilkes, Sybella. (1994). One Day We Had To Run: Refugee Children Tell Their Stories in Words and Paintings.

L1 has been launched by Dr. Roma Chumak-Horbatsch, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Ryerson University.

The site provides research-based information about the importance of maintaining and protecting the many minority languages of young children spoken in homes across Canada.

The goal of is to help parents, teachers, early childhood educators and other children’s services practitioners understand the personal, social, linguistic and academic reasons for maintaining and protecting home languages (L1).


The Arrival – a picture book about immigration

In The Arrival, author/illustrator Shaun Tan “tells” the story (without words) of an immigrant in a new land. Tan’s description:

“The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope”.

It is both a book for children and a book for adults. It is beautiful, compelling and a must-see. Tan has won several children’s literature awards for this work. See Shaun Tan’s website for more on The Arrival, including some of the illustrations.

Globe article about literacy & numeracy programs for immigrant and refugee children

See the December 6, 2007 Globe and Mail article “Leaping over educational adversity: Young immigrants and refugees with little or no formal schooling are thriving in Toronto’s intensive literacy and numeracy program”. An excerpt:

” As more children with non-existent or interrupted educations resettle in Canada, school boards are increasingly struggling to cope with the unique challenges of schooling the un-schooled. …

“A 2006 report by the Canadian School Boards Association called for the federal government to fund more programs to help refugee and immigrant children adjust to the school system, more provincial dollars and better training for teachers”.