Anti-Racism Story Time Team: Books About New Americans

July 30, 2021 | By Baltimore County Public Library

Every day, people all around the world make the difficult decision to leave their countries and immigrate to America. Some people, known as refugees, are forced to flee their home countries due to wars, violence and persecution. Others, known as immigrants, make the conscious decision to leave their home country in search of better economic opportunities and experiences. Immigrants and refugees make up a significant amount of America’s population, and therefore directly impact its society.  

The Anti-Racism Story Time team would like to share some picture book recommendations that illustrate the diverse experiences, culture and contributions of immigrants and refugees to American society and discuss ways in which we can all create more inclusive and welcoming environments for these populations.  

Remember to join us for our Anti-Racism Story Times on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month at 10 a.m. 


"Dreamers" by Yuyi Morales  
In this vibrant picture book, Yuyi Morales illustrates the story of her own immigration to the United States from Xalapa, Mexico, with her infant son. Yuyi details her own hopes, dreams and aspirations in a story that resonates with many audiences.  

"Home Is In Between" by Mitali Perkins 
When Shanti and her family move away from the warm climate of their home in India to America, she discovers a brand-new world and culture that is very different from what she has known. Though her family’s apartment feels like the home she knows, with her Mama’s cooking and her Baba’s storytelling, the outside world still feels very foreign and Shanti struggles to merge experiences and create a home in between.  

"Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children" by Hollis Kurman 
Arriving in new communities can be very stressful experiences for many immigrants and refugees, particularly for children who make up more than half of that population. This is a sweet picture book that shares different ways communities can create welcoming and inclusive homes for refugee and immigrant children.  

"The Wall: A Timeless Tale" by Giancarlo Macrì 
In this vivid picture book, Giancarlo Macrì tells the story of a king who initially banishes anyone who looks different than him and builds a wall to keep them out, but soon realizes that without the various talents and expertise of those he banished, his kingdom can no longer flourish. This thoughtful book highlights the important relationship between themes of immigration and diversity. 

"A Different Pond" by Bao Phi 
This 2018 Caldecott Honor Book tells the unforgettable story of a father and son fishing trip, and what meaning the simple bonding event holds even in drastically different cultures. Unlike others, when Bao and his father go fishing in their small pond in Minneapolis, they fish for food and not for recreation. As they fish on this fateful morning, Bao's father tells him about a different pond he used to fish in back in their homeland of Vietnam.  

"What Is a Refugee?" by Elise Gravel 
This nonfiction picture book is aimed at helping younger readers understand the term “refugee.” Who are refugees? Why are they called that word? Why do they need to leave their country? Why are they sometimes not welcome in their new country? This book serves as an excellent introduction for kids to such an important topic. 

"Watch Me: A Story of Immigration and Inspiration" by Doyin Richards 
In this inspirational picture book, author Doyin Richards shares the plight of many first-generation immigrants through the story of a young boy named Joe who immigrates to America from Sierra Leone in pursuit of his dreams. Retelling his own father’s immigration story, Richards challenges other immigrant children to continue pursuing their dreams even when faced with doubt and adversity.

"Islandborn" by Junot Díaz 
When her teacher asks students to illustrate where their families are from, the assignment poses a problem for a young Lola. She cannot remember the island she and her family are from—they left when she was just a baby. With the help of her family and friends, Lola sets out to reimagine the island, and she comes to understand that just because you can’t remember a place doesn’t mean it isn’t in you.

"The Name Jar" by Yangsook Choi 
Having just recently moved from Korea to America, Unhei is anxious that none of the kids in class will be able to pronounce her name. She decides to choose a new name out of a glass jar of names her classmates have suggested for her. When the glass jar disappears right before it’s time for Unhei to pick a name, however, she must decide whether to continue with a new name or to help her classmates pronounce her name.  

"We Came to America" by Faith Ringgold 
This nonfiction book illustrates the rich history of immigration and diversity in the United States. From the Native Americans who first called America home, to the millions of people who have immigrated since driven by their own hopes and dreams, this book discusses how each person's gifts and culture have shaped the landscape of America as we know it.   

Category: Collection and Materials