Flatiron Books has provided funding for this selection of books about immigrants and immigration. 15-year-old Ana Cancion had no idea she’d be moving to the United States at all. But she has to accept Juan Ruiz’s proposal and his offer to take her to New York City. Even though he is twice her age and they have no feelings for each other, it doesn’t matter. Her close-knit family in the Dominican Republic will be able to immigrate to the United States as a result of their marriage. Ana Ruiz was born in 1965, therefore she left everything behind and became Ana Ruiz at that time. Angie Cruz’s Dominicana tells the story of a young woman’s journey from adolescence to adulthood through the eyes of an immigrant.
Despite being one of the earliest and most well-known stories in human history, it is one that is always developing. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be an immigrant or an immigrant-to-be, here are 16 books that will give you an insider’s view.
The best books about immigration and immigrants
Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
I tell everyone who would listen that this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. A poetic, heartbreaking, and profoundly touching meditation on migration, love, and xenophobia, Exit West is a must-see for anybody interested in these topics. A dangerous period has brought two very different people together in Nadia and Saeed. As they journey from one country to the next in quest of a better life, they must balance leaving a war-torn homeland with caring for their fledgling love. You’ll be exhausted and satisfied after reading this book.
The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America Edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman
The Good Immigrant is a must-read right now because it provides an in-depth look at the current state of immigration in the United States. Authors (including Chigozie Obioma, Alexander Chee and Fatimah Asghar) tell their stories of immigration to the United States in this anthology. Throughout their book, The Good Immigrant authors provide a voice to the many and complex issues that so many people in the United States are dealing with.
Home Fire: A Novel by Kamila Shamsie
When Isma’s mother died, she was left to take over as matriarch of her British Pakistani family. In Home Fire, she does just that. After being offered a chance to leave England, Isma and her siblings must face their father’s turbulent past and the consequences of a new man in their lives as they flee the country. It was a superbly written and completely unexpected novel.
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
Poems have the ability to evoke strong feelings in a reader in a way that prose just cannot. That’s the case with Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora’s own immigration narrative, in which he was 9 years old when he walked alone from Mexico to meet his parents in the United States. Inspiring work by Zamora, and an absolute must-read.
Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin
Since then, his work on a politicized version of his native country in mid-2000s has earned him international fame, but it has caused him to flee and leave behind a family. Having spent her childhood fantasizing about living in America, Iftin found herself confronted with the adult reality of seeking to obtain refuge in the country. Throughout his autobiography, he writes about his own personal experience in the Somali Civil War, as well as his incredible quest to build a new life in the United States.
Things Are Good Now by Djamila Ibrahim
I was at a book fair in South Africa when I ran across this gorgeous book, and I’m so pleased I did.
Things Are Good Now explores the lives of migrant women as they adjust to life in new cities around the world. To reach those lives, individuals must make tremendous sacrifices, and the book examines what remains after they do. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Refuge: A Novel by Dina Nayeri
What if you only saw your father four times in the 20 years since you left Iran? Which of your daily routines would be affected? What would happen if you were apart for a while? As time passes, how would you see your home and your family’s history? Through the tale of one Iranian woman who was brought to the United States as a youngster, Refuge examines these topics.
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
One of the most intriguing modern writers dealing with migration and the dual cultural identity it creates is Viet Thanh Nguyen in my opinion. There are stories in The Refugees that take place in Vietnam and the United States during a two-decade period. Please check out Displaced, a collection of writings by 17 refugees edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen if you enjoy this book.
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
The birth of her kid is where cartoonist and author Thi Bui begins her illustrated biography. Her childhood as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, viewed through the lens of becoming a mother, is the subject of the following essay. As she recalls all of her parents’ efforts to provide for them and their siblings, she ponders the true meaning of what it means to love and be a family.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
An 11-year-old girl named Mia Tang works as a receptionist at the Calivista Inn and Motel, where her parents also house and care for illegal immigrants. Although her mother is concerned about her ability to write in English, she still aspires to be a novelist or short story author one day. For middle-schoolers, Mia’s story chronicles her struggle with her family’s immigration status, as well as her journey toward realizing the ambitions she has for herself.
The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz
Jaime, a young Guatemalan boy, is forced to flee his violent native country and embark on a perilous voyage to the United States in the first of two books by Alexandra Diaz. Jaime’s experience is a microcosm of the daily brutality endured by tens of thousands of immigrants all across the world.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Jude, a young Syrian immigrant, is the protagonist of this middle-grade novel. Jude adjusts to a new school, a new culture, and a new identity in Cincinnati as she adjusts to her new surroundings.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael López
The Day You Begin doesn’t just speak to children of immigrant origins; it also urges children of all backgrounds to embrace themselves, even if they feel like the odd one out. The Day You Begin encourages youngsters to embrace their individuality and celebrate what makes them special, regardless of their appearance, speech, or origin. Also available in English and Spanish, this book is a visual feast for the eyes!
From North to South/Del Norte al Sur by René Laínez, Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
In René Lanez’s heartfelt picture bookFrom North to South, a Mexican American family whose matriarch is deported is featured. When it comes to deportation-related worry and stress, the novel excels at portraying the situation from the perspective of a family with children. For youngsters facing the uncertainty of parental deportation, the book is written in both Spanish and English and might assist open a discourse.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui
This charming picture book, which tells the story of a Vietnamese immigrant’s little boy, is one of my favorites. One day, the father and son set off on a fishing expedition, where the father recalls the story of another pond from his childhood in Vietnam. “A student at my school remarked my dad’s English sounds like a thick, muddy river,” the little boy muses at one point. His English, on the other hand, sounds to me like a light rain.” A Different Pond brilliantly tackles the issues that so many children of immigrants face, focusing on the importance of appreciating the uniqueness of one’s own ancestry and the contrasts between one’s own and one’s parents.
Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago, Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, Translated by Elisa Amado
Using gorgeous, nuanced drawings, Two White Rabbits tells the narrative of a Central American man and his daughter as they make their way to the United States. In order to better understand the plight of those who are fleeing their home countries in search of a better life, this book should be required reading for all children and adults, regardless of immigration status.