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Immigrant Stories

Last Updated: October 3, 2023

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Efrén Divided
by Ernesto Cisneros

Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved. But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México. Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again
by Thanhha Lai

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block…for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even puka shell necklaces, pool parties, and flying fish can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Land of Forgotten Girls
by Erin Entrada Kelly

Soledad has always been able to escape into the stories she creates. Just like her mother always could. And Soledad has needed that escape more than ever in the five years since her mother and sister died, and her father moved Sol and her youngest sister from the Philippines to Louisiana. After her father leaves, all Sol and Ming have is their evil stepmother, Vea. Sol has protected Ming all this time, but then Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove—their mythical, world-traveling aunt—is really going to come rescue them. Can Sol protect Ming from this impossible hope?

Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Land of the Cranes
by Aida Salazar

Nine-year-old Betita and her parents fled Mexico after her uncle was killed by the cartels, and settled in Los Angeles seeking political asylum and safety in what her father calls Aztlan, the land of the cranes; but now they have been swept up by by the government’s Immigration Customs Enforcement, her father deported back to Mexico, and Betita and her mother confined in a family detention camp–Betita finds heart in her imagination and the picture poems her father taught her, but each day threatens to further tear her family apart.

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh

Nowhere Boy
by Katherine Marsh

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed, a Syrian refugee, and thirteen-year-old Max, an American boy, are bound by a secret that sets them on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

The Only Road
by Alexandra Diaz

Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous journey from his home in Guatemala to his older brother in New Mexico after his cousin is murdered by a drug cartel.

Other Words for Home by Jasime Warga

Other Words for Home
by Jasime Warga

Sent with her mother to the safety of a relative’s home in Cincinnati when her Syrian hometown is overshadowed by violence, Jude worries for the family members who were left behind as she adjusts to a new life with unexpected surprises.

A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata

A Place to Belong
by Cynthia Kadohata

World War II has ended, but while America has won the war, twelve-year-old Hanako feels lost. To her, the world, and her world, seems irrevocably broken. America, the only home she’s ever known, imprisoned then rejected her and her family—and thousands of other innocent Americans—because of their Japanese heritage, because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japan, the country they’ve been forced to move to, the country they hope will be the family’s saving grace, where they were supposed to start new and better lives, is in shambles because America dropped bombs of their own—one on Hiroshima unlike any other in history. And Hanako’s grandparents live in a small village just outside the ravaged city. The country is starving, the black markets run rampant, and countless orphans beg for food on the streets, but how can Hanako help them when there is not even enough food for her own brother? Hanako feels she could crack under the pressure, but just because something is broken doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Cracks can make room for gold, her grandfather explains when he tells her about the tradition of kintsukuroi—fixing broken objects with gold lacquer, making them stronger and more beautiful than ever. As she struggles to adjust to find her place in a new world, Hanako will find that the gold can come in many forms, and family may be hers.

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy

Silver Meadows Summer
by Emma Otheguy

Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer—and life as she knows it—is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene. Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become. But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and—to everyone’s surprise—Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galis

90 Miles to Havana
by Enrique Flores-Galis

When unrest hits the street of Havana Cuba, Julian’s parents must make the heartbreading decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation.

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights
by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

Malala retells her story of speaking out for girls’ education rights for chapter book readers.

My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero and Erica Moroz

My Family Divided
by Diane Guerrero and Erica Moroz

Before landing a spot on the megahit Netflix show Orange is the New Black; before wow-ing audiences as Lina on Jane the Virgin; and before her incredible activism and work on immigration reform, Diane Guerrero was a young girl living in Boston. One day, while Guerrero was at school, her undocumented immigrant parents were taken from their home, detained, and deported. Guerrero’s life, which had been full of the support of a loving family, was turned upside down.

Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard

Drita, My Homegirl
by Jenny Lombard

Fleeing war-torn Kosovo, ten-year-old Drita and her family move to America with the dream of living a typical American life. But with this hope comes the struggle to adapt and fit in. How can Drita find her place at school and in her new neighborhood when she doesn’t speak any English? Meanwhile, Maxie and her group of fourth-grade friends are popular in their class, and make an effort to ignore Drita. So when their teacher puts Maxie and Drita together for a class project, things get off to a rocky start. But sometimes, when you least expect it, friendship can bloom and overcome even a vast cultural divide.