Ingram Blog

The Immigrant Experience

by Gina Molter,  MLIS, Collection Development Librarian

There are so many important topics in the news today that children are being bombarded with, and unfortunately, it may be hard for them to get all the information they need in a world full of sound bites and lists. Immigration is certainly one of these topics, and it deserves a little more of a deep dive to help children grasp all the subtleties and nuances of the situation. For example, younger children in preschool or early elementary may have a lot of questions. To provide a basic understanding of some of the issues involved with immigration, What is a Refugee?  by Elise Gravel offers a simplified explanation of those seeking to immigrate for asylum. The book also includes quotes from refugee children the author has interviewed, as well as short biographies of famous refugees.

While immigration is a hot topic in the news today, it has always been an important topic to the US. For example, almost 100 years ago, there was an Act passed to limit immigration from eastern and southern Europe. Students in upper elementary and middle school can learn all about it in the bookThe 1924 Immigration Act and Its Relevance Today by Duchess Harris, part of the Freedom’s Promise series.

Not only have various countries of origin historically been used to try to limit or even block immigration, but religion has been used to discriminate against people seeking entry into the United States. The series called Immigrant Experiences, recommended for students in upper elementary and middle school, examines several different groups, such as those from Central America, Vietnam, and India and their experiences, both good and bad, with immigrating to the US. In addition, the series also offers titles such as Catholic Immigrants: In Their Shoes, Muslim Immigrants: In Their Shoes, and Jewish Immigrants: In Their Shoes to give students an even broader perspective on how certain immigrants have been treated historically through to contemporary times.

Finally, for high school students who seek a better understanding of what it means to be undocumented, #ownvoices author Julissa Arce’s biography Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream is now available in paperback. The author recounts her childhood of growing up in Mexico while her parents worked in Texas, until the day she was brought to Texas to be with her family. Readers will learn what it was like to live as an undocumented immigrant in the United States and will cheer her on as she grows up and eventually finds success as a vice president with Goldman Sachs.

Immigration is a multi-faceted, ongoing issue, but knowledge is power—the power to understand, to heal, and to help make wise, informed decisions. For more books on the topic of immigration or on the related topic of civil and human rights, check out the following lists: