Books to use for Teaching Immigration

Books to use for Teaching Immigration

I'm here today to share with you some wonderful books to use for teaching immigration! Immigration is a dense topic but at my school in Massachusetts, it is required to be taught in second grade. I spent many years looking for high quality, helpful trade books to support my students.

Here are some of my favorites!

Non Fiction

Coming to America by Betsy and Guilio Maestro   is a book I often start with when opening my immigration unit! It covers a lot and I usually need to read it in two sessions but it really helps explain many facets of immigration to America in the 1800s.
Kids are really into the Who Was/What Was series so this one is a great addition to your classroom library if you have fans! Even a lot of my second graders could read and enjoy this one.

How old does it make me sound if I admit  this series was kind of new when I started teaching in 1998? Anyway, it still comes in handy to answer questions that come up. The book is split into chapters titled with questions like "What if your name was changed at Ellis Island?" or "Why was Ellis Island opened?"
This is a helpful book that most of your students will be able to read. You can also read parts or all of it out loud to help with important topics!
Now I want to be 100% transparent with you and tell you I don't have this book (yet), but Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers has been described as a "fascinating and fun take on non-fiction". If, like first grade teachers at my school, you need to teach about American symbols, this is a great book to share!


Let's talk about some wonderful fiction! Dreamers is a book that we read two years ago about a young mother immigrating by foot to the USA. Now, this doesn't really fit in if you need to focus on immigration in the 1800s but it's  an important, pertinent, and special story. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is inspiring.

Patricia Polacco books are always a home run! Fiona's Lace is a beautiful story that resonates with me because many of my own ancestors immigrated to the United States of America from Ireland.
 When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a terrific choice to teach about immigration in a way that will interest your students - it teaches while telling a historical fiction tale. Jessie is a teenage girl that crosses the Atlantic on a ship with her two younger brother. She makes her way in New York City and is able to honor and keep her family traditions from her old country.
Finally, this book is award winning and especially perfect if you teach older students (probably 4th grade and up as a read aloud, or independent reading for middle school). This doesn't take place during the 1800s but instead during the Great Depression and Esperanza must try to make her way in a California labor camp for Mexican.


If you're looking for teaching resources and curriculum,  I created immigration resources that teachers can use with second, third, and fourth graders. It was just right for my students and it may help you!
Immigration unit for second, third and fourth graders! Helpful, accessible curriculum

So what would you recommend? Are there any other books to use for teaching immigration? Let us know and we will reshare! 

                                                  Books to use for teaching immigration

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