Immigration Stories: Hispanic Heritage

Immigration is a significant them in books about Latino/Latin American families and children. From the arrival of a grandparent to the challenges of life along the border, these stories approach the topic with sensitivity and honesty.

A Day's Work

Illustrated by: Ronald Himler
Age Level: 6-9

When Francisco's grandfather arrives from Mexico speaking no English and in search of a job, Francisco becomes his translator. In his desire to help Abuelo find work quickly, Francisco lies about what his grandfather knows how to do, creating trouble for both of them. In the end, Francisco learns an important lesson in this poignant story about immigrant families and day laborers.

Going Home

Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 6-9

Mama and Papa are excited to take a break from working in the fields and go home, but Carlos and his sisters are not sure how they feel about traveling to Mexico. Soon after arriving, however, they meet their loving extended family, and the children begin to understand what it meant for their parents to leave home in order to offer the family a better future. David Diaz's stunning illustrations layered on top of photos of Mexican folk art bring Eve Bunting's beautiful story to life.

My Diary from Here to There

Illustrated by: Maya Christina Gonzalez
Age Level: 6-9

While the rest of the family proclaims excitement at their imminent move ("They have escalators to ride!" says one of her five brothers), Amada confides her fears to her journal: "Am I the only one who is scared of leaving our home, our beautiful country, and all the people we might never see again?" Amada Irma Pérez shares the story of her journey to the U.S. as a young girl and Maya Christina Gonzalez's fluid illustrations spill color across the page. Bilingual text.

My Havana

Illustrated by: Amos Ferguson
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: "You're always drawing in that notebook of yours," Dino's friend teases. To the small boy, 1950s Havana is alive with color, music, and glamour, and he itches to capture it on paper. When Fidel Castro and the Communist Party take over the Cuban government, Dino's family must move to New York, where the lonely boy pours his heart into making a model of Havana's archways and balconies, buildings and streets. Rosemary Wells composes a tender ode to an immigrant boy who grew up to be a U.S.

My Name Is Maria Isabel

Illustrated by: K. Dyble Thompson
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn't call her by her real name. "We already have two Marías in this class," says her teacher. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" But María Isabel has been named for her Papá's mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she's lost the most important part of herself?

My Shoes and I

Age Level: 9-12

Mario is leaving El Salvador with a new pair of shoes — and a good thing, too, because he has a long and difficult journey ahead of him to reach a new country. His shoes carry him through rain and across mountains, all the way to the river where his mother is waiting on the other side. Young readers may need some information explaining the context of the story, which is based on the author's journey from El Salvador in 1985. Painted illustrations on grainy wood backgrounds match the gritty but hopeful tone of the story.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale

Age Level: 6-9

When the rains don't come in the spring, Papá Rabbit sets out north to work in the carrot and lettuce fields. He doesn't return when expected, however, and his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, embarks on a journey to find his father. He meets a coyote who agrees to show him a shortcut, but only in exchange for Pancho's food. After an exhausting journey, Pancho is left with nothing — except the hope of finding his father. An author's note provides extensive information and recommended resources. Winner 2014 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Honor Award.

The Remembering Stone

Illustrated by: Claire B. Cotts
Age Level: 6-9

Each morning in the early fall, Ana and her mother watch the blackbirds fly away. "One day I will return like you," Ana's mother tells the birds. Ana knows that her mother is thinking of her homeland, Costa Rica, and Ana'a grandparents. When Ana holds a special volcanic stone that her mother brought with her, she is certain that someday they will return together. A tender depiction of the nostalgia and dreams of an immigrant family.

Uncle Rain Cloud

Illustrated by: Fabricio Vanden Broeck
Age Level: 6-9

When Tío Tomás speaks in Spanish and tells his nephew Carlos ancient stories from Mexico, he is animated and happy. When he has to speak in English, however, his bad mood makes him look like a rain cloud. Eventually the two of them find a solution that will allow them to know "twice as much as everyone else!" This realistic story provides an authentic look at the frustration many recent immigrants feel when they are struggling to learn a new language, as well as the opportunities that being bilingual provides.

Xochitl and the Flowers

Illustrated by: Carl Angel
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Though Xochitl and her family have put down new roots in the United States, Xochitl still misses the garden and flower shop they left behind in El Salvador. But when Xochitl's family decides to start a nursery and sell their flowers on the street, the sense of community they find makes them feel connected to their neighbors, and their decision to start a nursery and flower shop in their backyard helps the Flores family finally feels at home in its adopted country.