Immigration Stories: A New Life

These stories examine the lives of young people who have come to the U.S. under a wide variety of circumstances — some fleeing political persecution or civil war, others following family members who are chasing the American dream. Recommended for grades 7-12.

90 Miles to Havana

Age Level: 9-12

"Drawing on his own experience as a child refugee from Cuba, Flores-Galbis offers a gripping historical novel about children who were evacuated from Cuba to the U.S. during Operation Pedro Pan in 1961. Julian, a young Cuban boy, experiences the violent revolution and watches mobs throw out his family's furniture and move into their home. For his safety, his parents send him to a refugee camp in Miami, but life there is no sweet haven…(T)his is a seldom-told refugee story that will move readers." — Booklist

Before We Were Free

Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government's secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo's dictatorship. Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind.

First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Fleeing from political violence in Venezuela, Amina and her family have settled in the United States. Sarah, adopted, is desperate to know her Korean birth parents. Adrian's friends have some spooky — and hilarious — misconceptions about his Romanian origins. Whether their transition is from Mexico to the United States or from Palestine to New Mexico, the characters in this anthology have all ventured far and have faced countless challenges.

Gringolandia

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Daniel's papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi — all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile's military regime. After Papá's arrest in 1980, Daniel's family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, but when Daniel's father is released and rejoins his family, they see what five years of prison and torture have done to him. Even though Daniel dreams of a real father-son relationship, he may have to give up everything simply to save Papá's life.

Kids Like Me: Voices of the Immigrant Experience

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Twenty-six personal narratives celebrate the experiences of young people making new homes in unfamiliar communities — finding common ground as they make new friends, learn different languages, and share their unique cultural identities. While written to help youth understand their classmates and friends, Kids Like Me also includes discussion questions, self-directed activities and research ideas for teachers and families that can be used in classrooms, clubs, and community settings.

Let It Rain Coffee: A Novel

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Esperanza risked her life fleeing the Dominican Republic for the glittering dream she saw on television, but years later she is still stuck in a cramped tenement with her husband, Santo, and their two children, Bobby and Dallas. When Santo's mother dies and his father, Don Chan, comes to Nueva York to live out his twilight years with the Colóns, nothing will ever be the same. Let It Rain Coffee is a sweeping novel about love, loss, family, and the elusive nature of memory and desire.

Life, After

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: After a terrorist attack kills Dani's aunt and unborn cousin, life in Argentina crumbles. In order to escape a country that is sinking under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It's supposed to be a fresh start, but when you're living in a cramped apartment, your father is growing more angry by the day, and you're going to high school where the classes are in another language — and not everyone is friendly — life in America is not all it's cracked up to be. Dani misses her old friends, her life, Before.

New Kids In Town: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens

Age Level: 12-14

This collection of oral histories from immigrant teens provides an important glimpse of the experiences of newcomers to the U.S. in their own words. While the collection was compiled in 1991, young immigrants today will recognize the themes of discrimination, learning English, and balancing the different expectations of two cultures. Resilient, optimistic, and unforgettable, these students give voice to the feelings that many young immigrants don't yet have the words to share.

Red Midnight

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: When guerrilla soldiers strike Santiago's Guatemalan village, they destroy everything in their path — including his home and family. Santiago and his four-year-old sister escape, running for their lives. They set sail in a sea kayak their Uncle Ramos built while dreaming of his own escape. Sailing through narrow channels guarded by soldiers, shark-infested waters, and days of painful heat and raging storms, Santiago and Angelina face an almost impossible voyage hundreds of miles across the open ocean, heading for the hope of a new life in the United States.

Song of the Water Saints

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: This début novel explores the dreams and struggles of three generations of Dominican women. Graciela, born on the outskirts of Santo Domingo at the turn of the century, is a headstrong adventuress who comes of age during the U.S. occupation. Mercedes, abandoned by Graciela at thirteen, turns to religion for solace and, after managing to keep a shop alive during the Trujillo dictatorship, emigrates to New York with her husband and granddaughter, Leila. Leila inherits her great-grandmother Graciela's passion-driven recklessness.

The Red Umbrella

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States — on their own. Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, and a new way of life.

The Turtle of Oman

Illustrated by: Betsy Peterschmidt
Age Level: 9-12

This accessible, exquisite novel shines with gentle humor and explores themes of moving, family, nature, and immigration. It tells the story of Aref Al-Amri, who must say good-bye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aref does not want to leave Oman, his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. Finally, his mother calls Siddi for help so that Aref will pack. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures.

When I Was Puerto Rican

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Esmeralda Santiago's story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven (soon to be eleven) children, Esmeralda as the oldest must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity.

¡Yo!

Age Level: 16-18

"The heroine of Julia Alvarez's ¡Yo! is an author who writes what she knows — much to the chagrin of her close-knit immigrant family…Yo's friends and family members, many of whom appeared in Alvarez's earlier novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, take turns narrating this book. They draw a vivid portrait of the writer, describing her big mouth and high-strung nature as well as the details of her youth in the Dominican Republic." — Amazon Review