Irish Stories: Immigration and More

The stories of Irish immigrants are an important part of our nation's history, from tales of the journey across the Atlantic to the family keepsakes and memories that have been passed down across generations.

These books honor that heritage and celebrate the great Irish tradition of storytelling. For more related material, see Reading Rockets' videos and podcasts featuring the beloved Irish authors below:

Angela and the Baby Jesus (Children's Edition)

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: When six-year-old Angela sees the Baby Jesus in the Christmas crib at the church near her house, she feels very sorry for him. He looks happy enough but she wonders why he has no blanket to keep him warm. So Angela decides to take the Baby home with her, when no one is looking, and make him more comfortable. But hiding the Baby Jesus isn't easy. How long can Angela keep her big secret? This wonderful Christmas story is based on an incident from the childhood of Frank McCourt's mother, Angela of Angela's Ashes.

Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story

Illustrated by: Ben F. Stahl
Age Level: 6-9

Eve Bunting tells the inspiring true story of the first Ellis Island immigrant, fifteen-year-old Annie Moore of Cork, Ireland. An afterword provides information about Annie and her family. Photos are paired with the vibrant illustrations.

Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty

Age Level: 9-12

Raymond Bial begins his introduction to Ellis Island with the question, "What are visitors hoping to find on this small island?" Filled with historic and modern photos of the Island, immigrants, and their belongings, Bial thoughtfully answers this question with extensive information about Ellis Island and the immigrants who passed through its gates. Quotes from immigrants about their journey, arrival, medical exams, and occasional detention add a personal touch. Difficult topics such as genocide, epidemics, and grueling medical exams are included.

Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel

Illustrated by: Mary Azarian
Age Level: 6-9

When Miss Bridie left her homeland in 1856, she could have brought any number of things on her journey — but she chose a shovel. With the shovel, she creates a new life for herself filled with gardens, orchards, ice skating, and a family. The story provides an opportunity for students to think about what they would take if they were moving to a new country, as well as the ingenuity and hard work of our nation's immigrants.

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh

Illustrated by: Ben F. Stahl
Age Level: 6-9

When young Fergus left Ireland to set sail for America, he brought with him a branch from his family's blackthorn tree. That branch became a shillelagh, which he whittled on the ship crossing the Atlantic. Fergus' shillelagh and the story of his journey pass down through generations of his family every St. Patrick's Day, until it is finally forgotten. When young Kayleigh discovers the shillelagh, however, the story is reborn for a new generation. A lilting and lyrical text is enhanced by lovely paintings that evoke the different experiences of Fergus' descendents.

Together in Pinecone Patch

Age Level: 6-9

"Not long ago, the people of Ireland and the people of Poland knew very little of each other." So begins a tale of young Keara Buckley and Stefan Pazik, who are brought together in a small mining town in Pennsylvania. Both the Irish and Polish families insist that each child have nothing to do with each other, but as time goes on, the two young people realize they have quite a bit in common. Yezerski conveys both hardship and hope through his detailed text and illustrations.