Friday, April 9, 2021

Studying the Immigration Experience with Children

When I sit down to read the news these days, I keep seeing story after story about the huge number of migrants who are coming to our borders. 

Most of them are children.

If you've been following MommyMaestra for long, you know that two years ago, I hosted a book drive for migrant children. The tremendous hardship that these kids are going through is unimaginable to most of us. Actually, it's something we don't want to imagine. Because the reality is horrific.

So how do we have these conversations with our children to educate them about what is happening? How do we present the plight of these migrant children in a compassionate and humane way? How do we explain why children are leaving their countries, their families, and coming here without frightening our kids or teaching them to make (inaccurate) assumptions or to be judgmental? 

One way to do this is through books. Stories have power. When we talk with someone in person, it is too easy to stop listening - to interrupt. But when we have a book, the story is there for us to read in its entirety. I can't imaging how challenging it is for an author to write about the topic of migrant children. But I'm so grateful that the authors listed below have taken on this burden in an attempt to humanize these innocent victims who are so often vilified or mistreated. 

I thought now would be a good time to share resources with you.

Lesson Plans


Next, I love this Ted Talk by author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. You'll find out why he began writing children's books and how his illustrations are inspired by Ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. He also discusses why he has chosen the themes of migration and comparing/contrasting the lives of Mexican and American children for his children's books. It's a great listen and I encourage you to take the time to watch the video.

Children's Books about Immigration

In addition, here are some of my favorite children's books that put the immigration experience into a form that kids can truly understand. The titles below focus on children and families and the hardships and adventure that come with moving to a new country, a new culture, and a new language. But these books are not just for children born and raised here in the United States. They are also to give immigrant children a chance to see their stories in print and know that there are many other children who have experienced a similar situation.

If you are looking for great children's literature on immigration, consider the following titles. 
The following are affiliate links.

by Duncan Tonatiuh

by René Colato Laínez

by Amada Irma Pérez

by Jorge Argueta

by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

by Mariana Llanos

by Jorge Argueta

by Guadalupe García McCall


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