The best books about immigrants

Who picked these books? Meet our 168 experts.

168 authors created a book list connected to immigrants, and here are their favorite immigrant books.
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What type of immigrant book?



By James A. Michener,

Book cover of Hawaii

Ken Yoder Reed Author Of Both My Sons

From the list on time travel to transport to another time and place.

Who am I?

"There is no frigate like a book"—my grade school teacher, Mrs. Gundy, liked to quote Emily Dickinson as she encouraged us to read. I became a novelist because I found imagination has the power to transport a reader across centuries and perhaps national boundaries and into a character’s heart and soul. After growing up in the Mennonite/Amish culture of Pennsylvania I published four novels, three of them three historical novels that present that culture. What do I look for in good historical fiction? An unforgettable character and a good capture of the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times in which that character lives. The five books I recommend all do that.

Ken's book list on time travel to transport to another time and place

Discover why each book is one of Ken's favorite books.

Why did Ken love this book?

Michener published Hawaii in 1959, the same year that Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state. Michener traces Hawaii’s epic history in a set of episodes that begins with the physical birth of the islands as volcanos. From there, in succession, the story follows the Polynesian seafarers who made the perilous 1,300-mile journey in canoes, then the arrival of American missionaries in the 19th Century. Further episodes include the arrival of the Chinese and then the Japanese and in the final chapter, "The Golden Men," we see how intermarriage of all of these ethnicities produces the modern ‘golden Hawaiian.'

In 1966, parts of the book were made into the film, Hawaii, starring Max von Sydow as the American missionary, Abner Hale, and Julie Andrews as his wife. The film covers the book’s third chapter, the settlement in the island kingdom by its first American missionaries and their crusade against Hawaiian…

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hawaii as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener brings Hawaii’s epic history vividly to life in a classic saga that has captivated readers since its initial publication in 1959. As the volcanic Hawaiian Islands sprout from the ocean floor, the land remains untouched for centuries—until, little more than a thousand years ago, Polynesian seafarers make the perilous journey across the Pacific, flourishing in this tropical paradise according to their ancient traditions. Then, in the early nineteenth century, American missionaries arrive, bringing with them a new creed and a new way of life. Based on exhaustive research and told in Michener’s immersive prose,…


By Yuyi Morales,

Book cover of Dreamers

Hollis Kurman Author Of Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children

From the list on sparking conversations about refugees.

Who am I?

The refugee story is deeply rooted in my family, as my (great-/) grandparents fled Europe for a safer life in America. I grew up listening to their stories of escape and trying to integrate in their new land. Human rights were also a focus of my graduate studies – and later in founding the Human Rights Watch Committee NL and joining the Save the Children Board of Trustees. I am a writer and poet, Board member, and former strategy consultant who always wanted to write refugee stories for children. Their stories are difficult. But children should understand that although the world is not always safe or fair, there is always hope.

Hollis' book list on sparking conversations about refugees

Discover why each book is one of Hollis' favorite books.

Why did Hollis love this book?

A non-fiction picture book that reads like poetry, this gorgeous book describes the author’s own journey from Mexico to the U.S. with her young son. The illustrations are as poetic as the language, which infuses English with Spanish words, simple words with more challenging ones, and words of pain with those of pride, resilience, and creativity. The book explores not only the refugee’s journey, but also, and most especially, the challenges and small victories of integrating and trying to make a new life in a new land. I also love the central role that books, words, and libraries play in paving the way toward this new life. Language is power, but it is also magic.

By Yuyi Morales,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dreamers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We are resilience. We are hope. We are dreamers.
Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.

Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It's the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it's a promise that…

Rites of Passage

By William Golding,

Book cover of Rites of Passage

Peter Guttridge Author Of City of Dreadful Night

From the list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by long stories where things aren’t exactly as they seem. Most crime fiction is secrets and lies and their eventual uncovering but most ‘literary’ fiction is too. For what it’s worth, I was a book reviewer for all the posh UK papers for about 15 years, including crime fiction critic for The Observer for twelve (so I’ve read far more crime novels than is healthy for anyone!). I’m a voracious reader and writer and I love making things more complicated for myself (and the reader) by coming up with stuff that I’ve then somehow got to fit together.  

Peter's book list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books.

Why did Peter love this book?

William Golding surpassed his Lord of the Flies with these novels about a sea voyage to Australia in the early 19th century on a former man-of-war crammed with passengers and crew. In it he explores his usual theme—all that is good and (mostly) bad in human nature and how savagery can so easily erupt.  

Something dark happens in the cramped confines below deck, linked to Reverend Colley, an unhappy on-ship acquaintance of the young aristocrat, Edmund Talbot, who narrates the story via his diaries. 

Talbot sorts the dark secret to his own satisfaction but that’s an unreliable narrator for you! A dark cloud still hangs over the ship, despite some lightness, especially as the old vessel may flounder before it reaches Australia. Stunning—and stunning evocation of shipboard life.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rites of Passage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient, stinking warship, where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the crammed spaces below decks.Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo'castle something happens to bring him into a 'hell of self-degradation', where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.

Starting from Seneca Falls

By Karen Schwabach,

Book cover of Starting from Seneca Falls

Karen Meyer Author Of Secrets in the Sky Nest

From the list on a peek into the life of real historical figures.

Who am I?

I’ve been a history nut since junior high trips to prehistoric Indian Mounds in Ohio. I transcribed an early town settler’s diary as a high school project. Traveling with my Air Force hubby gave me a window into faraway places. Allan Eckert’s narrative history of pioneer times grabbed my imagination. My children would love these gripping tales of settler versus Shawnee, yet they’d never crack the two-inch thick volume. I tried writing historical fiction on their level by bringing a young protagonist into the story. I had no idea I’d follow that first book with eight more, delving into the history of various famous Ohioans. 

Karen's book list on a peek into the life of real historical figures

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

I’m not a feminist and I don’t feel oppressed as a woman. But after reading this book, I’m glad that Elizabeth Cady Stanton hosted the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1858. The young protagonist, Bridie, has experienced some of the wrongs that Mrs. Stanton tries to put right. I enjoyed getting to know the famous activist through Bridie’s eyes. Bridie flees from a cruel master and finds work with “the strangest lady she’s ever met”. Mrs. Stanton comes across as a down-to-earth woman, not the crusader type at all. I laughed at the detail of the two young Stanton boys romping through the cabbages. Kudos to the author for including other events and issues for context—the Irish potato famine, poorhouses, the Free Soil Party, the Erie Canal, and the Underground Railroad. Young ladies will appreciate their privileges after reading this novel.

By Karen Schwabach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starting from Seneca Falls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment with another historical novel about women's suffrage from the author of The Hope Chest!

Bridie's life has been a series of wrongs. The potato famine in Ireland. Being sent to the poorhouse when her mother's new job in America didn't turn out the way they'd hoped. Becoming an orphan.

And then there's the latest wrong--having to work for a family so abusive that Bridie is afraid she won't survive. So she runs away to Seneca Falls, New York, which in 1848 is a bustling town full of possibility. There, she makes friends with…

Book cover of The Master Butchers Singing Club

Karin Melberg Schwier Author Of Small Reckonings

From the list on historical prairie fiction to transport readers.

Who am I?

I am drawn to stories about “the olden days,” non-fiction, fiction, or first-hand storytelling by homesteaders who came from away to settle on the prairies. Perhaps it is a way to recall my own farm childhood, a way to recall both joyful and unhappy times. When my brother taught me to climb (and get down from) the apple tree. The realization the pet steer who followed me around all summer and occasionally let me ride on his back while he grazed would be met by the mobile butcher truck in the fall. Hardships and simple joys, the life lessons, the banal work done for the family and farm to survive.

Karin's book list on historical prairie fiction to transport readers

Discover why each book is one of Karin's favorite books.

Why did Karin love this book?

It follows German immigrant Fidelis Waldvogel and his family, and other characters in a small rural town in North Dakota in the years of and in between the First and Second World Wars.

The way the earthy and believable characters confront complex human issues intertwined with family, betrayal, death, are deftly told by a master storyteller. This one sits on my bookshelf for re-reads. I am in awe of Erdrich’s storytelling ability; you know these characters, you can smell the inside of the butcher shop, you feel a boy’s exhilaration as he watches a plane fly overhead.

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Master Butchers Singing Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful novel from one of the most celebrated American writers of her generation, and the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction 2012

In the quiet aftermath of WWI, Fidelis Waldvogel leaves behind his quiet German village, and sets out for America with his new wife Eva - the widow of his best friend, killed in action.

Finally settling in North Dakota, Fidelis works hard to build a business, a home for his family - and a singing club consisting of the best voices in town. But his adventure into the New World truly begins when he encounters…

Next Ship Home

By Heather Webb,

Book cover of Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island

Kathleen Boston McCune Author Of Assignment Love: The Writer and Her Agent

From the list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress.

Who am I?

I'm a woman of four and seventy years who thankfully doesn’t yet resemble that person to those who haven’t met me. I'm a mother of two who both have their own businesses in the fields of their natural talents, I've been Deputy Treasurer to the State of Kansas, written 22 books but think younger than I did at 20, and am enjoying the best sex life to date! Life is precious and should not be limited to us based on our age, but on our interests, knowledge, and what we have to offer. Writing about that which I've experienced and the recorded history of family are my passions and hopefully for my readers as well.

Kathleen's book list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

I personally enjoyed this book for the courage found by the Heroine in a world where women were considered 2nd class citizens, but she, through strength of character and love of a sister she loses due to illness and no monies to save her, gives her that impetus to forge ahead through unconventional, but effective ways and new friends of wealth in America. It could be called a Cinderella story with illegal immigrants as heroines.

A book of 1902, about a young woman who had been abused by her father to the point that a nun suggested she find refuge elsewhere. From Italy, she proceeds to save enough money to book passage with a ship for both herself and her younger sister who is already ill from similar abuse. She looks forward to Ellis Island, knowing she then will be on the safe harbor of America, until she learns that…

By Heather Webb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Next Ship Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures…

Streets of Gold

By Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan,

Book cover of Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success

Kimberly Clausing Author Of Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital

From the list on big economic policy debates.

Who am I?

I became an economist because I realized that economics was a powerful tool that would help society solve vexing problems. While economics has limits, it has so much to offer in terms of better policy design for tackling everything from climate change to economic inequality. My life’s work has been devoted to both economic research and helping others understand the insights of economics. I spent many years in academia teaching economics and writing papers, and I authored Open in an attempt to make the complexities of international economics more transparent. I’ve also had the chance to work firsthand on some of these issues in the early part of the Biden Administration at the US Treasury.

Kimberly's book list on big economic policy debates

Discover why each book is one of Kimberly's favorite books.

Why did Kimberly love this book?

When I began researching the economics of immigration, I expected to find that my prejudice in favor of immigrants needed more nuance. However, even more than I suspected, the economic literature is resounding in describing the many large economic benefits of immigration. Streets of Gold describes how essential immigration has been to American economic success, and it provides a strong argument for a more open immigration policy. 

By Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Streets of Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse-yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, new evidence is provided about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories, and draw counterintuitive conclusions, including:

* Upward Mobility: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents - a pattern…

The Edge of Lost

By Kristina McMorris,

Book cover of The Edge of Lost

Cindy Thomson Author Of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

From the list on Irish immigrant historical fiction.

Who am I?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.

Cindy's book list on Irish immigrant historical fiction

Discover why each book is one of Cindy's favorite books.

Why did Cindy love this book?

The story begins with a mystery and then we are taken back to Dublin, Ireland, to the character’s childhood. He comes to Ellis Island alone and is taken in by an Italian family. The immigrant experience is compelling in this novel and I love a story where you go back in time to try to figure out how the character got to the place he’s in and what happened on his journey. This is a page-turner for sure.

By Kristina McMorris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Edge of Lost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.
Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living in Dublin…

Hope and Glory

By Jendella Benson,

Book cover of Hope and Glory

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn Author Of Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

From the list on that pay homage to south London.

Who am I?

Having grown up and gone to school in south London, it will always have a special place in my heart. Call me biased, but I think it’s the best place in the capital. Hands down. I love that it’s home to many Afro-Caribbean families and how its cultural presence can be felt by just walking down any street. From the bustling markets selling plantain, yams, and hard dough bread to the throng of aunties wearing brightly-coloured, patterned lace as they make their way to church. With south London being so atmospheric, I knew I had to include it as a setting in my novel. It will always be my first home.  

Lizzie's book list on that pay homage to south London

Discover why each book is one of Lizzie's favorite books.

Why did Lizzie love this book?

Hope and Glory has to be one of the most relatable books I’ve ever read, and not just because it’s set in my old stomping ground, Peckham. It follows Hope, a twenty-something British Nigerian who, after returning to London for her dad’s funeral, discovers a life-shattering family secret. What I loved about this book was that I felt as though the author was writing a love letter to those individuals who didn’t have it easy growing up and whose stories are not often told in mainstream fiction. I feel as though Hope and Glory will provide a sigh of relief for so many readers; I, for one, certainly felt seen. Beautifully observed, heartfelt and authentic, I felt a xylophone of emotions while reading this exquisite novel, but in the end, very hopeful.

By Jendella Benson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope and Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'So deliciously South London.' - Yomi Adegoke, author of SLAY IN YOUR LANE

'A sweeping, rich tale that explores family, secrets, loss, love and redemption within the context of a tessellation of cultures - written with a beautiful texture, Benson pulls you in to a deftly-woven story with tautly-written sentences, and before you know it you find yourself in too deep to get out, too deep to want to get out, wanting to know more.'
- Bolu Babalola, author of LOVE IN COLOUR

'Jendella Benson has drawn such a compelling world that Hope and Glory, the book and the characters…

Enrique's Journey

By Sonia Nazario,

Book cover of Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother

Louis Mendoza Author Of (Re)constructing Memory, Place, and Identity in Twentieth Century Houston: A Memoir on Family and Being Mexican American in Space City USA

From the list on Mexican migration to the United States.

Who am I?

As a second-generation immigrant, I knew very little of my family’s migration story. My grandparents never really learned English despite living in the US sixty or more years. In my twenties when the country was undergoing turmoil about immigration reform once again, I began looking at the immigrants all around me (and in literature) and identifying what we had in common—how our lives intertwined and were mutually dependent on one another. In 2007 I traveled 8,500 miles around the perimeter of the US by bicycle on a research trip to collect stories from immigrants and those whose lives they impacted. I wrote two books based on that experience.

Louis' book list on Mexican migration to the United States

Discover why each book is one of Louis' favorite books.

Why did Louis love this book?

Enrique’s Journey follows a 17-year-old boy from Honduras who migrates to the US in search of his mother who has been gone for 11 years. Although he is in touch with her via sporadic phone calls, his yearning to be with her is so deep that he undertakes a journey that is at once desperate, full of love and hope, and exceedingly dangerous.

The author, an award-winning journalist, documents Enrique’s journey to survive his trek northward that he undertakes with absolutely no money from a small Honduran village through Mexico atop freight trains, and his efforts to survive not only the dangerous train ride but the violence of those who prey on young migrants.

Though he does find his mother in North Carolina, his reunion is not easy as his resentment at being left behind plagues their relationship.

By Sonia Nazario,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enrique's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An astonishing story that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States, now updated with a new Epilogue and Afterword, photos of Enrique and his family, an author interview, and more—the definitive edition of a classic of contemporary America
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, this page-turner about the power of family is a popular text in classrooms and a touchstone for communities across the country to engage in meaningful discussions about this essential American subject.

Book cover of Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir

Jiordan Castle Author Of Disappearing Act: A True Story

From the list on resilience for young adults and adults.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in stories about becoming. Whether it’s a coming-of-age story, a story about overcoming adversity, or a story about discovery or recovery, I find that the best books about becoming also tend to be books about resilience. For me, the lure of a book is often more about its themes and perspective than it is about where it’s categorized and shelved. Having written a memoir in verse for an upper young adult reading group, this is especially true of my experience as an author. Each of the books on this list has something profound and singular to offer young adult readers and adult readers alike.

Jiordan's book list on resilience for young adults and adults

Discover why each book is one of Jiordan's favorite books.

Why did Jiordan love this book?

If you like graphic novels, you’ll love this book. If you like odds-defying coming-of-age stories, you’ll love this book. (You’ll love this book!)

Robin Ha generously captures and shares her own turbulent teen years in this visually and emotionally stunning graphic memoir. An abrupt move from Seoul, Korea to Huntsville, Alabama changed everything for Ha overnight, forcing her to grapple with racist schoolmates, language barriers, and isolation, but also finding her way forward through drawing.

It’s a powerful meditation on identity, as well as an incredibly unique style of memoir.

By Robin Ha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Almost American Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Harvey Award Nominee, Best Children or Young Adult Book 

A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life—perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo. 

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.


Book cover of How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts

Paul Spickard, Francisco Beltrán, and Laura Hooton Author Of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

From the list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US.

Who are we?

Paul Spickard wrote the first edition of Almost All Aliens. He invited Francisco Beltrán and Laura Hooton, who worked under Dr. Spickard at UC Santa Barbara, to co-author the second edition after working as research assistants and providing suggestions for the second edition. We are all historians of race, ethnicity, immigration, colonialism, and identity, and in our other works and teaching we each think about these topics in different ways. We did the same for this list—this is a list of five books that talk about topics that are important to Almost All Aliens and approaches that have been influential in how we think about the topic.  

Laura's book list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US

Discover why each book is one of Laura's favorite books.

Why did Laura love this book?

A focused examination of the relation between race and immigration in the United States, Natalia Molina looks at the effect of racialized immigration views and policies on Mexican migrants during the first half of the twentieth century. Her theory of racial scripts, she argues, is the product of race-based views of American identity. A must-read for scholars of immigration and race, especially for understanding how racialization of one group can occur and impact others across United States history.

By Natalia Molina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Race Is Made in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How Race Is Made in America examines Mexican Americans--from 1924, when American law drastically reduced immigration into the United States, to 1965, when many quotas were abolished--to understand how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed. These years shaped the emergence of what Natalia Molina describes as an immigration regime, which defined the racial categories that continue to influence perceptions in the United States about Mexican Americans, race, and ethnicity. Molina demonstrates that despite the multiplicity of influences that help shape our concept of race, common themes prevail. Examining legal, political, social, and cultural sources related to immigration, she…

The Arabic Quilt

By Aya Khalil, Anait Semirdzhyan (illustrator),

Book cover of The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story

Mara Rockliff Author Of Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope

From the list on picture books about languages.

Who am I?

I am a children’s author best known for digging up fascinating, often funny stories about famous people—and forgotten people who deserve to be famous again. But only one of them inspired me to take up a whole new hobby: L. L. Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto. Learning Esperanto turned out to be fun and easy. It helped me make friends all over the world, and got me interested in how language works.

Mara's book list on picture books about languages

Discover why each book is one of Mara's favorite books.

Why did Mara love this book?

There are lots of excellent contemporary picture books about children from other countries adjusting to life in the United States. What sets this book apart for me is that, rather than just sprinkling in some words in the family’s native tongue, it specifically talks about languages and bilingualism. The writing is a little on-the-nose in spots (children say things like “I didn’t realize how important a different language is” and “Aren’t languages a beautiful thing? They can truly unite us!”), but it’s a likable story with charming illustrations. My favorite part is at the end, when the Arabic quilt inspires another class to make one in Japanese.

By Aya Khalil, Anait Semirdzhyan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Arabic Quilt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a "quilt" (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi's most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.

This authentic story with beautiful illustrations includes a glossary of Arabic words and a presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents.

Receiving Erin's Children

By J. Matthew Gallman,

Book cover of Receiving Erin's Children: Philadelphia, Liverpool, and the Irish Famine Migration, 1845-1855

Frank Parker Author Of A Purgatory of Misery: How Victorian Liberals Turned a Crisis into a Disaster

From the list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine.

Who am I?

A friend with Parkinson's Disease requested my help in his attempts to understand the famine and its impact on his ancestors in County Clare. Once I began reading the material he brought me I was impelled to discover more. I had already researched and written about an earlier period in Irish history - the Anglo-Norman invasion - and it seemed that everything that happened on both sides of the Irish Sea in the centuries that followed was instrumental in making the famine such a disaster. Our book is the result.

Frank's book list on helping you understand the Irish potato famine

Discover why each book is one of Frank's favorite books.

Why did Frank love this book?

This is a book for members of the Irish diaspora. It tells of the experiences of your ancestors as they fled the conditions prevailing in their homeland.

Often single members of families whose objective was to earn money they could send back to Ireland in order to enable those family members left behind to follow. Too often the welcome they found, after travelling in appalling conditions as human cargo in ships unsuitable for the purpose, was not as warm as they had expected.

A story relevant today as we grapple with the problems created by modern migration from war- and/or famine-ravaged areas of the modern world, often still undertaken in unsuitable boats.

By J. Matthew Gallman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Receiving Erin's Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1845 and 1855, 2 million Irish men and women fled their famine-ravaged homeland, many to settle in large British and American cities that were already wrestling with a complex array of urban problems. In this innovative work of comparative urban history, Matthew Gallman looks at how two cities, Philadelphia and Liverpool, met the challenges raised by the influx of immigrants. Gallman examines how citizens and policymakers in Philadelphia and Liverpool dealt with such issues as poverty, disease, poor sanitation, crime, sectarian conflict, and juvenile delinquency. By considering how two cities of comparable population and dimensions responded to similar challenges,…

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins,

Book cover of American Dirt

Kathleen Stauffer Author Of Thou Shalt Not

From the list on women’s rights, roles, and limitations over time.

Who am I?

I grew up with five brothers in the 1950-60s and never felt that I could not do whatever they desired to do. Later, I developed a heart for women and children’s rights and a desire for real-life stories about authentic people and their struggles. As I watch the news, television, and observe my daughters and granddaughters, I am intrigued by women’s ever-evolving roles and the courage and perseverance it took for progress. Mary Meier, in Thou Shalt Not, did not  change the world; however, she did give her community much to think about when only the town blacksmith seemed to take an interest in her dire situation—which ultimately leads to a murder.

Kathleen's book list on women’s rights, roles, and limitations over time

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

Lydia, who lived in Acapulco, finds herself on the run with her only child, Lucas, due to the recent murder of her husband and feeling threatened herself. It is a timely book considering the countless number of people trying to enter the US—some of them fearing for their very lives. Although fiction, it was inspired by real-life people with real-life issues and how a mother will do anything to protect her child. As a mother of four, I understood I would do anything to protect my children. It was easy and yet painful to put myself in Lydia’s position as she suffered abuse, weather, hunger, and extreme fear to save her son and herself for a better life. It reminds me that sometimes we end up basically on our own in very tenuous situations. Would I be able to plan as Lydia did and then have the courage to carry…

By Jeanine Cummins,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked American Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Breathtaking... I haven't been so entirely consumed by a book for years' Telegraph
'I'll never stop thinking about it' Ann Patchett


Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as 'impossible to put down' (Saturday Review) and 'essential reading' (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved…

I'm an Immigrant Too!

By Mem Fox, Ronojoy Ghosh (illustrator),

Book cover of I'm an Immigrant Too!

Benson Shum Author Of First Night of Howlergarten

From the list on inclusion and being true to yourself.

Who am I?

Growing up, I was always the outcast. I wasn't the smartest in class. I wasn't the strongest in sports. I was always the shy kid in the back, trying not to make a noise. But when I made a connection with someone or they made the effort to say hi. I treasured our friendship. I love writing and sharing stories where we are talking about inclusion and building empathy toward each other. I hope you will enjoy these books on the list.

Benson's book list on inclusion and being true to yourself

Discover why each book is one of Benson's favorite books.

Why did Benson love this book?

A fun rhyming story about being from somewhere else and now living in Australia. How the country is welcoming of immigrants.

We learn how much more enriched Australia is when we have people, culture, and experiences from around the world living together. And the rhythm and rhyme of the text makes for a sing-song book.

By Mem Fox, Ronojoy Ghosh (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm an Immigrant Too! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From beloved Australian author Mem Fox comes a timely picture book about how all of our lives are enriched by the vibrant cultural diversity immigrants bring to their new communities.

What journeys we have travelled,
from countries near and far!
Together now, we live in peace,
beneath the Southern Star.

Inspired by the plight of immigrants around the world, Mem Fox was moved to write this lyrical and rhyming exploration of the myriad ways immigrants have enriched her home country of Australia. Young readers everywhere will see themselves—and their friends and neighbors—in this powerful and moving picture book.

The Lonely Londoners

By Sam Selvon,

Book cover of The Lonely Londoners

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From the list on introducing you to Black London.

Who am I?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Discover why each book is one of Jendella's favorite books.

Why did Jendella love this book?

Another classic, but this time set a generation before East of Acre Lane.

This follows members of the Windrush generation as they try and make their way in a city that is hostile in weather and temperament. There is a lot of humour here amongst the occasional bleakness, but either way it’s a revelatory read. Again, language is really important here to really hear the voices of the characters.

Admittedly, I read this quite late in the game, but could instantly see why it’s one of the classics.

By Sam Selvon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lonely Londoners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lonely Londoners, an unforgettable account of immigrant experience and one of the great twentieth-century London novels, now in in a stunning Clothbound Classics edition.

At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry 'Sir Galahad' Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo? But the irrepressible…

A Gift from Brittany

By Marjorie Price,

Book cover of A Gift from Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From the list on the magic of Brittany France.

Who am I?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

A twenty year old American woman goes to Paris to paint, meets a French artist, marries, has a child, and together buy a farmhouse and make a summer home and art studios in rural Brittany: that story. A memoir. 

The book was published in 2008, but the story takes place in the early 1960s when rural Brittany was closer to the 19th century than the 21st. I was in Paris in 1967, and it was still possible to rent a hotel room for under five dollars a night, to travel in Europe for ten dollars a day. In 1967, you could not safely drink the water in France, including in Paris, and you had to have proof of a typhus vaccine to return to the U.S. It was still more Henry Miller’s Paris than Macron’s.

This was the time of the last of every day berets, blue…

By Marjorie Price,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Gift from Brittany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The enchanting memoir of an artist?s liberating sojourn in France during the sixties?and the friendship that transformed her life

While in her late twenties, Marjorie Price leaves the comfort of her Chicago suburb to strike out on her own in Paris and hone her artistic talents. Dazzled by everything French, she falls in love with a volatile French painter and they purchase an old farmhouse in the Breton countryside. When Marjorie?s seemingly idyllic marriage begins to unravel, she forms a friendship with an elderly peasant woman, Jeanne, who is illiterate, has three cows to her name, and has never left…

Book cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

Kristen O'Neal Author Of Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

From the list on when something queer’s afoot.

Who am I?

It’s great for me, personally, that queer means both strange and gay, in some way, because I’m both. I love writing stories that are zany, bizarre, and supernatural, but still grounded in the real world; giving detail to the strangeness makes it feel more real, like something that could have happened to a friend of a friend. I’m particularly moved by stories that work on both the literal and metaphorical level – being a werewolf is a metaphor for being queer and chronically ill, but my werewolf, Brigid, is also a chronically ill lesbian. Here are five of my favorite books that capture both definitions of the word queer. 

Kristen's book list on when something queer’s afoot

Discover why each book is one of Kristen's favorite books.

Why did Kristen love this book?

Natasha Pulley’s grounded historical novel marries detailed research of late-19th-century England and Japan with something stranger and more fantastical – but these elements together heighten the narrative. Clerk Thaniel Steepleton’s relationship with clockwork-maker Keita Mori centers the story – they change one another in ways that even fate can’t completely anticipate. There’s a lot of tenderness between them, and it captures the way that falling in love can feel like meeting someone again, instead of for the first time. Also, there’s a pet clockwork octopus. That’s vital. 

By Natasha Pulley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHORS' CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016 SHORTLISTED FOR THE BETTY TRASK PRIZE 2016 FINALIST FOR THE LOCUS FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016 An International Bestseller - A Guardian Summer Read - An Amazon Best Book of the Month - A Goodreads Best Book of the Month - A Buzzfeed Summer Read - A Foyles Book of the Month - AHuffington Post Summer Read - A Yorkshire Post Book of the Week In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has worse fears than generous burglars; he…

Call Me American

By Abdi Nor Iftin,

Book cover of Call Me American: A Memoir

Shugri Said Salh Author Of The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

From the list on bringing other cultures to life.

Who am I?

I am at heart a storyteller, with a special interest in archiving and weaving the tales of my people to give you insight into a culture that is quite different from yours. Like an archaeologist digging a forgotten world, I want to bring these stories to life in the form of words. After a long day of animal herding and chores, my family and I would sit by the fire in a vast, open desert covered in blackness, and share century-old stories. My big ears consumed these stories like a thirsty desert after a long drought, so I could one day share this library of wisdom with others.

Shugri's book list on bringing other cultures to life

Discover why each book is one of Shugri's favorite books.

Why did Shugri love this book?

Iftin survived against incredible odds on his journey to America. His book picks up where mine left off and gives me insight into what happened after I fled Mogadishu with my family. Iftin describes in such vivid images the struggles he went through at the peak of the Somali civil war. Many of the places I roamed in Mogadishu as a teen were either dilapidated or turned into makeshift prison cells by Islamists. Iftin described an incident where he and a girl he loved were flogged for daring to show love outwardly. My home, where beautiful Somali women wearing colorful garments swung their hips with complete freedom as they walked to market, turned into a place and a people I no longer recognize.

By Abdi Nor Iftin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Call Me American as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop and watching action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies.

Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to…