High School Immigration Reads

Here's a great list created by Holly Samuels, the librarian at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, on immigration (published with her permission):

Immigration Bibliography

*most popular choices


An American Brat / Sidhwa, Bapsi (Pakistani girl sent to live with her uncle at MIT)

Ashes of Roses / Auch, Mary Jane (Irish immigrant girl in New York in 1911)

Behind the Mountains / Edwidge Danticat (immigration narrative, easier)

Becoming Mary Mehan / Jennifer Armstrong (Irish immigrant, during Civil War)

*Breath, Eyes, Memory / Edwidge Danticat (Haitian immigration)

*Born Confused / Tanuja Desai Hidier (Indian American- contemporary)

Chantrea Conway’s Story: A Voyage From Cambodia in 1975 / Clare Pastore (part of the series “Journey to America”)

*Children of the River / Linda Crew (Cambodian girl flees her war-torn country)

The Dew Breakers / Edwige Danticat (Ex-Haitian secret police living in New York confronts his haunted past)

Donald Duk / Frank Chin (Chinese American life)

Dreaming in Cuban / Cristina Garcia (Cuban family in exile, challenging)

Esperanza Rising / Pam Muñoz Ryan (Mexican girl immigrates in 1930s, easier)

*Fresh Girl / Placide, Jaira (Haitian immigrant girl in New York displeases her strict family)

*Grab Hands and Run / Frances Temple (Salvadoran refugees, easier)

Habibi / Naomi Shihab Nye (Palestinian/ American girl immigrates from America to Jerusalem, easier)

House of Sand and Fog / Andre Dubus (Iranian immigrant, challenging)

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents / Julia Alvarez (Dominican refugees)

Hundred Secret Senses / Amy Tan (Conflict between 2 very different Chinese American sisters

Joy Luck Club / Amy Tan (Chinese American, more challenging)

Kitchen God’s Wife / Amy Tan (Chinese American, more challenging)

*Last Cannoli / Camille Cusumano (Italian American family life, humorous)

Letters from Rifka / Karen Hesse (Ellis Island story, easier)

Line of the Sun / Judith Ortiz Cofer (Puerto Rican immigrant)

Lucy / Jamaica Kincaid (West Indian teen becomes nanny for New York family)

Namesake / Jhumpa Lahiri (Indian American boy struggles with his name and identity)

Nilda / Nicholasa Mohr (Puerto Rican girl in New York during WWII)

*Red Midnight / Ben Mikaelson (Guatemalan refugee, easier)

*A Step from Heaven / An Na (Korean American, contemporary)

Streets of Gold / Marie Raphael (Polish immigrants in early 1900s, easier)

Yokohama, California / Toshi Mori (Japanese-American life pre-World War II)

Short Story Collections

American Eyes: New Asian American Short Stories for Young Adults / Lori M. Carlson, editor

The Boy without a Flag: Tales from the South Bronx / Abraham Rodriguez

The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora in America/ Edwige Danticat

Growing Up Chicano: An Anthology / Tiffany Ann Lopez, editor

Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction about Learning to be American / Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, editors

Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States/ Nicolås Kanellos, editor

Interpreter of the Maladies: Stories / Jhumpa Lahiri (East Indian Americans)

Join In: Multiethnic Short Stories / Donald R. Gallo, editor

*Krik? Krak! / Edwidge Danticat (Haitian Americans)

Passage to Ararat / Michael Arlen (Armenian-American’s search for identity)

Prentice Hall Anthology of Latino Literature / Eduardo del Rio


Tis / Frank McCourt (Irish immigrant in New York City)

*Angela’s Ashes / Frank McCourt (Growing up in Ireland)

***Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. / Luis Rodriguez (Mexican American)

Black Cuban, Black American: A Memoir / Evelio Grillo

Border Trilogy ( Mexican-American Immigration Experience, challenging):
  • Across the Wire / Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Lake of Sleeping Children / Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life / Luis Alberto Urrea
China Men / Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese Americans)

***Down These Mean Streets / Piri Thomas (Puerto Rican in New York)

Escape From Slavery / Francis Bok (Sudanese man tells his modern story)

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez / Richard Rodriguez (contemporary, challenging)

Kinship: A family’s Journey in Africa and American / Philippe E. Wamba

Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano’s Coming-of-Age in America / Gustavo Perez Frimat

Nisei Daughter / Monica Sone (Japanese American girl living in an internment camp)

Paper Daughter / Elaine Mar (Chinese American, contemporary)

Quiet Odyssey / May Paik Lee (Korean American)

Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American / Jean-Robert Cadet

Teenage Refugees from Ethiopia Speak Out / LaDena Schnapper (many countries covered in this series, short testimonials from different teens in each book; supplementary reading)

West of Kabul, East of New York / Tamim Ansary (Afghan American)

***When I was a Puerto Rican / Esmeralda Santiago (Growing up in rural Puerto Rico and New York City)

Woman Warrior / Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese American)