Here are some additional ideas, resources, and book recommendations for teaching more about immigration.
Family History Project
Get kids involved by having them tell their own family's history. This can be as simple as writing a small paper or drawing a family tree to a more involved project with interviews, family member profiles and photos, and profiles of the countries their family members are from. I can even imagine posters all over a classroom, enabling kids to "show off " their families and heritage.
Online Immigration Lesson Plans and Resources:
Mr. Donn's Immigration Lesson Plans and Activities: A wealth of activities for elementary to high school students. Some links are broken, but the ones that do work look interesting.
Interactive Tour of Ellis Island: I had way too much fun with this site from Scholastic that features audio, video, and photographs.
Port of Entry Lesson Plan: An interesting lesson for students in grades 6-12. Students become historical detectives as they learn about immigration in the United States.
Hannah is My Name written and illustrated by Belle Yang
This book tells the story of a Taiwanese family who has immigrated to San Francisco. We follow Hannah as she starts school, learns English, and adjusts to life in a new country.
The Name Jar Written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi
This book follows Unhei (pronounced Yoon-hye), a young Korean girl who has just immigrated to the United States as she struggles with selecting a new name or sticking with her birth name which means "grace." As a former ESL teacher, this story is all too familiar, and I wish I would have had it in my classroom when I was teaching.
The Keeping Quilt Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
I'm a long time fan of this book and of Polacco's work. In this true story, a quilt is made from the clothing of a Russian-Jewish immigrant family and is passed along from generation to generation, from the time Polacco's Great-Gramma Anna arrives from Russia to the present. We see the quilt being used for many things along the way: a tablecloth, swaddling for newborn babies, and much more.
At Home in a New Land written and illustrated by Joan Sandin
This story follows Swedish boy, Carl Erik as he adjusts to a new life in Minnesota in the mid-1800's. A good choice for beginning readers, we see Carl Erik face ridicule from his classmates and struggle with the pressure of providing food for his family.
Annushka's Voyage written by Edith Tarbescu and illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich
This is the story of Annushka and her younger sister who leave Russia with their father and move to New York. We follow their journey on a crowded ship to their arrival at Ellis Island. This is an especially moving story that had me experiencing a range of emotions.
At Ellis Island: A History in Many Voices written by Louise Peacock and illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop
Better suited for kids in the 7-10 range, this book features the voices of a number of immigrants. The most compelling, I think, is the true story of 10-year old Sura who fled the genocide in Armenia in the early 20th century.
Home of the Brave written by Katherine Applegate
This is gut-wrenching story of a Sudanese boy who witnessed the murder of his father and brother. Leaving his mother behind to live with his aunt in Minnesota, we see the boy go through the gamut of emotions as he faces racism, lives with guilt, and adjusts to a new life. I highly recommend this book, especially since it puts a face on what's happening in the world today.
Capstone Press's You Choose Series
There are three new books about immigration in this interactive series "choose your own adventure" style. I'm including these books because I think they will be a hit with kids and appeal to reluctant readers.
Chinese Immigrants in America: An Interactive History Adventure Written by Kelley Hunsicker
From publisher: "Describes the experiences of Chinese immigrants upon arriving in the
German Immigrants in America: An Interactive History Adventure written by Elizabeth Raum
From the publisher: "Describes the experiences of German immigrants upon arriving in
Written by Elizabeth Raum (Kevin Kenny Contributor)
From the publisher: "YOU are a young Irish immigrant moving to
Young Adult Selections
The Arrival written by Shaun Tan
the only words in this book are from an invented alphabet. In the book, an immigrant leaves his family behind to start a new life in a new country. Haunting, emotional, hopeful…these are only a few words to describe this captivating book.
Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers written by Marina Budhos
This book features Budhos' interviews with 20 immigrant teenagers across the country. A moving book that tells the teenagers' first hand accounts of struggling with being different, adjusting to a new culture, and fitting in with their peers.