Picture Books About the Immigrant Experience

For children who are immigrants to the United States, seeing themselves reflected in stories can be a valuable experience. They may be able to relate to the titular character in Mustafa who finds it difficult to communicate and make new friends. Like the girl in Saffron Ice Cream who misses saffron ice cream and trips to Iranian beaches, they may long for things from their old countries. Some of these books like Dreamers and Marwan’s Journey focus on the voyage itself and the adjustment to new countries.

Despite the struggles the children face in these stories, readers can always find a hopeful message. Mustafa makes a new friend, the girl in Saffron Ice Cream discovers she loves American beaches and ice cream just as much as Iranian ones, and the mother in Dreamers finds solace and understanding in a library.

For children who have not personally experienced immigration, these books can be a great opportunity to develop empathy and learn about the experiences of others. They can be used to talk about the voyages of generations past and how to welcome new friends from other countries.

The Day You Begin

Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself, but later he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider. You can also check out this title as an eBook or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.

Marwan's Journey

The story of a young boy forced to take a journey he never intended to take, bound for a place he doesn’t know.


After leaving his war-torn country with his family, Mustafa visits a park near his new home and finds beautiful flowers, lady bugs, fall leaves, and finally, a friend.

Saffron Ice Cream

Rashin is excited about her first visit to the beach in her family’s new home. On the way there, she remembers what beach trips were like in Iran, the beautiful Caspian Sea, the Persian music, and most of all the saffron ice cream she shared with her best friend, Azadeh. But there are wonderful things in this new place as well — a subway train, exciting music…and maybe even a new friend!