Sort of But Not Exactly We Recommend: Books for Immigrants and Detainees

I don't even want to write the usual intro here, because this seems too important, but I will say that if you or someone you know is looking for a book for a specific person or on a specific subject, we are here for you. Just email thediamondinthewindow(at)gmail(dot)com, and ask away. And while we try to recommend great books, you, our readers, have the best recommendations, so look in the comments.

Well here we are, in a world full of confusing and terrifying things, as the world has long been for children, but now we've added in some extra horrors specific (but not unique) to our time and place: having the government bust up your family. Here's what happened: my sister, a social worker, wrote to me recently, about trying to find books to read to the kids she works with about their fears that their parents will be deported.




That last one, in case you're looking for a good cry that won't destroy you, is about a cat that got separated from a family fleeing Mosul, and then was reunited with them by aid workers. In case you forgot that some people are out there doing amazing work—an easy thing to forget. My sister then wrote this:

So I am looking for recommendations for books for families to read together to help discuss fears related to immigration status and deportation. The book about the cat does not exactly fit the mold, but I just loved it anyway. Another one that is more generally about dealing with children's fears and separation anxiety is The Invisible String. When I read it to immigrant children they always start to talk about their relatives back home. But I would love to hear other suggestions and ideas.

She works with younger kids, so picture books would be great, but if you know of middle grade books, nonfiction, YA—any of it, throw it in there in the comments.

Chestnut offers up this, which is about a girl separated from her parents, who goes out in search of them:


But Silver Dollar Girl isn't about the fear so much, and it's for older kids. And what kills me is that all the picture books I can think of are about little kids fearing their parents are gone, but then they come back. So please, my wonderful readers: do you have any books for her?


3 thoughts on “Sort of But Not Exactly We Recommend: Books for Immigrants and Detainees

  1. Mama, Across the Sea is one that I have seen at our local library. The child in this book is in the home country while the mother has emigrated for work, so not exactly what your sister’s kiddos are experiencing, but maybe a story that would resonate.


  2. American Street by Ibi Zoboi. I haven’t read this book, or other books by the author, but she is a parent at my kids’ school and this is just coming out. Here’s the blurb from her website: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—the good life. But after leaving Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud, American cousins—Chantal, Donna and Princess—the grittiness of Detroit’s west side, a new school, and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola must learn that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


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