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According to the I Am an Immigrant website, Immigration Heritage Month began in 2014. The purpose is to prompt people throughout the United States to explore their own heritage, celebrate “the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America” and “the monumental contributions that immigrants have made – and continue to make every day.”
How Can You Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month?
As a nation of immigrants we have a duty to learn more about our shared American heritage. Most of the people in our country either came from another land or have ancestors who did. In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, let’s all take the time to explore the stories of the people that make up this great land we call the United States of America.
The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to our way of life — it is in our DNA. We believe our diversity, our differences, when joined together by a common set of ideals, makes us stronger, makes us more creative, makes us different. From all these different strands, we make something new here in America. ~ President Barack Obama, July 4, 2014
Read, watch and listen to immigrant and refugee stories:
The story of Emma Lazarus, who, despite her life of privilege, became a tireless advocate for the immigrants who arrived in New York City in the 1880s and wrote a famous poem for the Statue of Liberty.
As a Muslin immigrant to the country who can hardly speak the native language of her new land, Farah feels like an outsider amongst her classmates, but when they all go to a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah finally sees many similarities to the world she left behind and, through her observations and shared experiences, begins to feel like one of the gang.
Kofi can’t sleep in his new home in the United States, so his older sister Abena soothes his fears about life in a different country by telling him two folktales from their native Ghana about the nature of wisdom and perseverance.
With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leaves their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. This book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
A little girl eases the pain of her separation from her mother, who is being held in an immigration detention center, by listening to her mother’s readings of Haitian folktales, which inspire her to write her own story.
Lola was just a baby when her family left the Island, so when she has to draw it for a school assignment, she asks her family, friends, and neighbors about their memories of her homeland…and in the process, comes up with a new way of understanding her own heritage.
When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. This poignant story of identity and belonging will help young readers understand the plight of the millions of children in the world who are refugees.
In parallel stories, a Ukrainian Jewish family prepares to immigrate to the United States in the late 1800s, and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi designs, raises funds for, and builds the Statue of Liberty in honor of the United States’ centennial.
Poems describe a young Jamaican immigrant’s new experiences as she faces life in the United States, including hearing new languages, loneliness, and visiting Washington, D.C., the circus, and a library.
Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.
Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.
Lushly illustrated with evocative imagery, a poignant tale about a young Holocaust survivor finds her struggling to survive, rebuild and come to terms with the losses of her family and everything she knew after being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, a situation that is complicated by her growing feelings for a fellow survivor.
Racing to freedom with thousands of other refugees as Russian forces close in on their homes in East Prussia, Joana, Emilia, and Florian meet aboard the doomed Wilhelm Gustloff and are forced to trust each other in order to survive.
In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.
The story of Ariel, a Middle Eastern refugee who lives with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber, the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century, and a depressed, bionic reincarnated crow.
Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.
Separated from her detained mother after moving from Haiti to America, Fabiola struggles to navigate the home of her loud cousins and a new school on Detroit’s gritty west side, where a surprising romance and a dangerous proposition challenge her ideas about freedom.
A portrait of the immigrant experience follows the Ganguli family from their traditional life in India through their arrival in Massachusetts in the late 1960s and their difficult melding into an American way of life.
The epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges.
In 1939 New York City, Joe Kavalier, a refugee from Hitler’s Prague, joins forces with his Brooklyn-born cousin, Sammy Clay, to create comic-book superheroes inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams.
Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by a first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.
In a novel about being an outsider in America and what it means to be an American, Vladimir, a young Russian-American immigrant, pursues his dreams of success, wealth, and a girlfriend, as his quest takes him deep into uncharted territory.
A moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told.
A journalist chronicles the next chapter in civil rights—the story of a movement and a nation, witnessed through the poignant and inspiring experiences of five young undocumented activists who are transforming society’s attitudes toward one of the most contentious political matters roiling America today: immigration.
An urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration follows the harrowing journey of a pair of teenaged twins from El Salvador who were forced by gang violence to see safety and a better life in the United States, an endeavor marked by family estrangement, a mounting coyote debt and America’s complicated immigration policies.
A Princeton University salutatorian describes his experiences as an undocumented immigrant youth in New York City, relating his efforts as a scholarship student in a private school that sharply contrasted with his street life in East Harlem.
Where the Wind Leads is the remarkable account of Vinh Chung and his refugee family’s daring escape from communist oppression for the chance of a better life in America. It’s a story of personal sacrifice, redemption, endurance against almost insurmountable odds, and what it truly means to be American.
Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil’s Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds.
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
This work aimed at young readers reviews the century of 1820 through 1920, in which there were two waves of immigration to the United States. This book discusses the varied motivations and nationalities of these new Americans, as well as the effects of mass immigration on the country as a whole, and the rise of antiforeign sentiments among more recent immigrants.
Geared towards young readers, “This Land is Our Land” explores the history of how immigration has shaped America exploring the ways government policies and popular responses to immigrant groups have evolved in the country, particularly between 1800 and 1965, and includes a profile of how today’s immigration has become a hot-button issue.
A lively, visual portrait of the arrival of immigrants in America captures the many diverse peoples and cultures that have made American their home, as well as the important influence of these various cultures on the evolution of American history and society.
Season one of this compelling documentary series chronicles the massive immigration patterns of ethnic groups to the United States, anchored by interviews with descendants of ancestors and geographical imagery that showcases the history of how America was populated.
In this touching tale of young friendship Ellie, a 12-year-old Israeli immigrant, and Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee, form a powerful bond that helps Ellie cope with the hardships of adjusting to her new life in the states.
In 2006, Rebecca Cammisa received a Fulbright Scholar Grant to travel to Mexico to document the plight of the children left behind when their families travel to the United States to find work. This Oscar®-nominated film is the result of her journey.
A gripping tale of courage, love, and perseverance, revolving around a Middle Eastern man’s dream to become an American citizen and the prejudice and barriers he faces on his journey to attain the American dream.
In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in the New York Times Magazine. “Documented” chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in person in over 20 years.