Written by Tirzah Jane Baker
To celebrate the launch of the New-York Historical Society’s Citizenship Project, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite picture books about immigration. The Citizenship Project provides free civics courses and online resources for adult green card holders, but we have plenty of upcoming family programs for kids, too! Each week this May at Sunday Story Time, we are celebrating the many kinds of peoples and cultures that make up the United States .
Check out books from our collection below and stop by our Children’s Library to read them!
- Abuela by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Elisa Kleven
In this sweet tale, a grandmother tells her immigration story to her granddaughter as they fly over New York City. Abuela and Rosabla fly past docks, the Statue of Liberty, and even tia Elisa and tió Pablo’s bodega. This book includes Spanish phrases with English text and vibrant illustrations.
Join us on May 14 at 11:30 am for Sunday Story Time to hear Abuela read aloud!
2. Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch
Hiromi’s Hands is the true story of Hiromi Suzuki, one of the world’s first female sushi chefs. Hiromi narrates her family’s story of immigrating to New York City and her determination to learn her father’s art of sushi-making. This story about defying gender stereotypes reminds us that you can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it!
Join us on May 21 at 11:30 am to hear Hiromi’s Hands at Sunday Story Time.
3. Beautiful Yetta The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
Beautiful Yetta escapes from a butcher shop and finds herself lost in Brooklyn. She encounters all kinds of strange things like giant rats, a speeding bus, and an alley cat. Yetta is eventually adopted by a family of parrots and learns to love her new life in New York City. This whimsical story includes cartoon dialogue in English, Yiddish, and Spanish.
4. When Everybody Wore a Hat by William Steig
William Steig was a celebrated New York City cartoonist, author, and illustrator, best known for his children’s book Shrek!, which inspired the DreamWorks animated film series. When Everybody Wore a Hat is a reflection of Steig’s childhood as the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants from Austria. Through his comical anecdotes and quirky illustrations, he captures the feeling of being a young boy in 1916.
Join us at on May 16 or 19 for Little New-Yorkers, a weekly story and craft time for preschool age children and their caregivers. We will read When Everybody Wore a Hat and children will make their own paper hat to wear home!
5. When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Jessie leaves her family and home in Eastern Europe for a better life in America. This coming-of-age story follows Jessie as she sails to New York, passes through Ellis Island, and creates a new life on the Lower East Side.
Join us on May 7 at 11:30 am for Sunday Story Time to hear When Jessie Came Across the Sea read aloud!