Immigrants have, and continue to make a lasting impact on the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Discover biographies and picture books that tell the stories of how American immigrants have fought for civil rights. These books about immigrant civil rights will help introduce ELLs and all students to the important contributions of these individuals.
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Speak Up– This is a simple book with a powerful message. It encourages children to take action themselves if they see examples of injustice. At the end are short descriptions of children activists.
Immigrant Civil Rights Biographies
Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children– Jacob Riis grew up in poverty. As an adult, he became a photojournalist and used his skills and the new technology of the camera to document the poor living conditions in tenement homes. This helped bring about needed change.
Dolores Huerta: Labor Activist– Learn about Dolores Huerta in this simple to read biography. She worked as a teacher and activist to help migrant workers.
Cesar Chavez (Little Biographies of Big People)– Cesar Chavez was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his family as a child. First, his family worked as migrant workers. Then, due to poor working conditions, he advocated for worker’s rights. This book is a level J reading level.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation– In this picture book students will learn about the story of Sylvia Mendez. Her family helped fight for the right for California schools to be desegregated.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré– Learn about Pura Belpré who immigrated to Puerto Rico and settled in New York City. She found a job working as a bilingual library assistant. Then, she discovered that there were not and Spanish books available. So she began writing books herself. She became an advocate for bilingual education.
Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido De Lemon Grove/A Ballad of Lemon Grove– Learn about the story of Roberto Alvarez and other Mexican American children of Lemon Grove, California. In 1930 the school board decided to create a separate school for the Mexican American children. Juan Gonzalez helped organize the families to protest the segregated school. This bilingual picture book follows the families as they testify in court and help their children rejoin their peers in school.
Welcome to the New World– In this graphic novel, follow the story of the Aldabaan family as they immigrate to the United States from Syria. Soon after their arrival, Trump’s Muslim ban goes into effect leaving the rest of their family in a refugee camp in Jordan. The family works hard to make a new life and works against discrimination.