My Booklist

  • English language learners everywhere can relate to these stories about children who themselves are learning English. Look for these books at the school library or local public library.

English Language Learners

  • Angelina's Island

    by Jeanette Winter Year Published:
    Every day, Angelina tells her mother she wants to go home. Not to their new city home, cold and gray and unfamiliar — but their old island home, sunny and colorful and filled with rainbow-colored fruits and birds. Angelina believes she'll never feel at home in this new place, until her mother finds a wonderful surprise in the newspaper. A beautiful tribute to the traditions of the West Indies, Carnival, and the longing for home that young immigrants will recognize immediately.
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  • Carmen Learns English

    by Judy Cox Year Published:
    Starting school can be especially frightening if you don't yet speak English. But Carmen is determined to learn English well in order to teach her little sister. With a supportive teacher and growing confidence, Carmen gradually learns the new language.
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  • Get Ready for Gabi: A Crazy Mixed Up Spanglish Day

    by Marisa Montes Year Published:
    Third grade Gabi speaks Spanish at home and English at school and sometimes "Spanglish" everywhere. Spanish and English combine naturally in Gabi's narration as the irrepressible, likable girl befriends a kindergartner who has moved from Nicaragua and as she controls her temper when teased by a classmate.
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  • Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong

    by Frances Park Year Published:

    "My heart beats in two places." So begins the tale of Jangmi, a young girl who is preparing to leave her home in Korea (382 Shin Dang Dong) for a new home in Massachusetts (112 Foster Terrace). Jangmi can't bear the thought of leaving her house, her favorite willow tree, the monsoon rains, and most of all, her best friend Kisuni. Jangmi's story and its hopeful conclusion will resonate with children who have left a beloved home or friend behind.

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  • Good-bye, Havana! Hola, New York!

    by Edie Colón Year Published:
    It is 1960 in Havana, and young Gabriella doesn't understand what the changes she sees around her in Cuba will mean until she boards a flight to New York to start a new life with her parents in the Bronx. New York is cold and busy; she doesn't speak any English, and she misses her grandparents. Slowly, however, she adapts to her new life, making friends and learning English along the way. The story is based on the childhood of Edie Colón (now an ESL teacher) and illustrated by her husband, Raúl.
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  • Home at Last

    by Susan Middleton Elya Year Published:
    When Ana's family comes to the U.S., she can tell that her mother misses their life and family in Mexico terribly. In addition, she doesn't want to learn English, and she relies on Ana and her husband to translate. Soon, however, Ana's mother realizes that English may be the key to finally feeling at home in her new country. A touching tribute to the children — and their parents — who have come to the U.S. for a better life.
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  • I Hate English!

    by Ellen Levine Year Published:
    Mei Mei loves to think and write and talk…in Chinese. But at her school in New York City, everything happens…in English. Mei Mei is afraid that if she starts speaking in English, she will lose all that she loves in Chinese, including her friends at home in Hong Kong. Will Mei Mei always hate English as much as she loves Chinese? A humorous and touching story about the difficulty of accepting a new language and home.
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  • In English, of Course

    by Josephine Nobisso Year Published:
    On the first day of school, Josephine must tell her new classmates in the Bronx about her native Italy. Even though she understands English, she keeps thinking of the words in Italian! Based on the childhood experiences of the author, this book offers a tribute to the many immigrant children who have built a new life in this country — in English, of course.
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  • Just Like Home

    by Elizabeth I. Miller Year Published:
    As a young girl begins to get used to her new life in the U.S., she compares everything around her to life back in her country. Some things — like sharing a big meal with her family — are just like home. Other things, however, like not being able to speak to her classmates easily, are not like home. The simple structure and colorful illustrations of the story provide an interesting model for immigrant or new students to compare one home to another.
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  • Lights for Gita

    by Rachna Gilmore Year Published:
    Gita is ready for the Hindu celebration of Divali, but she is afraid that it just won't be the same in her new home in Canada. When icy rain prevents the celebration they had planned, Gita becomes even more miserable, until she finds a way to light the darkness and remember Divali's true meaning.
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  • Moony Luna

    by Jorge Argueta Year Published:
    Five-year-old Luna is afraid she'll find monsters at her new school until a kind teacher and her new classmates show her that she has nothing to fear in this touching bilingual story.
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  • My Chinatown

    by Kam Mak Year Published:
    It's a New Year in Chinatown, but one little boy from Hong Kong wonders, "How can it ever be a good year thousands of miles from home?" As he moves through the seasons, however, New York finally begins to feel like home. Told in verse, these poems capture the challenges of adapting to a new life from a child's point of view. Vivid paintings with a photograph-like quality bring the poems to life.
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  • My Name Is Maria Isabel

    by Alma Flor Ada Year Published:
    For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn't call her by her real name. "We already have two Marías in this class," says her teacher. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" But María Isabel has been named for her Papá's mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she's lost the most important part of herself?
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  • My Name Is Yoon

    by Helen Recorvits Year Published:
    Yoon narrates the difficulty she experiences when her family moves to the United States from Korea. Her struggle with the transition focuses on the moment when she must learn to write her name in English rather than in Korean, and she remains resistant to learning a new language. Her imaginative voice is child-like and plausible, augmented by inventive illustrations.
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  • No English

    by Jacqueline Jules Year Published:
    No English is the story of two second-grade girls who become friends after overcoming a language barrier. Teachers and students alike will appreciate and empathize with both girls' struggles as they get to know each other and look for ways to communicate.
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  • One Green Apple

    by Eve Bunting Year Published:
    In this heartwarming story, Farah is trying to get used to a new country and language. She knows what's happening around her, but without the words to say what she's thinking in English, she feels alienated from her classmates. A trip to the apple orchard helps her begin to bridge those gaps, however, and she realizes that "Laughs sound the same as at home." As she practices her first "outside-myself word," she knows that she will be able to say more in time.
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  • Painted Words

    by Aliki Year Published:
    In Painted Words, Marianthe's paintings help her to become less of an outsider as she struggles to adjust to a new language and a new school. Under the guidance of her teacher, who understands that there is more than one way to tell a story, Mari makes pictures to illustrate the history of her family, and eventually begins to decipher the meaning of words.
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  • Sam and the Lucky Money

    by Karen Chinn Year Published:
    Sam can't believe that he has his very own lucky money to spend while walking through Chinatown's New Year celebrations! Perhaps some sweets…or sticky buns…or a new basketball? But when Sam meets an old homeless man on the street without any shoes, he realizes that perhaps there are more important things that he can do with his lucky money.
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  • Speak English for Us, Marisol!

    by Karen English Year Published:
    Marisol is rushing home from school to see to her cat, but on the way she's stopped by adult family members and neighbors who need her to translate from Spanish for them so that they can communicate with shopkeepers and officials in English. Whether she's helping Uncle Tomas bargain with the poultry man, showing her neighbor how to fill out an application form, or speaking for Mama about a problem with the telephone bureaucracy, Marisol translates the words and also interprets the messages across cultures.
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  • Sumi's First Day of School Ever

    by Soyoung Pak Year Published:
    When Sumi arrives at her big new school, she thinks that it is a lonely, scary, and mean place. Throughout the day, however, little things begin to change her mind and give her hope. An excellent portrayal of what the first day of school is like for both new students and ELLs.
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  • The Name Jar

    by Yangsook Choi Year Published:
    On the way to Unhei's first day of school, a group of kids on the school bus make fun of her name. When she gets to class, she refuses to tell anyone her name, deciding that she wants to choose an American name instead. The next morning, she finds a name jar filled with pieces of paper and finds that her classmates are eagerly awaiting to see which name Unhei will choose. Yangsook Choi (who chose the name Rachael as a child) offers a moving portrait of the importance of names and identity to all children.
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  • The Rainbow Tulip

    by Pat Mora Year Published:
    Stella and her brothers speak Spanish at home but English at school. Being different is both scary and exciting. Stella learns this when she prepares for the school's celebration of May Day. She finds a way to honor her Mexican background by wearing a special skirt that is both alike yet different from the other girls'. Stella, like many children, can take pride in being part of two cultures.
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  • When This World Was New

    by D.H. Figueredo Year Published:
    Danilito is excited about coming to America, but he is also scared — it is so different and cold, and he doesn't speak any English. Then he experiences his first snowfall. After feeling the snowflakes on his cheek and leaving footprints in the snow, he begins to feel a little more confident in this new country. Warm illustrations bring an immigrant family's journey, and their first snowfall, to life.
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  • Xochitl and the Flowers

    by Jorge Argueta Year Published:
    Though Xochitl and her family have put down new roots in the United States, Xochitl still misses the garden and flower shop they left behind in El Salvador. But when Xochitl's family decides to start a nursery and sell their flowers on the street, the sense of community they find makes them feel connected to their neighbors, and their decision to start a nursery and flower shop in their backyard helps the Flores family finally feels at home in its adopted country.
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  • Yoko Writes Her Name

    by Rosemary Wells Year Published:
    Yoko is ready for kindergarten! She can write her name, write numbers, and read stories. There is only one problem, though — she does it all in Japanese, and her classmates make fun of her scribbles. Can her new friend convince her that knowing a secret language isn't such a bad thing after all? Wells offers a loving, empathetic story that young ELLs will easily relate to, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a teacher who embraces her young student's native language in the classroom.
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  • A Party in Ramadan

    by Asma Mobin-Uddin Year Published:
    As Ramadan approaches, Leena is ready to fast with her family. Then she receives an invitation for a classmate's party on the same day of a special family meal to break the fast. Leena's decisions about fasting and the support she receives from her family and friends make this a wonderful story for talking about Ramadan.
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  • Arroz con Leche

    by Lulu Delacre Year Published:
    These traditional rhymes and songs from Latin America are presented in both English and Spanish. Gentle illustrations accompany the short verses, and show both cities and the countryside. Children and adults from Spanish-speaking backgrounds will recognize many of these fun songs and rhymes.
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  • I Love Saturdays y domingos

    by Alma Flor Ada Year Published:
    A girl visits both sets of grandparents on weekends. On Saturdays, she speaks English with Grandpa and Grandma, while on Sundays, los domingos, she speaks Spanish with Abeulito and Abeulita. The format provides a glimpse at the subtle differences between cultures and highlights their similarities, one of which is each set of grandparents' love for their granddaughter.
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  • In My Family

    by Carmen Garza Year Published:
    Kingsville, on the border of Mexico and Texas, comes to life in words and pictures in this book. Readers will share the simple joys of eating, dancing, and celebrating as the artist remembers her own childhood. Her stories, presented in both English and Spanish, are accompanied by her bright paintings.
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  • Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year

    by Kate Waters & Madeline Slovenz-Low Year Published:
    Ernie Wan is a young boy about to perform his first Lion Dance on the streets of New York City. This photo essay about Ernie and his family show scenes from their daily life, preparations for the dance, and the celebration itself. Ernie's excitement is contagious and the photos offer an authentic glimpse of Chinese New Year through a child's eyes.
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  • My First Ramadan

    by Karen Katz Year Published:
    "Look! There is the new moon in the sky." With this engaging opening, readers meet a young boy celebrating Ramadan. Bright illustrations and a child's perspective make this an excellent choice for introducing young children to Ramadan, Eid, and the shared celebrations of Muslims around the world.
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  • Nabeel's New Pants: An Eid Tale

    by Fawzia Gilani-Williams Year Published:
    As Nabeel prepares to celebrate Eid, he buys gifts for his family and a pair of new pants for himself. The pants, however, are four fingers too long and no one has time to shorten them…or so Nabeel thinks! A colorful, humorous version of a folk story familiar in many cultures which will serve as an entertaining read-aloud for young children.
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  • Rafi and Rosi: Carnival!

    Rafi and Rosi: Carnival!

    by Lulu Delacre Year Published:
    It's time for Carnival! Three short stories in this Easy Reader present the adventures shared by Rafi and Rosi, charming and mischievous young tree frogs who are brother and sister, and live in Puerto Rico. The stories include young Rosi dressing up in "Queen for a Day," as well as Rafi's "magical" periscope, used to watch the Carnival parade.
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  • The Day of Ahmed's Secret

    by Florence Parry Heide Year Published:
    As young Ahmed delivers butane gas to customers all over the city of Cairo, he thinks, I have a secret. All day long, as he maneuvers his donkey cart through streets crowded with cars and camels, down alleys filled with merchants' stalls, and past buildings a thousand years old, Ahmed keeps his secret safe inside. It is so special, so wonderful, that he can reveal it only to his family, only when he returns home, only at the end of the day.
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  • The Most Beautiful Place in the World

    by Ann Cameron Year Published:
    Now that Juan's mother has left him with his grandmother, he shines shoes to earn a living. More than anything else, though, 7-year old Juan wants to learn to read and go to school. Guatemala comes alive through the daily lives of Juan and his grandmother.
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  • This Next New Year

    by Janet Wong Year Published:
    Janet Wong shares a young boy's hopes and dreams for the New Year — he has had so much bad luck in the past year, but he is certain that this year will be much luckier! A heartwarming and honest portrayal of what the chance to start over means for all of us. An author's note provides insight into her background and this festive occasion.
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