16 Books that Build Empathy for Refugees, Immigrants, and Marginalized Voices


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

It has never been more important to build empathy for all of humanity, and we know that characters are some of the best teachers we can give our students.

The following novels help a secondary classroom include more voices from around the world that are historically underrepresented in literature, AND they can help broaden the perspectives of students who are trying to understand the world in a very confusing time.



These titles vary in length, difficulty, genre (including dystopia!), and level of maturity. Some books are appropriate for middle school, and others have more mature content and would be better in a high school setting.

NOTE: To read the book talk for each novel, click on the Instagram handle of the person who recommended it.

1. All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
Recommended by @secondarysara. Link to Amazon

2. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Recommended by @nouvelle_ela. Link to Amazon

3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Recommended by @elaclassroom. Link to Amazon.

4. I am Malala (Young Reader's Edition) by Malala Yousafzai
Recommended by @erinbeers. Link to Amazon

5. Refugee by Alan Gratz
Recommended by @elaeveryday. Link to Amazon

6. My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
Recommended by @readingandwritinghaven. Link to Amazon

7. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Recommended by @ebcamps. Link to Amazon

8. Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Recommended by @hansonhallway. Link to Amazon

9. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Recommended by @mrsspanglerinthemiddle. Link to Amazon

10. Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
Recommended by @theliterarymaven. Link to Amazon

11. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Recommended by @mrsorman. Link to Amazon

12. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Recommended by @2peasandadog. Link to Amazon

13. A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah
Recommended by @theclassroomsparrow. Link to Amazon

14. My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Recommended by @studyallknight. Link to Amazon

15. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Recommended by @prestoplans. Link to Amazon

16. The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Recommended by @literarysherri. Link to Amazon


What other books would you recommend? 
Tell us in the comments!


2 comments

  1. Definitely Enrique's Journey Young Adult Version. At my school we teach a whole unit on Immigration and Change around this book. I teach just south of the Texas border and we deal with the issue in real life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love all the suggestions and diversity in this list. I would recommend "The Grass Dancer" by Susan Power as well.

    ReplyDelete