Stories from the Border: Books & Films

These books and films offer an excellent way to get to know the children who are traveling north to the border and beyond, as well as their reasons for making the difficult journey. We have included books for children and adults, related classroom materials, documentaries, and a feature film.

In addition, be sure to take a look at our video interview with Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey.

Immigration Booklists

For books about life along the border and families who have crossed the border, see these titles for children and young adults. They can be shared with unaccompanied children themselves or with peers and classmates as a way to help encourage discussion and answer questions.

Note: It's also important for unaccompanied children to have access to age-appropriate books about a wide range of topics, whether through schools or libraries. Many communities are hosting book drives to help in this way.

Featured Titles: Unaccompanied Children

Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother (Adapted for Young Adults) by Sonia Nazario

 

In 2007, Los Angeles Times reporter Sonia Nazario published Enrique's Journey, a book based on her Pulitzer-Prize winning reports about a teenage boy's harrowing trip north to the U.S. from Honduras to find his mother, who had immigrated to the U.S. eleven years earlier. Sonia, who retraced Enrique's steps through Central America, has now published a Young Adult version of the compelling and gritty book adapted for readers 12 and older.

This edition includes photos, notes on her journey, and updates on her current communication on Enrique and his family. Additional resources and materials related to the book and Enrique's family can be found below:

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Sonia is a miner's daughter in Tres Montes. Born under the most unusual circumstances, she's believed to have special powers to heal and save. But what if it's all a lie? What is she willing to risk in order to have a future on her own terms?

With deeply realized characters and a hint of magical realism, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strongwilled, warmhearted girl who dares to face life's harsh truths as she finds her real power, highlighting the risks young people will take to find a better future.

See the related discussion guide on Meg Medina's website.

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

 

When the rains don't come in the spring, Papá Rabbit sets out north to work in the carrot and lettuce fields. He doesn't return when expected, however, and his eldest son, Pancho Rabbit, embarks on a journey to find his father. He meets a coyote who agrees to show him a shortcut, but only in exchange for Pancho's food. After an exhausting journey on top of trains, crossing the Rio Grande, and into the desert, Pancho is left with nothing — except the hope of finding his father.

This allegorical tale shines a light on the experiences of many immigrant families who travel north, including the dangerous coyoteros (smugglers) who work along the border. An author's note provides extensive information and recommended resources, and this blog post from Duncan Tonatiuh offers book trailers and related information.

Classroom Connection: Bilingual Literature Study of Immigration Stories

This unit of study created by teacher Caroline Sweet takes students through eight picture books that deal with immigration journeys or issues immigrants face in a new country, including Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale. It is designed to reflect the stories of immigrant children in today's classroom. Various skills include vocabulary, inferencing, predicting, and identifying similes and metaphors, as well as Common Core skills such as identifying point of view, summarizing literary texts, and identifying the theme of the text.

Note: This unit is available through the website Teachers Pay Teachers for a fee of $8.00.

Films

These films tell the stories of children who are making the trip to el norte (The North) and provide a first-hand account of that dangerous journey.

Preview: Children In No Man's Land