Children, Families, and Immigration: Using Books to Support and Educate

Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Facilitator

It’s a challenging time for teachers. In the last few weeks, as executive orders to fund a border wall with Mexico and suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program have been handed down, educators are again in the position of not just explaining new rules and policies to students, but supporting those who are understandably worried for themselves and their families. Teachers must be prepared to address bias-based bullying, advocate for refugee and immigrant children and families, and create classroom environments that honor all identities.

That might seem like a daunting prospect, especially for elementary school teachers. High school students may be better able to articulate their thoughts and fears through academic conversation or writing, but elementary students experience the same anxiety without that kind of outlet. Fortunately, elementary educators have a “go-to” strategy for difficult situations: read-alouds. For teachers wanting to address issues concerning immigration as they pertain to children, Welcoming Schools has developed the following list: Books for Students: Children, Families, and Immigrants.

For younger children, consider sharing books about immigration and refugees with message of inclusion. The Color of Home, by Mary Hoffman, tells the story of first grade Somali refugee Hassan. Hassan struggles to adjust to a new language, culture, and home but finds an outlet through painting.

A chapter book, such as Julia Alvarez’s Return to Sender, is an excellent option for intermediate readers. Alvarez’s novel centers around the challenging friendship between the son of a farmer and the daughter of a migrant worker.

Inclusive read-alouds serve a dual purpose. They provide children with both mirrors and windows. Students should see themselves reflected in literature, and they should also have the opportunity to learn about those who are different. Read-alouds like those featured by Welcoming Schools simultaneously validate the experiences and identities of minority groups and provide opportunities for developing empathy and understanding. These days, all our students could use a lot more of that.

HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.

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MUNA Joins HRC’s Equality Rocks Campaign

American pop-funk band MUNA has joined HRC’s Equality Rocks campaign.

MUNA is made up of three queer women who are urging their listeners to be comfortable in their own skin. Since the group formed in 2013, they have been showing time and time again that an accepting, safe space can and does exist for the LGBTQ community.

MUNA has the ability to create radio-friendly music without ever shying away from important messages they want to depict. “I believe that there are people that listen to us and connect with our messages that will then go and create something even more important than what we’ve created,” said producer and synth-master Naomi McPherson to Advocate Magazine.

Their newest single “I Know A Place” was originally written in 2015 for Pride Week, the band “chose to imagine a place where none of us would need to be afraid,” lead singer Katie Gavin said in an interview with Time. “It was also meant to serve as encouragement for our community to remain vulnerable and kind and hopeful in the face of violence.” MUNA is actively trying to break barriers and HRC is happy to have their support!

The Equality Rocks campaign is sparking a conversation about love, fairness and equality around the globe. To join, visit

To tune into the artists who rock for equality, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Florence and the Machine, Phoenix, Sara Bareilles, Tegan and Sara, Sleater-Kinney, and Animal Collective, follow HRC on Spotify now.


Tap twice to thank pop-funk band MUNA (@WhereIsMuna) for joining HRC’s Equality Rocks campaign! #Muna #LGBT #LGBTQ #Equality #EqualityRocks #

A video posted by Human Rights Campaign (@humanrightscampaign) on Jan 3, 2017 at 1:54pm PST

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