Read with Your Child and Learn about Being and Becoming a Citizen Together!
Becoming a U.S. Citizen is an important milestone for many immigrant families that are forced to flee their homes to escape poverty, crime or various forms of persecution. There are many benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen including civic participation, the right to vote, freedom to worship as you wish, freedom to express yourself and overall more opportunities for a safer and healthier life. These benefits extend to receiving communities as many immigrants enrich and invest in their communities.
CLINIC’s Center for Immigrant Integration has compiled a list of books for young readers to learn about the importance of diversity, the journeys that many immigrant families take to the United States and the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen. For more information on Citizenship Week, online tools and materials visit CLINIC’s Center for Immigrant Integration.
Books for young readers:
I Pledge Allegiance
Written by Pat Mora
Many U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance after being sworn in as citizens.
“Mom and I will go with my great aunt to a special place. She will say the Pledge of Allegiance, and she will become a citizen of the United States.”
W is for Welcome: A Celebration of America’s Diversity
Written by Brad Herzog
Did you know Albert Einstein was a naturalized citizen? Follow this alphabet book to read about the land of the free and the many people who contributed to make the United States “a dreamer’s destination.”
“A is for America, a dreamer’s destination, made up of people who are here due to immigration.”
A Very Important Day
Written by Maggie Rugg Herold
As snow begins to fall, 11 families, all from different countries, trek through New York City to take their oath of citizenship!
“This has become our country on this very important day.”
Being a Good Citizen
Written by Mary Small, Illustrated by Stacey Previn
It is everyone’s responsibility to make our communities a great place to live! Through colorful illustrations and simple ideas, this book shows kids the best way they can be good citizens, starting with performing good deeds and helping others.
“Jenna works as a crossing guard to help keep people and animals safe. She is being a good citizen.”
D is for Democracy
Written by Elissa Grodin, Illustrated by Victor Juhasz
Being a citizen of the United States comes with many freedoms and responsibilities. This book uses the letters of the alphabet to teach children about the government and historical events that have shaped our society.
“I is for immigration. Tired of all the strife, people leave their homes to find a better life.”
Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers, Illustrated by Shawn Harris
The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of American culture. This hilarious tale shares how she came to the United States and the mystery of her right foot! Children will learn that we are united by the values of freedom and liberty.
“Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest.”
If I Ran for President
Written by Catherine Stier, Illustrated by Lynne Avril
Being the President of the United States is a very important job. Because almost anyone can run for the highest office in the land, it’s never too early to learn how democracy works! Children will learn they can do whatever they put their mind to, and may be inspired to start putting their platform together.
“On Election Day, millions of voters from across the country go to their polling places to ‘cast their ballot’. That’s another way to say that they vote.”
Mama the Alien/ Mama la Extraterrestre
Written by Rene Colato, Illustrated by Laura Lacamara
One day Sofía finds a strange card in her mom’s purse and thinks to herself, could my mamá be an alien? Take the journey with Sofía as she tries to figure out if her mom might be from another planet, while her parents get ready for a mysterious event! Enjoy this imaginative tale, in Spanish and English, and laugh with your kids.
“The card had Mamá’s name on it. I read the big blue word at the top: ALIEN. I could not believe it. Mamá was an alien—¡una extraterrestre!”
One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote
Written by Bonnie Worth, Illustrated by Aristidis Ruiz and Joe Mathieu
You’ve never seen the Cat in the Hat like this before! Revisit the classic rhymes of Dr. Seuss and learn how democracy works in United States.
“We vote for class president, and which snack to get, where to go on class trip, what to pick as class pet.”
What Can a Citizen Do?
Written by Dave Eggers, Illustrated by Shawn Harris
Humor and vivid illustrations take young people on an inspiring journey, highlighting the responsibilities everyone share in creating a welcoming community.
“A citizen’s not what you are—a citizens is what you do. A citizen cannot forget the world is more than you.”
What is Citizenship?
Written by Laura Loria
The citizenship process can be hard to understand, even for adults! This book uses comprehensive vocabulary and detailed descriptions to help readers learn what citizenship is, how immigrants can become citizens and ways that U.S. citizens can be good citizens.
“Volunteering is a great way to help your community. Good citizens work together to make their country a better place to live."
We The Kids
Written and Illustrated by David Catrow
Vivid illustrations help kids relate to each phrase of the preamble to the United States Constitution. Children are encouraged to think for themselves and discover what these words mean for them.
“Insure domestic tranquility: To make sure we can all have a nice life and get along with one another.”
Books for adult readers:
Democracy in America
Written by Alexis de Tocqueville
Many immigrants and refugees flee their home countries to escape political persecution. Others seek refuge in the United States because of our democratic values and will to help others in need.
Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish Speaking United States
Written by Héctor Tobar
Tobar begins with his family’s story of growing up in Los Angeles and interpreting the “American identity” through a Latin American lens. He reflects on two different paths taken by his brothers. As one pursues his U.S. citizenship, the other goes down a complex and unlawful path. Meanwhile, Tobar explores the country and is confronted by “familiar complexities.”
The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence: The Constitution of the United States of America
Written by The Founding Fathers
The backbone of the United States government — all citizens should have this book on their list!
Out Of Many, One: The Immigrant’s Story
Watch on Netflix
“True to its founding Identity, the United States is still a nation of immigrants.” Follow the journey of a group of people, who represent the rich diversity of immigrates in the United States, as they prepare to become U.S. citizens.