Core Curriculum - Fifth Grade


The Iron Dragon That Never Sleeps
by Stephen Krensky, ISBN: 044041136X, Yearling
This book bridges the gap of immigration and pioneering. The story of the Chinese workers on the Central Pacific railroad matching with the story of the men who had to leave their homes and families to build the railroad. A friendship between the daughter of a railroad engineer and a Chinese worker is the central theme of the story.

Molly's Pilgrim (modern immigration)
by Barbara Cohen, illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy, ISBN: 0688162800, Beech Tree
The story of Molly, a Russian, immigrant to attends school in American. Her ways are not understood and other girls make fun of the way she dresses. At Thanksgiving time the teacher asks the students to make pilgrim dolls, everyone makes Pilgrim dolls except Molly, whose doll is dressed as a Russian pilgrim. Understanding of the word pilgrim gets a new meaning and Molly's odd ways are no longer odd but understood. With understanding come friends.

Dragon's Gate
by Laurence Yep, ISBN: 059020355X, Scholastic
An accident forces Otter to flee his home in China (the Middle Kingdom), so he flees to California to work with his Father and Uncle, where they are working on the Transcontinental Railroad in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Chinese workers are little more than slaves as the great railroad goes forward. Otter must now fight for his own survival with brutal working conditions, bitter cold, and even more bitter disappointments. This book gives a wonderful comparison between Otter's life as a well-to-do boy in China and a hard-working Chinese worker in the United States.

The Orphan of Ellis Island
by Elvira Woodruff, ISBN: 0590482467, Scholastic
This novel is a time-travel adventure book, and the story of Dominic Cantori. While on a field trip with his class to Ellis Island, Dominic once again feels like the outsider, because everyone is being asked to tell about their families, and he is an orphan. He runs and hides to avoid the question, and falls asleep. He awakens to a darkened, empty museum, and begins to explore. He was frightened, so picked up a phone to listen to a recorded story of one of the original immigrants. He discovers that the voice is actually talking to him. He is assured that he is safe, and eventually Dominic finds himself transported to Italy in the year 1908. Ultimately the experience he has gives him a sense of family, of belonging, and of pride for his heritage. The story covers the mass immigration of Italians to America from 1880 to 1914, through the eves of Dominic Cantori.

Watch the Stars Come Out (picture books)
by Riki Levinson and illustrated by Diane Goode, ISBN: 0140555064, Scholastic
Grandmother tells a story about how she and her brother came across the ocean on a steamship from Russia. This easy to read book gives a vivid description of how she could not see the stars at night while she was on the ship. The joy returned when she was at her destination with her mom and dad in a new place and she could see the stars.

Grandfather's Journey
by Allen Say, ISBN: 0395570352, Houghton Mifflin
Grandfather leaves Japan and comes to America. He travels across America and sees many wonderful things but he is homesick for Japan. He travels back to Japan and loves the old familiar sights but he longs for America. WWII stops him from returning to America but his grandson travels there and he too longs for Japan. He finally understands how his grandfather feels.

Note: Beautiful pictures, full of emotion.

Ellis Island
by R. Conrad Stein, ISBN: 0516466534, Children's Press
The story of the immigration wave that came through Ellis Island is told in words and pictures. This short book is easy to read but direct in the account of what it was like to stop at Ellis Island on your way to the U.S.A. It answers the questions, What would happen if you were turned away? What did you need to enter the U.S.A.? and Who came to Ellis Island?

The Great Migration (picture book)
by Jacob Lawrence, ISBN: 0064434281, Harper Trophy
Inside the borders of the United States blacks migrate from the South to the North. The reasons are told in simple words and pictures. How the blacks feel and fit into the North are also discussed. This book is wonderful in showing cause and effect.

Dreams in the Golden Country - Diary of Zipporah Feldman, a Jewish Immigrant Girl, 1903
by Kathryn Lasky, ISBN: 0590029738, Scholastic
Zipporah Feldman enters the United States through Ellis Island at a time when Jews were coming to America because they feared for their lives in Russia. She starts her life in the New World living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her life unfolds in a first person diary form as she experiences the joy, hardships, and struggles of being an immigrant in a new land. Zipporah finds a new life in the theater as she watches her mother struggle with a new life that she cannot fit into.

Note: Based on a real life story.

So Far from Home - Diary of Mary Driscoll
by Barry Denenberg, ISBN: 059092667, Scholastic
Mary Driscoll leaves her Ma and Pa in Ireland to come to America. The potato famine had left the land barren and life was very hard so Mary's Aunt has sent money for her passage to America. She arrives in the U.S. and works at the mill as a weaver. The work is hard and many disasters happen around her as she learns to adjust to the new way of life. Life is hard but happiness comes in the form of a friend. With a friend you have someone to share things with.

Note: Based on a real life story.

Immigrant Kids
by Russell Freedman, ISBN: 0590465651, Scholastic
A documentary, written for children, follows the story of the children of the millions of European immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island during the late 1800's and early 1900's. With actual photographs, quotes, and documented incidents, the book explains what it was like coming over on the ships, their new homes, their lives at school in the new country, their work and their play. The photographs graphically portray the harshness of their new lives in this country.

Orphan Train Chilren, Lucy's Wish
by Joan Lowery Nixon, ISBN: 0440413060, Scholastic
It's 1866 and ten-year-old Lucy Griggs's mother has just died, leaving Lucy orphaned and living on the streets of New York City. Then Lucy hears about the Children's Aid Society, a group that sends orphans out west to new homes. This is her story about the journey to a new family via the train system. Her new family is not easy to get to know. Mrs. Snapes is a bitter, angry woman, and Emma isn't the sister Lucy has dreamed of.

Note: Information about the Orphan Trains and the Children's Aid Society is found in the back of the book.

Orphan Train Rider
by Andrea Warren, ISBN: 0590115278, Scholastic
This is a story/documentary of Lee Nailing, one of the few still alive, who was one of the more than 200,000 children who rode orphan trains between 1854 and 1930. The picture book format chronicles the story of these children, many orphaned, but many who lived on the streets because their parents could not care for them. The orphan trains were started by a minister names Charles Loring Brace. He had worked in the slums of New York City, and was worried about the thousands of homeless children. He felt that if he sent them on trains to the Midwest, someone would take them into their homes. Lee's story is similar to many. His mother died when he was 7. He was the middle of seven children. After a few months of struggling, his father told the three oldest children that they would have to leave home and take care of themselves. He gave the baby to family friends. Somebody took the one year old, and Lee and his brother were sent to an orphanage, and left there. The vast migration that was taking place during this time was a great contributor to this problem.

Note: An interesting look at a different set of problems triggered by the immigration to our country.

Immigration Then and Now
by Karen Laicke
This is a wonderful resource for teachers with excellent primary sources: AThe Log of Christopher Columbus , Immigrant Kids excerpts, I Was Dreaming to Come to America excerpts, words to the song, AWhen I First Came to This Land , a short play AFirst Stop, Ellis Island , poetry from Angel Island, and a short reproducible booklet titled AImmigrant Voices a Mini-Anthology. There are excellent worksheets on citizenship and national symbols to name a few.

Note: Teacher Resource with Primary Sources

Letters From Rifka
by Karen Hesse, ISBN: 059051587X , Scholastic
This is a story about Rifka and her family when they fled Russia's brutal treatment of the Jews for a new life in America. Karen Hesse the author wrote this story drawing on the memories of her Aunt Lucy Avrutin. Rifka the main character writes her account of coming to America in letter form to her cousin Tovah. This story is full of terrible obstacles, humiliating scrutiny of doctors, soldiers and deadly typhus that affects her entire family. Rifka then contracts ringworm, which makes her hair fall out, and she is denied passage to America with her family. When she is given permission to sail to America the ship encounters a bad storm and she is almost washed overboard. Finally when she arrives at Ellis Island she is denied permission to enter America because they feel that she still has ringworm. On Ellis Island she helps many who are afraid and sick. She is told if her ringworm doesn't heal she will be shipped back to Russia. On the last two pages of the story Rifka is allowed to join her family to live in America. This is a story of her immigrant courage, ingenuity and perseverance.

Hello, My Name Is Scrambled Eggs
by Jamie Gilson, ISBN: 0671741047, Minstrel
When Harvey Trumble's parents host a family of Vietnamese refugees, Harvey figures he'll show the new kid the ropes. But right from the start things go wrong. Tuan thinks hot dogs are really made from dogs, and when Harvey demonstrates his hair dryer, Tuan thinks it's a gun. Escalators and eating with a fork and ice-cold tea are all new to Tuan, so Harvey really has his hands full. This is a look at some of the problems immigrates have with the American language and culture. Kids will love this book. It is funny and the good guy wins.

Journey to Ellis Island
by Carol Bierman, ISBN: 078681411X, Hyperion/Madison
Here is the enthralling true story of one Russian-Jewish family's journey to Ellis Island and how they passed through it to begin a new life in America. Because this is a true story it is laced with real pictures and thoughts of the people as they came to the land of America and got a new start. It also completes the story by telling what happened to the family after they got to the United States shores.

If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island
by Ellen Levine, ISBN: 0590438298, Scholastic
This unique book answers all of the unanswered questions you have ever had about Ellis Island and the immigrants who passed through its gates. Ellis Island was opened in 1892, as a center for immigrants coming to live in America. If you were an immigrant. Should everyone in your family come together? How long would you stay at Ellis Island? Would your name be changed and why? These and many more questions will be answered.

Ellis Island
by Conrad Stein, ISBN: 0516466534, Children's Press
A look at the first stopping place as immigrants came into the United States on the East Coast. What happened to those immigrants, what the process was to enter the U.S., and the history of the island are told in this book. Photographs and maps help the reader understand the immigration process.

New Kids in Town
by Janet Bode, ISBN: 0590441442, Scholastic
What is it like to be a kid in a new place where the culture and language are different? These are the personal stories of kids who have immigrated to United States from all over the world. Thousands of them enter America each year, sometimes illegally. They have escaped war, poverty, and repression to carve out new lives in a new world. You will find out about their struggles, wants, needs, and what the United States looks like from the eyes of immigrants.

Journey to America
by Sonia Levitin, ISBN: 059046728X, Scholastic
This is a story of one Jewish family that escaped from Germany shortly before the start of the Second World War. It was 1938, and life was becoming more and more difficult for the Jews in Germany. They had to wear arm bands with a star. Schools were closing their doors to them. There were many things Jews were forbidden to do. The Nazis were in power. Lisa Platt's father knew they would have to escape and he left for America in the middle of the night. He promised to send for Lisa, her mother and her two sisters when there was enough money. While he is in America earning money to send for the family it has become too difficult for the family to live in Germany. One morning with only a suitcase per person they leave their home pretending to go to Switzerland for a vacation. While in Switzerland money is scarce and Ruth and Lisa are sent to a camp for refugee children to live. Life at the camp is not pleasant. Frau Strom, the director of the camp, uses the camp money for shopping trips for herself and therefore food is limited. Lisa's mom realizes the problems that the camp has and finds families that will take her children. Their mother then passes out from a touch of pneumonia and starvation. She is placed in the hospital to recover. Finally after a long trip the family arrives at Ellis Island for a reunion with their father and husband. It had been more than two years since their father had left Germany and now their journey to America was over. This is a story of a family's courage, determination, and perseverance in order to immigrate to America.

Note: Excellent novel, every 5th grader should read this book.