I love reading immigrant stories aimed at children, but many of these tales follow a formula that has long bothered me: An immigrant child joins a new community, where they are made to feel different; sometimes they’re bullied. When it turns out that the newcomer has a special ability, the other kids are suitably impressed, and the child is welcomed into the fold. While these stories are written with the goal of fostering acceptance, they send immigrant children another, unintended message: To truly fit in, you need to bring something remarkable to the table. It’s a heavy burden—what if you don’t have a talent with which to wow your peers? And why should a sense of belonging hinge on external validation? But I’m pleased to note that several new picture books offer powerful counternarratives. Multifaceted, nuanced, and deeply moving, these titles make clear that immigrants are more than enough just as they are.

In Zeno Sworder’s fantastical My Strange Shrinking Parents (Thames & Hudson, Jan. 10), two Asian immigrants give up inches from their height in return for a birthday cake, tuition, and other things for their young son; eventually they become so small that they move into a dollhouse built for them by their now-adult son. Though the boy is taunted by classmates because of his parents’ tiny stature, this is not a story about proving one’s worth; it’s about the boy’s growing appreciation of his parents’ heartaches and hard work. Drawing from the experiences of his own mother, who emigrated from China to Australia, Sworder finds beauty in the often unacknowledged everyday sacrifices that many immigrants make for their children.

Erika Meza’s To the Other Side (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, March 14) follows two Latine siblings as they cross the border from Mexico into the United States. In Meza’s strangely beautiful grayscale images, the vibrant hues of the masks the children wear (to “make us fast. Make us brave”) contrast with the ghoulish monsters that would do them harm. Through it all, the older sister encourages her sibling to persevere despite exhaustion and fear; this is a much-needed testament to the bravery of refugees and to the strength of familial bonds.

Two books celebrate the Windrush generation that, between 1948 and 1971, traveled by sea on the Empire Windrush from the Caribbean to England. John Agard’s Windrush Child: The Tale of a Caribbean Child Who Faced a New Horizon (Candlewick, April 11), illustrated by Sophie Bass, chronicles a family’s voyage, conveying their excitement, fear, homesickness, and joy through the eyes of their child. In Patrice Lawrence’s Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush (Nosy Crow, May 2), illustrated by Camilla Sucre, Ava needs help picking someone she admires for a school project. Granny has many suggestions—civil rights icon Rosa Parks, singer Winifred Atwell—but Ava realizes that none of them compare with her own grandmother, who as a young woman left her family in Trinidad and endured cold, lonely days as she carved out a new life in London. Both books recognize the courage of uprooting one’s entire existence in hopes of a better life and emphasize that every immigrant’s journey is a story worth telling.

A lot can happen in 12 months, as the protagonist of Michelle Sterling’s Maribel’s Year (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, May 9) learns. The book opens in January, soon after Maribel and Mama depart the Philippines, leaving Papa behind, and concludes in December, with the family reunited. Sterling’s rich verse and Sarah Gonzales’ warm artwork depict the child’s adjustment to an unfamiliar climate, a strange language, and new traditions. Notably, this tale demonstrates that finding a sense of belonging isn’t instantaneous—it takes time for a child to finally realize they are home.

Mahnaz Dar is a young readers’ editor.