Being a refugee

Books to share with children

The UN defines a refugee as someone who: ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’.

Thankfully most of us will never experience homelessness, by expelled from our home or country, or forced to flee from our family, friends, and homeland through fear; but reading and sharing stories, memoirs and factual accounts can help us understand and empathise with these terrifying experiences.

Sharing stories about refugees might also help our children understand why new children have joined their school. It may help us accept new people arriving in our neighbourhood.

With this in mind, we have created a collection of books for children which could help all of us better understand and empathise with anyone who is forced to become a refugee in a strange place.

When Stars are Scattered 
Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed    

Omar and his brother Hassan, two Somali boys, have spent a long time in the Dadaab refugee camp. Separated from their mother, life in the camp isn’t always easy. The hunger is constant, but there’s football to look forward to – and now there’s a chance Omar will get to go to school. With a heart-wrenching ending, this incredible true story depicts life in a refugee camp. 

Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord 
Bessora, Sarah Ardizzone, Baroux 

Alpha Coulibaly is just one of millions on the move, at the mercy of people traffickers, endlessly frustrated, endangered, and exploited as he attempts to join his family in Europe. Without a visa he is adrift for 18 months, but on the way he meets an unforgettable cast of characters, each one giving another human face to the crisis 

Miriam Halahmy 

Alix is just an ordinary fourteen-year-old, living at the bottom of Hayling Island. But one cold, misty Saturday on the beach, she and Samir suddenly find themselves saving a drowning immigrant. 

The Other Side of Truth 
Beverley Naidoo 

12-year-old Sade and her brother Femi have to flee Nigeria, but the woman who brings them to London abandons them and they are alone in a new, often hostile, environment. 

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights 
Malala Yousafzai 

This illustrated adaptation of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s bestselling memoir, ‘I Am Malala’, introduces readers of 7+ to the remarkable story of a teenage girl who risked her life for the right to go to school. 

The Jungle 
Pooja Puri 

Mico has left his family, his home, his future. Setting out in search of a better life, he instead finds himself navigating one of the world’s most inhospitable environments – the Jungle. For Mico, just one of many ‘unaccompanied children’, the Calais refugee camp has a wildness and brutality all of its own. 

The Bone Sparrow 
Zana Fraillon,  

Subhi is a refugee. Born in a detention centre, all he knows of the world is that he’s at least 19 fence diamonds high, that the nice jackets never stay long, and at night the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures, including Jimmie an illiterate girl who lives on the outside. Their unlikely friendship across the fence leads both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures. 

The Journey 
Francesca Sanna 

This beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. 

The Silence Seeker 
Ben Morley 

When a new family move in next door to Joe, his Mum says they have travelled a long way and are asylum seekers but Joe mishears and thinks they are Silence Seekers. Excited by the challenge of finding silence in the busy city, Joe befriends his new neighbour and tries his best to help him find what he thinks he is looking for. 

We also have a digital collection of eBooks and eAudio called Being a Refugee, which can be borrowed from BorrowBox 

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