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 

Ten Titles inspired by Tokyo 2020

Are you missing the drama of the Tokyo 2020 games? Here are ten books about athletes and sport to get you inspired.

After more than two weeks of action-packed events we bet you’ll be missing your daily dose of athletic heroism. But don’t worry, we have plenty of stories full of tears and cheers to keep you going until the next games.

Inspiring true stories

They Don’t Teach This by Eniola Aluko
Eni Aluko: 102 appearances for England women’s national football team. First female pundit on Match of the Day. UN Women UK ambassador. Guardian columnist. First class honours law degree. Now an inspirational author.

They Don’t Teach This, steps beyond the realms of memoir to explore themes of dual nationality and identity, race and institutional prejudice, success, failure, and faith. It is an inspiring manifesto to change the way readers and the future generation choose to view the challenges that come in their life applying life lessons with raw truths of Eni’s own personal experience.

Born Fighter by Ruqsana Begum
Ruqsana Begum always stood apart from her school friends because she was so keen on sport. At home, she wore the clothes her mother wanted her to wear and behaved like a dutiful Muslim daughter, but at heart she wanted something different.

When she saw an advert for a Muay Thai club at college, she knew that her parents would never allow her to fight, so Begum fought in secret and discovered she was a natural. When her parents arranged her marriage her new world collapsed and she found herself unable to cope, until she broke free again, and worked her way to the top.

Women in Sport: 50 fearless athletes who played to win by Rachel Ignotofsky
A richly illustrated and inspiring book, Women in Sports highlights the achievements and stories of fifty notable women athletes from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than forty sports.

The athletes featured include well-known figures like tennis player Billie Jean King and gymnast Simone Biles, as well as lesser-known champions like Toni Stone, the first woman to play baseball in a professional men’s league, and skateboarding pioneer Patti McGee. Women in Sports celebrates the success of the tough, bold, and fearless women who paved the way for today’s athletes.

Anything is possible: be brave, be kind, & follow your dreams by Gareth Southgate
An inspirational book of life lessons for young people and parents, by England Manager Gareth Southgate. Gareth’s leadership and his ‘anything is possible’ mind-set helped bring the nation together, leading the England Men’s team to one of their best performances at a football tournament in decades.

Gareth’s humble, positive and compassionate style struck a chord with youngsters, parents and people of all ages. In this book, Gareth shares his thoughts on how young people can thrive and achieve their own dreams.

You are a champion: how to be the best you can be by Marcus Rashford
Tear up the rule book. Find your own lane. You are only in competition with yourself. Marcus Rashford MBE is recognised worldwide for his journey both on-and-off the pitch — but how did a boy from the south of Manchester become not only an international footballer but also one of the leading activist voices in the UK?

In this inspiring, positive, and practical guide, Marcus gives you the tools you need to reach your full potential and will show you that your possibilities really can be endless.

Fiction Favourites

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella
Based on a remarkable true story, is a moving, inspiring novel of a life lived in hope.

Samia Omar grows up in war-torn Somalia, dreaming of being a world-class sprinter. She sleeps with a photo of Mo Farah by her bed and trains hard. After achieving a place on the national team to compete in the Beijing Olympics, she sets her sights on the 2012 games in London. But with the war encroaching on the lives of her family, Samia decides to join her sister and make the treacherous journey to Europe, putting her life and her dreams in the hands of traffickers.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Talented and determined, Devon is the centre of her ambitious parents’ world, and the lynchpin of their marriage. There is nothing Katie and Eric wouldn’t do for her.

When a violent hit-and-run accident sends shockwaves through their close-knit community, Katie is immediately concerned for her daughter, a rising star of the gymnastics world. She and Eric have worked so hard to protect Devon from anything that might distract or hurt her. That’s what every parent wants for their child, after all. Even if they don’t realize how much you’ve sacrificed for them. Even if they are keeping secrets from you . . .

Splash by Charli Howard
Molly is in her final year of primary school, with secret dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Having always lived in the shadow of her manipulative friend, Chloe, Molly finally has the chance to compete in a regional swimming contest and define herself on her own terms. But with the pressure of fitting in, and the sudden arrival of her mysterious mum, will she give up on her dreams for a shot at popularity?

The dog that saved the world (cup) by Phil Earle
The only thing that Pickles loves more than football is his best friend, and owner, Elsie. She’s smart, kind, funny and amazing at football. But even though Dad works hard to provide for them, life off the pitch is tough. It’s their team of three against the world and right now it feels like their side is losing. With the announcement that the World Cup is coming home to England and that Elsie’s team might have the chance to play in a halftime match at Wembley Stadium, it’s the happiest they’ve ever been. But when disaster strikes their dreams are shattered and it looks like it’s up to Pickles to save the World (cup).

Go Mo Go: Dinosaur dash by Kes Gray in consultation with Mo Farah
Mo and his friends are running together in the local park. Then Mo suggests they run backwards for fun. But what they hadn’t bargained for was running back in time. There are dinosaurs everywhere – and they are hungry. Luckily Mo and his friends are wearing good trainers for running and finding places to hide. It’s a good job they like running! Follow Mo on his madcap adventures as his running skills go from strength to strength.