Tag archives: books about refugees and migration

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Books for children and young people about refugees and asylum seekers

refugees 4It’s Refugee Week, an appropriate time to update my previous blog on children’s books about refugees and asylum seekers. Since then several organisations have created useful booklists, so rather than replicating them, here are the links:

CLPE Refugee Experience Booklist
Words for Life Refugee Booklist
Booktrust Refugee and Asylum Seekers Booklist (younger children)
Booktrust Refugee and Asylum Seekers Booklist (older children)
Booktrust Refugee and Asylum Seekers Booklist (teenagers) 
Books for Topics Children’s Books about Refugees and Immigration

As is clear from these lists, there are now many wonderful picture books, fiction and information books that will help children who have not experienced enforced migration to gain empathy and understanding about what it means to be a refugee or asylum seeker. Many of the books are invaluable too for refugee and asylum seeking children, who need and deserve books in which they can find people like themselves, books that validate them, their families, their journeys, their emotions. My plea is that every school and every library not only stocks but actively uses and promotes these books. They are truly important. Do have a look at what Gill Lewis, author of A Story Like the Wind, which rightly appears on many of the booklists, has to say on the role of ‘informed storytelling’ about refugees and asylum seekers.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Books for children and young people about refugees and migration

journeyA couple of months ago I was lucky enough to hear Francesca Sanna talk about the inception of her prize-winning picture book The Journey. She spoke to many children and adults in a refugee centre. Her wonderful and thought-provoking book is an amalgamation of the stories of their journeys. The illustrations are stunning. Ever since then, I have been intending to do a blog that pulls together other great children’s books published in the last few years on the themes of refugees and migration. Here it is – by no means an exhaustive list, just books that I know and that impress me.

Firstly, a few other recent picture books. Welcome by Barroux, Ice in the Jungle by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar and Refuge (about the birth of Jesus, focussing on the refugee aspect) by Anne Booth are exceptional. My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner is extremely valuable and very poignant. All suitable for young children. I also love Here I Am by Patti Kim. I’m a big fan of Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland for over 7s.

Novels now. Nadine Dreams of Home by Bernard Ashley is lovely and very accessible. A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, which could not be hotter off the press, is superb and deeply moving. Red Leaves by Sita Brahmachari  and Deborah Ellis’s My Name is Parvana, a sequel to The Breadwinner Trilogy, are both outstanding. Two recent novels for older children and teenagers that have totally taken my breath away are Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird and The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon, which has been shortlisted for this year’s Carnegie medal. I cannot recommend them highly enough. While not ostensibly the main subject of SF Said’s magnificent novel Phoenix, the plight of refugees is one of its many nuanced themes.

Alpha by Barroux and Bessora is a brilliant and chilling graphic novel for teenagers (and adults).

Two excellent information books came out last year. Refugees and Migrants by Ceri Roberts is a great introduction to the subject for 6 year-olds and up. For older children Who Are Refugees and Migrants? by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young is immensely valuable. Both books have good glossaries and indexes plus useful links to sources of further information.

Where Will I Live? by Rosemary McCarney is a book of forceful photographs of refugee children in a number of countries. The text is minimal but effective.

As I say, this is my pick of purely recent titles. Do take a look at these other lists, all of which include fantastic older books too: