This week is Refugee Week so it seems an alt time to share with you come of the very beautiful books I’ve been sent which look at refugees specifically, but also have themes of kindness and acceptance which might be more appropriate for younger children.
I will be adding new titles to this post as the week goes on so make sure you check back regularly.
I also wrote a post for refugee week last week which contains the titles I used to build a progressive reading spine for use from Year R up to Year 6. There’s a link HERE if you’d like a look.
Title 1: ‘The Unexpected Friend’ by Rays Rahman, illustrated by Inshra Sakhawat Russell (Guba Publishing)
A young Rohingya boy discovers an injured bird whilst he’s waiting by the mosque for his friend. He knows that he has to nurse it back to health but will need the help of his siblings. But when he breaks his arm whilst gathering firewood, Faisal has to watch and hope. When the moment comes to set the bird free, Faisal has mixed emotions…
Over one million Rohingya people had to flee the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to seek refuge in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, making this one of the largest humanitarian refugee crises in recent history.
This wonderful picture book gives readers a real insight into life in a refugee camp – from the food lines, to the medical clinic, to the learning centre. The story is one of freedom and hope, and opened up an interesting conversation with Book Boy Jr. 6+
Title 2 – ‘Lubna and Pebble,’ by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus (OUP)
‘Lubna and Pebble’ is a beautiful story about a little girl and her best friend, Pebble, whom she finds on the beach when she arrives from across the ocean to the World of Tents. She and Pebble are the best of friends and share all their worries together.
When a sad little boy arrives at camp, Lubna knows just what to do to cheer him up and make friends. But what will happen when Lubna’s father finds them a house to live in?
This is a gently told story of a little girl and part of her family who have made the dangerous crossing across the sea to escape war in their home town. It touches upon the what she left behind when they fled and on the hardships of life in camp in a sensitive way which makes this book particularly suitable for young readers.
Above all else, as much as this is a story about refugees, it is also a story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places, staying positive, and new beginnings. 5+
Title 3 – ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria,’ by Catherine Britain (Nosy Crow)
Aya is 11 yrs old & seeking asylum in Britain from the war in Syria with her unwell mother and little brother.
The chance discovery of a local dance school & the possibility of a scholarship provide a glimmer of hope as her family struggles to remain in the country.
I am not ashamed to admit that this title made me cry whilst on train into London. 9+
Title 4 – ‘The Suitcase’ by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)
This picture book is an absolute masterpiece of story-telling.
When a strange, frightened animal arrives dragging a big suitcase behind it, the other animals are immediately suspicious and want to know what’s in the case. Dissatisfied with the animal’s answer, they take matters into their own hands.
A seemingly simple but heart-breaking/warming tale with illustrations that just finished me. It has themes of kindness to strangers, trust & the concept of ‘home’. 4+
Title 5 – ‘A Home for Luna,’ by Stef Gemmill, illustrated by Mel Armstrong (New Frontier Publishing)
When Luna is washed up on a strange shore, she’s not sure what kind of welcome to expect from the penguins who live there. Will they want to be friends? Has she found a new forever home?
This title is great for exploring the concepts of home, acceptance and making new friends through a story appropriate for readers aged 3+
Title 6 – ‘My Name is Not Refugee’ by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke)
This book is the perfect introduction to the term ‘refugee.’ Follow a young boy & his mum on their journey to a different life, with mum explaining all the new & strange things they will see. Hopeful and inspiring.
I love that this book encourages readers to see the people behind the label and gets them to think about how they might feel in a similar situation. There are interesting questions posed on the pages to really get children thinking.
Title 7 – ‘Found You’ by Devon Holzwarth (Alison Green Books)
This is a beautiful new picture book about refugee, Sami – a little boy in a new country who’s finding it hard to make friends. It’s very difficult to make friends when you can’t speak the language very well and people look so unwelcoming.
When Sami and his family go to the park, Little Bird notices Sami playing all alone. She knows that he needs her help and shows him that friends are everywhere if you know where to look.
All of these books have wonderful themes of acceptance, tolerance and friendship which make them vital components of a well-balanced bookshelf. The earlier we start sharing these with children, the sooner they will develop the skill of empathy for others.
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*