Titles in blue have been recommended by the CoS staff team or tried and tested in schools and are a good place to start!
Up to 5 years
Bramble’s friends have no where to stay but does he have space for them all at his house?
Captures the scents and colours of Damascus
Celebrates the similarities and differences between babies around the world
Key Stage 1
A small creature from outer space lands on Earth accidentally. She finds the Earth creatures unfeeling and unfriendly, until she finds a box of unwanted puppies, and then a school playground full of small creatures who ‘seemed hopeful’. Empathy is evoked by both the brief text and the distinctive illustrations
Lubna is lonely when she and father arrive in a refugee camp and she uses her imagination to create a friend by drawing a happy face on a pebble with a felt-tip pen. Then Amir arrives and Lubna has a human friend to play with and to whom she can introduce Pebble which becomes important when it is time for Lubna and her father to move on. A picture book in which the expressions on the characters’ faces beautifully enhance and complement a story that is told with simplicity yet has emotional depth.
This picture book conveys a strong message in a simply told tale. A boy finds a green shoot in a war ravaged landscape. He nurtures the vine it becomes until it spreads along the barbed wire fence which separates one part of his land from another. Soldiers try to destroy it but ‘Roots are deep and seeds spread’, and eventually the boy’s vine sprouts new growth and intertwines with a plant tended by a girl on the other side of the fence.
This picture book lets us into the world of Hassan, a young boy who has just arrived in Britain from Somalia. He expresses his feelings about the terrors he has witnessed through making paintings. His teacher finds a way, with the help of an interpreter, to help him settle into his new home.
The elephants are angry. The hippos have arrived and are using their river because their own has dried up. Elmer the patchwork elephant investigates the reason and works out a way to get the elephants and the hippos to work together to resolve the problem.
However hard he tries to join in, Something Else is always excluded by the other creatures because of the way he looks. Then one day, a stranger turns up at his door claiming to be just like him. Will Something Else reject this newcomer or will he let him.
Two gentle giants are formed from torn brown paper in the collage illustrations of this picture book. They are great friends until a trivial argument causes ructions for them and for the land in which they live. After trials and tribulations, a simple personal observation effects their reconciliation.
Andersen Press 9781783441433 When Rat sets up home in their community, Frog is the only one prepared to get to know this ‘stranger’. Pig and Duck both have prejudices and groundless fears about newcomers in their midst. Eventually they learn that everyone can make a contribution to society wherever they come from.
Curious Fox 9781782022268A young boy’s experience of initial alienation and confusion is eloquently expressed in pictures placed on pages carefully designed in terms of layout and colour. The only words are jumbled up on signs or heard as a wall of incomprehensible sound to a child who has just arrived in a new country with a different language and culture from what he is used to. Planting a seed brought from his country leads to the nurturing of friendship and feeling at ease with his identity in his new home. Based on the author’s own experience of migrating from Korea to the USA.
A polar bear realises that he needs to leave his Arctic home as the ice melts and his food supply dwindles. So he climbs into a little boat and sets sail. Along the way he is joined by other animals whose habitat is threatened. The story ends on a note that combines a mixture of hope and uncertainty about whether they will ever be able to return to their original home.
A mouse gets increasingly exasperated because a bear has made himself very much at home on HIS chair. The positioning of the angry little mouse on the left of each spread giving voice to his frustration and the genial smiling polar bear on the right filling the space is beautifully and satisfyingly designed. This is maintained throughout the book until the equally humorous dénouement. The first Amnesty CILIP Honour for the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist went to this book which, the judges said, is "packed full of joyous humour: it develops children's empathy and shows how we can protest creatively and peacefully when something is wrong."
Why are the green lizards and the red rectangles at war? Dissent means death and their battles intensify. Can a way to live together peacefully ever be found? A story about conflict and eventual integration told using distinctive images and minimal text.
A weary animal arrives in a new place dragging a suitcase behind him. The animals he meets are very curious about its contents. He tells them what is inside but they are sceptical. To say more would give too much away about this important story that demonstrates simply and thoughtfully the necessity of being welcoming to strangers who are missing their home, as it benefits from an element of surprise on first reading. The strength and simplicity of this picture book’s message is enhanced by the use of a limited but carefully chosen palette set against white space.
A mother explains to her child, in a way that attempts to reassure, that they need to move because where they live is no longer safe. She tells him what he may expect and, aside from the main text, readers are asked questions to encourage empathy.
This charming, funny, sweet picture book combines concerns about arctic erosion, animal conservation and immigration in a lovely story about polar bears. It’s sure to be a favourite with little ones, who will love Sheibani's illustration.
Refugees is a book of two voices. The first one sees the people fleeing from war and persecution and asks, "Why here? Why my country?" It is a feeling many people share. It is one of fear and suspicion. But when you read the text the opposite way, a new voice emerges. It says, "Why not make them welcome? Why not share the things we have?"
A picture book about Saya, whose mother is in an immigration detention center. Saya’s mother sends her stories on tape to listen to and Saya makes a tape of her own.
Lower Key Stage Two
Sarah Garland uses a comic strip format to tell the story of Azzi who has to flee her own country with her parents, leaving her grandmother behind, and settle as a refugee in a new country. At school she shares her knowledge of growing beans by planting and harvesting some brought from her home country and this helps her to grow into her new life. The two countries involved are not specified, enabling identification with the stories of many refugees and migrants.
A young Rwandan refugee has a hard time when he first arrives in a British primary school. His culture shock is exacerbated by his strong belief, learned from his absent grandfather, that stories should not be written down. This makes it difficult for him to engage with books. Christophe is offended when, thinking she is being helpful, his teacher writes down his own distressing story, told when the other children noticed his scar from when he was grazed by a bullet. Understanding is gradually reached by all parties.
Moon Man crash lands on Earth and is imprisoned by the authorities who fear his strangeness. His unique qualities (ie the ability to wax and wane) enable him to escape and he leads a fugitive existence until he meets Doktor van der Dunkel who builds a rocket so he can return home to his ‘shimmering seat in space’. Moon Man, as portrayed in Tomi Ungerer’s illustrations, is a very sympathetic character and this picture book could lead to fruitful discussions about prejudice and people’s fear of the unknown
Joe makes his own sense of what he hears when his mother tells him that the new boy next door is an asylum seeker. Convinced that the boy is a ‘Silence Seeker’, he tries without success to help him find peace and quiet in various places throughout the neighbourhood. Then the boy and his family leave as quietly as they came. A moving and thought-provoking picture book with an accessible text.
Nicola Davies was motivated to write the poem that forms the text for this book by the UK government refusing sanctuary to 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees and by hearing of a refugee child being refused a school place because there was no chair to sit on. A child describes how her life and her world were totally disrupted when war came to her country and how she had to flee alone. When she eventually reaches a place which she believes war has not reached, she finds a school where children are learning about the same things she was learning about in her home country. The teacher tells her that there is no room for her but in a hopeful and moving dénouement the children each bring chairs so that the refugee child and others in her situation will be able to come to school and symbolically be able to find a new home, a new place to be.
The Fat King refuses to help the Lion King’s starving country and sends his army to attack them. Instead, they find a novel way of fighting back, by making use of the food mountains which are mouth-wateringly depicted.
Published in association with Amnesty International, each spread of this powerful book of pictures incorporates quotations from people past and present and from a range of countries and cultures, about what freedom means to them, each set within an illustration by a different artist. Writers include Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. Illustrators include Hans Andersen Award winners Peter Sís and Roger Mello and 2015-17 UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.
A donkey tells the story of how, led by a man, he carried a woman to Bethlehem where their baby was born and visited by shepherds and kings. A dream of danger sends them on their way until they reach another country where they find refuge. The people in this family are not named, enabling readers to find even more resonance between this simply and touchingly told version of the Christmas story and what is happening to many refugees in the world today.
In his dreams, Angus climbs aboard a train loaded up with milk, honey, rice and water and travels the world where he sees widespread hunger, starvation and poverty. The train driver will not stop and share the goods as he is taking them, as instructed, to the king and his courtiers for their breakfast. Angry Angus calls a halt and distributes the food to those who need it declaring, when he wakes, that someday he will drive the goods train.
This classic picture book of the Cold War, showing Bear and Eagle in constant conflict, as placid Moose builds calm and community, is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1971. When Bear’s and Eagle’s shouting turns to throwing sticks and stones, Moose finds a creative use for them.
A General with a strong army conquers all the countries in the world because he believes his own large country’s way of life is superior. Just one small country is left but when he makes his final takeover bid, resistance does not take the form he expects. The good humour of the small country’s inhabitants is apparent in the illustrations in this picture book which conveys ideas about imperialism in an accessible and thought-provoking way.
In this vividly painted picture book, a young woman from a Jewish community in Eastern Europe is sent to America in the 19th century to make a life in the New World. On the boat she meets a young man with whom she becomes reacquainted in New York. Later she is reunited with her beloved grandmother. A heartwarmingly human story accompanied by illustrations that give a strong sense of time and space.
Nadine, her mother and brother have escaped from Goma, a fictitious African country, leaving behind her father who has been captured by rebels. Now they live in London where Nadine has to come to terms with a new language and culture. A photo of her home country that she finds on a computer in the library comforts her but also makes her long to see her father again. Will the family ever be reunited with him?
When Ahmet arrives in their class, a group of children are curious to know more about him – where he is from, what language does he speak and where is his family? As they learn more about him – that he is a Kurdish refugee from Syria and that he was separated from his family en route to Britain – their concern for him grows. When they hear that the gates to refugees are to be closed, they hatch a plan ‘The Greatest Idea in the World’ with the aim of ensuring that Ahmet can be reunited with his family. Narrated by one of this group of children, this touching novel conveys the seriousness of the situation while maintaining a humorous tone when describing the scrapes they get into while trying to accomplish their mission.
This is the second book in Cathy Cassidy’s Lost and Found series but readers don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy this story. Sami is forced to flee his home in Syria for the safety of England and attempts to begin a new life. However, he cannot forget the hardships of his past. He undertook a long and dangerous journey across icy waters, armed with no possessions except for his dad's old coat, a flute and a small amount of hope for the future. The story follows his interactions with new friends and his love for a girl who helps him to see that his future may be brighter than his past…
Pitch Invasion unites different boys with different stories but are united in their passion for football. Seth is nervously awaiting news of his mother, who has been ill, and is haunted by visions and worst case scenarios. He then meets two football-mad brothers from Aleppo, who share their refugee stories with him and offer Seth a new sense of courage. They come together and learn about different experiences and hardships. This is a powerful book and a good choice to engage a wide audience with issues of migration and refugees.
A shortlisted book for the 2018 Rebel Awards, Tender Earth follows the story of Laila and her anger at the injustice in the world around her. One of her friends, Pari, faces racist abuse on the small housing estate she lives on, having fled to England with her mother. Her other friend, Kez, also faces bullying because of her family’s Jewish beliefs and the fact they are refugees. The book shows that being a refugee means many different things through a gripping plot and a celebration of friendship and fighting for equality.
This heart-warming true story about working hard to achieve your dreams will inspire children to believe that they can be whoever they want to be.
"The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson is ostensibly an adventure story about a family of yetis who are forced to leave their home high in the Himalayas, journeying across the globe to an English country estate, where they have been promised a safe haven. Unfortunately, it turns out to be anything but. The story of their journey, how these unusual, hugely loveable creatures with unusual habits, are treated both as they travel and when they arrive in the UK, has a kind, often funny, but also sober and humane message for all of us about how we treat newcomers to this country, in the same vein as the Paddington Bear books."
“Once there was a boy who had to leave his home...and find another.” So begins the beautifully told story about weathering the journey of life. “Teacup” is gently written with lyrical text and stunning artwork. The illustrations are epic and widescreen and the story is subtle and light. The boy’s teacup holds only a small amount of earth from his childhood, but little does the boy know that something is growing inside. Teacup is a book about growing up or immigration or the importance of home or possibly none of those things. What it is however, is profound, stunning and a book to lose time in exploring its nuance and beauty."
"This is the story of an immigrant to the US; a young Jewish girl sailing from Eastern Europe and leaving everything she knows to start a new life. Beautiful illustrations make this a sophisticated picture book to be appreciated by older children too."
"A brilliant story about the realities of illegal immigration as experienced by two Mongolian brothers who arrive at a Bootle primary school in Liverpool."
"Nadine Kadaan brings to life the story of Yazan, a Syrian boy who is stuck inside the house – no school, no play and parents distracted by war...Tomorrow is a story from young Yazan’s viewpoint – what is important to a young boy? Meeting his friends, playing with his new bike that has a special bell that goes TINGALINGALING! He even misses school and his friends. This is a story for every child in every part of the world – because this is a tragedy of our contemporary world. Children who are growing up now in the UK or in any other continent should be given the opportunity to understand and empathise with their peers in war-torn cities and countries."
This colourful, beautifully illustrated tale is thoughtful and heart-warming. When a strange, white creature arrives in the wild woods, he is ignored by all the animals. He is a stranger and outsider and strangers and outsiders cannot be trusted. One day, the animals watch as the creature tries to fly back home, on wings made of leaves. But where is home? A moving story with an important message about how we treat others."
"Brilliant text telling the true story of a girl who was displaced from Congo, travelled to other countries in Africa, was further displaced again before finally seeking asylum in the UK. Told in the child's voice, using a combination of photographs, artwork and text. Allows Y4 upwards to study different points of a refugee's journey and to understand the reasons that asylum seekers arrive in Europe. Have used it as a base for 4 weeks of literacy during a topic on migration, children's rights and democracy."
"A touching story of friendship about a boy and a refugee written by a 9 year old boy and superbly illustrated by Alison Brown."
"An emotional and gripping yet gentle read, this bilingual picturebook (Arabic/English) is suitable for all ages and reading abilities. Rama and her family’s story set in Syria will prompt plenty of discussion about home, family and the migrant experience. The simply amazing artwork, created using stones, expresses the emotions underpinning the refugee narrative and will pull creative responses from even the youngest reader. The biographical notes accompanying this collaborativeking work tell a story that is as wonderful as the book itself and enrich the whole. A must have book for every school or classroom library."
"A child wonders, if there is room in the sky for all the stars and in the sea for all the fish and in the library for all the books, why people still fight over space? Surely if we are kinder, there is room for everyone in this beautiful world. There's Room for Everyone is a picture book that talks about conflicts and spaces that can be shared. It makes children think about these concepts compassionately, without thinking of a specific ethnicity as victims of war. The story is timeless and can open discussions about acceptance and kindness in any context."
"Annemarie Allan's poignant and uplifting WW2 tale of a runaway German refugee boy in Edinburgh proves that strangers need not be enemies."
"A powerful and poignant picture book from the incredible Nicola Davies with expressive, emotive and challenging illustration by the gifted Laura Carlin. The story, nominated for the 2018 Greenaway Medal, tells of a young boy starting a new life in a mining community in Wales having moved from Italy. He befriends Mr Evans who races pigeons, and there follows a sensitive exploration of the boy's feelings. With a focus on making people welcome and empathising with those in similar situations, this is a fabulous book to use in the classroom. Various teaching notes available from CLPE, Amnesty UK and the publishers Walker will give teachers a springboard with planning too."
Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket!
Upper Key Stage 2/Key Stage Three
Francesca Sanna has drawn on the experiences of recent refugees from many countries. The text in this book is easy to read in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure and this apparent simplicity combined with the memorable illustrations have great power to move readers of all ages. Each spread features a carefully chosen colour palette, depicting the variety of landscapes, real and emotional, through which a family passes, escaping conflict and seeking sanctuary. Images of the natural world permeate the book, one of the most delightful pictures being of a variety of birds migrating, causing the narrator to consider that they do not have to cross borders as people do. The book ends on a hopeful note but makes it clear that most refugees live with continued uncertainty, even when they hope they have reached a place of safety.
This wordless graphic novel tells many stories through expressive sepia illustrations which depict a strange mix of the realistic and the surreal. A man travels to another country leaving his wife and child behind. Why does he go? What is this country where he finds it so hard to understand what is going on and to be understood? He gradually finds ways to communicate and other people start to tell him their own stories. By not making the settings identifiable places and by adding many surrealistic touches, Shaun Tan allows this story to be simultaneously about a specific migrant and every migrant. A unique book to be puzzled over, discussed and made the reader’s own.
A solid grey wall dominates the cover of this sombre and thought-provoking picture book which has come to the UK from Germany via Australia. A man is washed ashore on an island where the people are suspicious of him. They would drive him back into the sea immediately if it weren’t for the fisherman who tries to make the community include the man. This book has a harsh message about human intolerance which forces readers to consider society’s attitudes towards immigrants and anyone who appears to be ‘different’ and the whole question of bullying by a powerful majority. The text is spare and memorable, while the grey toned illustrations evoke the artwork of Käthe Kollwitz and Edvard Munch.
A group of people are floating across the sea in a small boat. We don’t know where they have come from or where they are going to, only that they are in a similar situation to many refugees, past and present. Several of them have food to distribute but all the boy Rami has to share is the music from his violin, the most important thing he could bring with him because it carries his soul. It turns out to be the most precious gift of all as he uses it to accompany a significant story which resonates with all as they drift across the sea. The poetic text ebbs and flows over the two tone illustrations which are an integral part of the storytelling and reflect the blue of the ocean and the night sky.
In war torn Beirut, Ayesha must make a perilous journey across the city to get essential medicine for her sick grandmother from a doctor whose family are on the opposing side in the conflict. A short novel set in a specific time and place - Lebanon in the 1970s, there are sadly many parallels for children around the world with the situation in which young Ayesha finds herself.
Morris Gleitzman’s writing often combines humour and pathos and this novel is no exception. Football mad Jamal and his family have to leave Afghanistan when the authorities discover that his mother has been secretly running a school. Their journey to Australia is fraught with difficulty. There is a sequel Girl Underground.
Aya and her mother and baby brother are refugees from Aleppo in Syria seeking asylum in Britain, having travelled via Turkey and Greece, and her father has gone missing along the way. Aya is a talented ballet dancer who had lessons in Syria and her abilities are recognised through encounters and friendships she makes soon after her arrival in Manchester. The story focuses on Aya’s life in Britain, including the uncertainties around whether she and her family will be allowed to remain, with flashbacks showing how they came to be there. The author was inspired by Judith Kerr’s semi-autobiographical novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit about a Jewish family leaving Nazi Germany for England in the 1930s (HarperCollins 9780007274772).
Sami is devastated when the rebab, the musical instrument played by his grandfather - the most precious possession he brought with him from Afghanistan to America, is snatched from him at a Boston subway station. Finding it for sale in a pawnshop for $700, Sami goes on a mission, which takes all his ingenuity, to get it back by a series of trades. Will he manage it before the shopkeeper sells it to someone else?
The writer's autobiographical account of her childhood in Trinidad and her family's migration to Britain in 1960. The warmth and strength she gained from her family are strongly evoked, as are her feelings of bewilderment at the ignorance and racism they encountered. This new edition marks the twentieth anniversary of its first publication with a reflective introduction by the author.
When two Mongolian brothers Chingis and Nergui turn up at her school, they insist that Julie becomes their Good Guide. She takes her duties seriously, learning about their country along the way. The story is told from her viewpoint, typed on paper that looks like a school exercise book. Photographs taken by Chingis with a Polaroid camera are reproduced but are they really pictures of Mongolia? And who or what is the demon of which Nergui is so afraid? A sad story which has a touching ending, interlaced with this author’s characteristic humour.
Sita Brahmachari writes warmly about a multicultural cast of characters living in a fractured world, focusing on three young people who escape from their everyday environment and come together in an Autumn wood. Not a fairy tale forest but an urban wood that still cloaks them while they seek to come to terms with their own identities and the relationships within their respective families. Zak is deeply anxious about his mother, missing while reporting from a war zone. She is separated from his father, a historian working in New York, while Zak is cared for by Shalini, many miles away from her own son. Somali refugee Aisha is distraught because her loving foster mother believes it would be better for her to live with a family from a similar cultural background. Iona has fled from an abusive home situation and fends for herself, her only companion being her dog Red. The story is threaded through with Zak’s discoveries about past inhabitants of Home Wood and the children’s association with an elderly woman who has made the wood her home.
When we first meet Shif he is in the sea, struggling for his life, having been tossed from a boat. The story then shifts back in time to show how he came to be there, having escaped from an unnamed politically repressive regime. The short chapters and the immediacy of the use of the present tense carry us swiftly through Shif’s experiences without revealing how his journey will ultimately end.
Elizabeth Laird has drawn on her experience of volunteering in refugee camps in Jordan to write this novel which highlights the tragic situation that has developed in Syria. The story is seen through the eyes of Omar and opens with an introduction to his daily life, going to school and working at two jobs, and to his family. A combination of factors lead to their having to leave their home and flee their country. Elizabeth Laird demonstrates that whatever line people pursue, whether it’s Omar’s brother Musa’s clandestine political activity or their father’s compromising attitude which he believes will protect his job and family, all are potentially in danger. This novel covers important concerns regarding the treatment of refugees, the role of women and girls and the situation in the Middle East. However, it’s not purely an ‘issues’ book – these matters are raised within the context of an involving and fast-paced narrative with a central character with whom readers can empathise
This book has many parallels with Elizabeth Laird’s Welcome to Nowhere. In a first person narrative, a boy tells of his family’s life in Syria, the circumstances under which they are forced to flee and their lives in a refugee camp. However, Ghalib’s family are Syrian Kurds and, as they live in a different part of the country from Omar’s family, their exit from Syria is via Turkey rather than Jordan. Their routes to Europe as refugees are therefore different although they face similar uncertainties. Although there are many parallels, the personalities of the characters shine through, emphasising that every refugee is an individual belonging to an individual family with their own unique circumstances and feelings. The child characters are especially strong – competent and politically aware Bushra, wise little Aylan and orphaned Safaa, determined and strongly protective of her little brother. Jane Mitchell has chosen her characters’ names as a tribute to real children who have died as a direct result of the war in Syria.
Subhi, a ten year old boy of the Rohingya people - a much persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar -has never known anything but life in an immigration detention centre. His own imagination and his friendship with a girl called Jimmie, who lives on the other side of the wire but has problems of her own, help him to survive. The country where the story is located is not named but, in an afterword, the author says that the conditions she describes are taken from reports of life in detention centres in Australia which is where she lives.
Fourteen year old Alem comes to Britain because, as he says: ‘I am half Ethiopian and half Eritrean. Ethiopia and Eritrea are fighting each other and they are both fighting me, that’s why I had to come here as a refugee.’. This book was first published in 2001 and Alem’s story of how he copes with separation from his parents and adapts to life in another country, meeting support and kindness as well as lack of understanding and a racist bureaucratic system, is just as relevant today.
The British economy crashes causing a societal breakdown resulting in the mass exodus of the British population to France. Framing the story in this way, the refugee experience is located firmly at the door of the English child. This forces the reader to think about the experience not as an observer but as someone who could just as easily be subjected to such adversity.
In this award winning novel, Fabio Geda has given voice to Enaiatollah Akbari, a resilient refugee he met in Italy where the young man claimed political asylum and settled after a journey of many years from Afghanistan, begun when he was ten years old. He endured many difficulties living and working and surviving in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece, at times being turned back and having to set out anew before reaching Italy.
A photographer documents her work in strife torn areas during the last 30 years and her pictures show the dignity of many brave children and their families. Sections on Home and Displacement, Family, Health, Work, School and Play provide a framework for the book and in each the relevant statements from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are referenced. Jenny Matthews briefly describes the social and political backgrounds to the situations she has witnessed and in each section she outlines the photographer’s perspective and it is these insights in addition to the photographs themselves that make this book unique. There are appendices with further information about the main conflicts, a map showing whereabouts in the world they are and a list of weblinks.
The main character in this book is also called Amina. Unlike J. L. Powers’ book, this is a first person narrative, and the author has been careful not to set her story in a specific location and she explains her reasons for this in an enlightening interview at the end of the book. However, there are many parallels with the Somali Amina’s story. Both girls live in a situation where there is a local militia which confines and restricts the behaviour of women. Both lose their father and brother in similar circumstances and need to draw on their own strengths to help their families. Both develop relationships with boys around their own age and the first stirrings of romantic and sexual feelings are intimated sensitively. Most importantly they are both very creative and this has a significant bearing on their stories. Jo Cotterill’s Amina is a fine storyteller, inspired by the stars in the sky, and this helps to give hope to the people in the refugee camp where she and her sister find themselves.
This is the true story of the book’s co-author Michel Chikwanine, himself a former child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Captured at the age of five, Michel relates what happened to him, some of the horrors he endured, how he escaped and, with the help of his family, coped with the consequences. He now lives in Canada and he actively campaigns around issues of poverty and conflict. A comic strip style is used to illustrate the book which makes it accessible although some of the more disturbing content needs to be shared carefully with younger children, even bearing in mind Michel’s own age at the time of his experiences. Some of the background is conveyed in the text of his story and this is expanded on in notes at the end of the book.
This graphic novel tells the story of Ebo who follows his brother Kwame so that they can make the perilous journey from Africa to Europe to join their sister Sisi together. The chapters alternate between ‘now’ and ‘then’, building up a picture of the circumstances in which the two boys find themselves. This book is suitable for a younger audience than Alpha (see below) which tells a similar story, based on the harrowing experiences of many migrants and readers will empathise with the resourceful central character of twelve year old Ebo.
The subtitle of this book is ‘Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution and Poverty’ and it is a well-researched description of their situation in the contemporary world. The inclusion of case studies gives insights into the huge variety of circumstances in which human beings find themselves.
Published in association with UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), this book provides a general picture of the situation of refugees in the world today with a particular emphasis on Syria, South Sudan and Central America. At its heart, however, are drawings produced by refugee children and young people, ranging in age from 7 to 17, depicting their experiences. It’s very disturbing to see the horrific circumstances they have lived through and to acknowledge their feelings expressed in this way.
Kerr’s semi-autobiographical novel is a hugely popular story that depicts the challenges of being a Jew at the time when Hitler was in power. The book follows the dangerous journey of Anna and her family, who must leave everything behind and set off in search of a new life.
The story is narrated by 12-year-old Omar, who lived in the beautiful and bustling city of Bosra, Syria until war changed everything. Omar didn’t care about politics; he wanted is to grow up to become a successful businessman. Soon, however, his world changes. Bombs are falling, people are dying, and Omar and his family have to flee their home with only what they can carry. It doesn’t help that his brother Musa gets caught up in the dangerous world of politics. They have no choice, after already facing challenging experiences, than to attempt the dangerous journey escaping their homeland altogether.
Sade and her brother suffer the most awful tragedy; they watch their mother get murdered. They are forced to leave their father and flee from their home in Nigeria to London and must navigate this unfamiliar country alone. The narrative is emotionally powerful and shows the dangers of speaking the truth in South Africa during the apartheid and shows how frightening and lonely the experience of being a refugee can be.
It seems fate leads Liam to find an abandoned baby and as a result his life becomes entwined with that of Oliver, an African boy seeking asylum and Crystal, an emotionally damaged girl. Acknowledging the connection between them, Liam helps them to escape the authorities who would deport Oliver. Liam learns about the horrors of real war, of young lives abused and families destroyed. The mock savagery of his games overflows into an anger that is too much for him to bear. Friendship, loyalty and truth are explored through a cast of complex characters in this compelling story. While often tense, it ends on a note of hope.
This moving collection of short stories focuses on the experiences of asylum seekers from all over the world, who due to persecution in their own countries have sought safety on foreign shores. Told through the eyes of children, these tales encompass life under Mugabe in Zimbabwe, a journey hidden under boat's tarpaulin from Vietnam to Australia and a flight from war-torn Ethiopia to Britain.
These stories vividly portray the desperation felt by families who, having fled brutal regimes, find themselves the victim of prejudice and bullying in their often confusing and frightening new countries. Often from comfortable backgrounds, these children have to adjust to sleeping in camps and temporary housing and frequently being viewed as second-class citizens in their new homes. An eye-opening collection, which will hopefully evoke empathy and understanding amongst all who read it.
Islanders find a man on the beach. He isn’t like them. They want to send him back to sea, but they don’t want to be responsible for his death. They take him in, but lock him in a goat pen. He needs food, so they give him the pigs’ scraps and lock him up again. The islanders imagine the evil the man could do. Growing restless and fearful, they march him to his raft and force him out to sea. They build a high wall around the island so that outsiders can’t trouble them again. This chilling picture book about prejudice, intolerance and the plight of refugees will spark classroom discussions with older readers. The illustrations are fitting: sombre, menacing and dark-toned.
Child I thinks it's their birthday. They can't be certain, because none of the adults in the camp are really sure what date it is, but they decide now is the right time to tell their story. This heartbreaking, moving tale follows the unaccompanied children and volunteers living in a refugee camp and it's impossible not to be deeply touched while reading it. Every event in the book has really happened to people in a refugee camp, bringing intense poignancy to stories of children picking out breadcrumbs from the mud and searching through rubbish tips for toys. Even in the darkest of circumstances, they're still children – which can make the events of the novel even harder to bear. Steve Tasane's spare prose is the perfect way to tell the story, and even though none of the children in the book have names, their personalities shine through – from I's endlessly good nature and constant requests to play to V's stubborn, bold and loveable feistiness. Child I is not an easy read, but it is an important one, and it will help children – and, for that matter, adults - consider those who are less fortunate than them.
Ghalib and his cousin are badly injured by a bomb one night while out foraging for a pair of shoes. It is the final straw for his terrified parents who realise that leaving the country they love may be the only way to keep their children alive. Packing nothing but bare essentials, the family set off on a perilous journey through ruined cities, refugee camps and across the cold, dark sea. Along the way, Ghalib will make friends and lose loved ones.This heartbreaking story depicts the reality of fleeing war, as told by a 13-year-old boy. Mitchell spent time in refugee camps talking to real Syrian families and has based her well-researched tale on their experiences. Not only is her story told with compassion and understanding, it is also a timely and vital read. Deserving of a place on every school reading list.
Befriended by a brave and loyal stray dog, Shadow, Aman and his mother survive a treacherous trip across war-ravaged Afghanistan. But now they are in danger again - can Shadow help them one more time? This is a candid exploration of the injustices of war, at home and away, and an unflinching account of the treatment of asylum seekers. The book includes explanatory notes on the war in Afghanistan and the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.
Deo’s family life is destroyed when government forces kill most of the inhabitants of his rural Zimbabwean village, including his beloved mother and grandfather. He escapes with his older brother, Innocent, whose learning difficulties and obsessive behaviour prove both a problem and an unlikely bonus. Together they flee across country in search of the South African they believe to be their father, witnessing terrible atrocities inflicted by troops, and hostility against refugees along the way. Williams reveals the many hardships the two boys face, but also their tremendous faith in the promise of a better life ahead, as well as their passion for football, and their determination to honour the memory of their family. It’s a tough and heart-rending story, but one that needs telling.
Tash and her best friend Sam have grown up used to following the rules in occupied Tibet. But when a man sets himself on fire as an act of protest, Tash barely escapes after her house is raided and her parents are arrested. She, Sam and their two yaks set out on a dangerous journey across the Himalayas to reach India and the Dalai Lama, who she hopes will be able to save her parents. This beautifully designed book is a richly atmospheric story of friendship, courage and survival. It provides a rare insight into Tibetan culture and raises timely questions about the nature of freedom, without being overtly political. Although there are some distressing moments, these are sensitively handled and the overriding message is one of hope and compassion.
"A well told, honest story about the hidden (and often ignored) issues some young people in our society are dealing with everyday. Heart breaking and heart warming in equal measures. A book that should be read by every teenager. Stevie is a (friendless) young career, struggling with her mum’s depression, poverty and school life, who meets a young Syrian refugee - Hafiz. Hafiz has his own struggles, forced to flee Syria (alone - leaving his home, family and friends behind) to endure the arduous and life threatening journey to his Aunt and Uncle in the UK. These two ordinary teenagers, forced together at school, find a friendship they were not expecting. Each has a passion - Stevie with her love of music and Hafiz with his love of football. Despite their differences and (until the end) not truly understanding the other's struggles, their friendship gives them each a glimpse of what happiness is."
'"The Fox and the White Gazelle is a glorious and inspiring, if sometimes heartbreaking, story of the power of hope, understanding and friendship. Set in Glasgow the story is told from the point of view of the two main characters - Caylin, a school bully who we soon discovering is fighting a battle of her own and Reema, a Syrian refugee who is trying to fit in to a new country with a new language, far from all she has ever known. Over the course of the book the girls form an uneasy bond, neither of them feeling like they fit in. Their friendship develops through a shared love of running and of the discovery of a litter of fox cubs who they endeavour to look after. The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is a masterful piece of writing which exhibits themes of friendship, belonging, empathy, understanding and, most of all, hope. This is a book that deserves to be read by older primary school children and beyond. It is a book that forces us to look inside ourselves and reassess how we could all be a little bit kinder and a little bit more understanding. Beautifully written and essential reading."
"Beautiful and thought-provoking picture book for upper KS2 looking at a modern conflict with displaced children on one side of a barrier contained by soldiers and uses stunning imagery and inference of a vine growing across a divide. The implication is that this is the Palestinian/Israeli conflict although it does not need to be used in this context. The children I have used this with were blown away by the imagery and loved looking at this book over and over again."
"When new girl Nadima arrives at school speaking very little English she struggles to make friends until Jas reaches out a hand of friendship by sharing her chocolate. Nadima’s experiences as a refugee are incredibly difficult for her friends to relate to, they can never truly understand what her life was like in Syria. This thoughtful story cleverly captures the fear and brutality she has experienced in a powerful and moving way."
"A story about a Chinese girl called Mia living in America with her parents, this book explores the themes of immigration, prejudice, poverty, institutionalised racism and what it looks like to hold onto hope in turbulant times. Mia's account of the difficulties her family faces as immigrants in modern day America is moving and powerful. Recommended for upper KS2."
The story of 11 year old Lam who flees her home in Vietnam in 1979 and arrives in a refugee camp.
Mia lives in a motel and its her parents job to clean it. They have been hiding immigrants in the empty rooms, which Mia needs to keep secret. Meanwhile Mia dreams of becoming a writer.
KS4 and Young Adult
Reading the personal story in this graphic novel brings home the realities behind what is happening to many migrants and in particular the uncertainties they face. Alpha – a man from Côte d’Ivoire – tells how he attempts to travel from Abidjan to Paris, searching for his wife and son who have gone there in pursuit of a better life and because they believe their relatives are there. He tells his tale in a matter of fact tone but it is far from being devoid of emotion. The harshness and difficulties, the confusion of not being clear where you are, the long periods staying in one place to earn enough to continue, the dangers and the bureaucracy he meets all come across, but so do the companionship and caring for others he finds along the way. The reader travels with Alpha, not knowing whether he will reach his destination or whether he will find his family. Illustrator Barroux has used felt tip pens and a notebook from a supermarket – the kind of materials that would be available to Alpha – to create his illustrations. Alpha is primarily a book for teenagers and adults but teachers can make their own judgement about whether they could share it with older primary children if they know them well. It deals impressively with an important subject for all human beings in the world today.
The twenty-five contributors to this book provide a wide range of thought-provoking stories and poems about human rights which will stimulate discussion among teenagers and adults. Many of the stories have content that renders them not generally suitable for use in primary schools but it’s an important read for teachers. Contributors include Jackie Kay, Neil Gaiman, Bali Rai, Sarah Crossan, Frances Hardinge, John Boyne, A. L. Kennedy, Sita Brahmachari, Amy Leon, Matt Haig, Kevin Brooks. Teachers’ notes for
Illustrators from around the world were invited to contribute to an exhibition called ‘Migrations’ by sending an illustration and an accompanying message on a postcard. Over fifty of them were selected to be reproduced in this beautiful compact volume. Readers can admire and explore the artwork – each picture created using an illustrator’s own unique style and techniques and each one including a representation of a bird. The postcards are divided into four broad themes: Departures, Long Journeys, Arrivals; Hope for the Future.
Alix doesn’t want any trouble with the local bullies. But when she defends Samir, a boy who has recently joined their school, she finds herself pulled into his world – and, in the process, learning and growing in her understanding of the world. Samir is from Iraq, seeking refuge in England. When Alix and Samir find a man close to drowning in the sea, Alix finds that she has to make a choice between what is safe and what is right. This is a book about a serious subject which nonetheless preserves a warmth, comic touch and an optimistic approach. The least likely characters turn out to have hidden, empathetic depths, and the end is a resolution as full of hope as possible. It explores important, sobering topics like torture and the events that drive people to travel across the world to seek refuge, without at any point being bleak.
Esra, Miran and Isa are enslaved children, kidnapped by a ruthless gang after they lost their families fleeing from war. As the book begins, they are locked underground, with only water from the sprinkler to drink. Beaten and brutalised emotionally as well as physically, they still hold onto hope. Finally, they escape their prison, but Miran is separated from the others. Esra and Isa meet Skeet, a boy who has almost as much to escape from as they do, and with him they create the Riverman out of mud. Can the Riverman lead them to freedom? Fraillon’s style is powerful and the subject matter important, but the misery and brutality, especially in the first third of the book, makes this a harrowing read. It is best suited to older readers, unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. However, Skeet’s voice provides much-needed humour and the ending is, eventually, happy.
As a newly-independent Singapore struggles to establish its own identity and economic stability, a single father in the Punjabi Sikh community tries his hardest to keep his family intact. His teenage daughter goes missing one night and returns a seemingly different person. Her brother is sent to America in the hope that he will learn how to be a real man. Meanwhile, her eldest sibling attempts to live up to the expectations of his father and their community. Spanning several decades, this astonishing novel presents the emergence of a fledgling nation and its shifting attitudes towards gender, sexuality, mental health and religious imperatives, as they affect the members of one family. These changes take their toll on the family - but also push them to find out who they really are and deserve to be.
Femi and Sade’s father is a journalist, a truth-teller, and someone who gets on the wrong side of the Nigerian authorities. When their mother is shot dead in front of them, the bullet was meant for him.
Sade and her brother are ripped from their comfortable, happy life and sent to England for their safety – illegally and against their will. This novel wholly deserves its classic status. The Other Side of Truth won the Carnegie Medal in 2000 but the trauma and murder endured by Sade and her family, and their experience of fleeing the familiar to become refugees in an alien country, is still relevant and poignant. Seen through the eyes of two brave, but frightened, children, this is a story of terror, loss, love and humanity. Naidoo never falls into the trap of making this a narrative of white saviours, or painting England as a rescuing paradise: Femi and Sade are traumatised, and they want to go home. Their struggle is theirs, their bravery comes from their identity and although they find friends in England, their longing for Nigeria, the past and home is unquenchable and the author never shies away from exploring their complex emotions.
In 1945, the Second World War is drawing to a bloody end. For the German people and their surrounding allies, it is a time to flee from the approaching Russian army, whose terrifying reputation for rape and slaughter precede them. Without food or possessions, a small group band together in an attempt to reach the boats taking civilians to safety. Among them are Joana, Florian and Emilia - a heavily pregnant 15-year-old Polish girl. Their cross-country trek is brutal and violent - but will the boat be any better? This heart-breaking historical fiction highlights the devastation wrought by war on the lives of innocent civilians. Despite the divide in the group, the protagonists see no differences between themselves. They are all just desperate refugees searching for safety. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, allowing insight into their backgrounds and war-torn lives. For this book, Sepetys exhaustively researched the devastating sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German evacuation ship, in which an estimated 9,000 people drowned. Her fictional account of this tragic event is brilliantly written and tremendously sad.
Driven by drought, starvation and conflict, Rosa and Sunday have both undertaken perilous journeys across continents – only to end up in Hawk Rise, a decaying tower block scheduled for demolition. Homeless, identity-less, Sunday is the caretaker; despite his situation, he worries about the inhabitants, especially Rosa, who supports her ailing mother. Rosa’s optimism is unshakeable: against all odds, she starts a garden in Hawk Rise’s wasteland convinced it can unite the residents – immigrants and pensioners alike - who are facing eviction. An absorbing story from the viewpoint of those at society’s edges who never stop hoping: as Sunday realises, 'only over time did one learn how it was not the quality of the construction but the quality of the people which rendered a place habitable'.
Forced to flee Afghanistan or face execution by the Taliban, Aliya and her family are still reeling from the shock of being resettled on a run-down London estate when her brother is implicated in what appears to be a terrorist plot. Convinced of her brother's innocence, Aliya forms an unlikely alliance with local boy Dan and the two end up risking life and limb to uncover a twisted truth that the authorities seem unwilling to accept. Complex plotting, thoughtful characterisation and terrifying insights into a world of organised crime will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The use of dual narrators adds to the drama as Dan and Aliya fight to stay alive long enough to secure justice.
In the midst of a seemingly never-ending winter, Magda gradually loses all the things that give her life direction and meaning. Her grandmother is dead, the other inhabitants of her small Polish village have been evacuated and her mother is hundreds of miles away in London. She eventually finds a way to reach London with the help of Ivan, an enigmatic and unreliable nomad. But London is a nightmare and instead of finding her mother’s welcoming arms, the pair find themselves walking into a nightmare. From the author of After the Snow, this powerful young adult novel creates an apocalyptic vision of global climate change. Crockett explores the best and worst aspects of human nature and the value of self-reliance
Sofia and her family flee their Mozambique village after her father is killed by bandits. They attempt to start afresh, but the dangers of war are ever-present, and Sofia is forced to rebuild her life again when she and her sister are involved in a landmine explosion. This beautiful story of tragedy and hope succeeds in being an eminently positive read, delivered with sensitivity but without sentimentality.
For young and carefree Arn, life is an adventure. He loves to play soldier and visit the local river with his best friend Hong, where they jump around like frogs. Yet, when the Khumer Rouge comes into power, Arn’s world is turned upside down. With this new rule comes terror and with death all around him, Arn must fight for survival. Separated from his family, Arn is soon forced to into hard labour, starvation and crime. Patricia McCormick sheds light on the history of Cambodia in this moving story. Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, now an activist, this is a powerful and inspiring novel that will stay with readers long after they have finished the book. Dealing with some difficult issues and including graphic scenes throughout, this book is not suited to younger or more sensitive readers.
'Amina is headstrong and outspoken; sometimes she speaks before she thinks things through and can get lost in her own imagination. This sounds harmless enough but Amina and her family are living under a dangerous dictatorship through a time of national crisis. These actions are seen as rebellion, even a stray smile can get you noticed for the wrong reasons so Amina can't hide her excitement when the 'liberation' arrives to take the power from the Kwana and restore it to the people.She is sure that a new life is just around the corner, but when her brother goes missing and is feared to have joined the rebels Amina and the rest of her family get a visit from the officials that will tear their lives apart. Amina and her sister set out for one of the country's aid camps that promises security and refuge, but the reality is that too many people are seeking the same things and the camp is just another type of a limited life.This brutal reality and the tragic story act as a sharp contrast to the free spirit and strong will of our feisty heroine. Amina finds her talents in storytelling, bringing comfort to herself and those around her in their darkest hours. She is honest and brave but remains believable in her acts of defiance.
This collection ranges from the depiction of a street family's poverty in Kenya and illegal trading of children in Gabon to inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria and Ethiopia and the terrible situation faced by a mixed Hutu-Tsutsi family in Rwanda. Akpan's stories, told from the viewpoints of children (the innocent victims) are powerful, vivid and deeply moving.
In the summer of 1877, around 700 members of the Nez Perce Native American tribe set out on an epic 1,700-mile journey through the American West. Forced from their homeland by the great 19th-century wave of settlement from the east, the Nez Perce passed through mountains, forests, badlands and prairies and had to fight battles and skirmishes with the pursuing United States Army as they raced towards the Canadian border. Schofield retraces this remarkable exodus, telling not only the story of the tribe’s fight for survival, but also the destructive legacy of a westward migration initially predicated on patriotism and religious zeal.
This list was compiled with information from various sources, including: