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Refugee Week Reading Ideas for Children and Young Adults

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20 June 2022

Children and YA titles

Miriam Halahmy: Yasmin’s Journey

15-year-old Yasmin lives with her parents and six-year-old brother Ali in a small town in Syria. The country is at war, and after her father is injured in a bomb blast Yasmin is forced to leave Syria with Ali to find a new life for them both. Her difficult journey takes her through the refugee camps of Turkey, into Greece and ultimately to Western Europe. In the face of many terrors and terrible dangers, Yasmin strikes up a romantic friendship with 16-year-old Kamal. Can they find peace and safety together?

Read Miriam Halahmy: Yasmin’s Journey

 

Manjit Mann: The Crossing

Natalie's world has turned upside down. She's lost her mum and her brother is descending further and further into anger and violence with a far-right gang who march the streets of Dover. Sammy has fled his home and family in Eritrea for the chance of a new life in Europe. Every step he takes is a step into the unknown - into a strange country and a hidden future. A twist of fate brings these two teens from opposite sides of the channel together, but will their journey end in hope or despair?

Read Manjit Mann: The Crossing

 

 Malala Yousouf: I am Malala

'I am Malala' tells the inspiring story of a schoolgirl who was determined not to be intimidated by extremists, and faced the Taliban with immense courage. Malala speaks of her continuing campaign for every girl's right to an education, shining a light into the lives of those children who cannot attend school.

Read Malala Yousouf: I am Malala

 

Forced to flee: Refugee Children drawing on their experience

Refugee children explain in their own words and pictures their thoughts, feelings and experiences about having to flee from their home countries. Produced in association with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), this highly emotive title focuses on three current refugee crises in Syria, South Sudan and Central America.

Read Forced to flee: Refugee Children drawing on their experience

 

Cath Senker: Far From Home

 

What if you had to leave your home and you could never go back? What do you think that would be like? For millions of Syrian and Iraqi citizens (and for people from many other nations around the world), these are the question they face. The current, desperate situation in their homelands and the mass migrations from the Middle East is both shocking to us, and sadly nothing new. 'Far From Home' addresses the clear need for a balanced and informative book on this complex topic. It examines the root causes of mass migrations from both a historical and current perspective.

Read Cath Senker: Far From Home

 

Sita Brahmachari: Worry Angels

Amy May knows about webs of worries - so many people she meets are caught in them, from her own artist dad to newly arrived refugee Rima and her family. By being brave enough to open up her worry box, Amy May helps all those around her find a way forward.

Read Sita Brahmachari: Worry Angels

 

Catherine Bruton: No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Eleven year old Aya has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria. When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship. But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves, and to find Aya's father - separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria.

Read Catherine Bruton: No Ballet Shoes in Syria

 

Eoin Colfer: Illegal

A powerful and timely story about one boy's epic journey across Africa to Europe, a graphic novel for all children with glorious colour artwork throughout. Ebo: alone. His sister left months ago. Now his brother has disappeared too, and Ebo knows it can only be to make the hazardous journey to Europe. Ebo's epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his sister.

Read Eoin Colfer: Illegal

 

Alan Gibbons: Home Ground

Sam's team are edging closer to the bottom of the league this season and team captain Jordan's bad attitude isn't helping anyone. When Sam spots Hasan playing on the refugee team, he can see that Hasan's got talent and invites him along to practice. Hasan and his friend Faisal prove to be exactly what the team need - but Jordan's not going to accept his new teammates so easily.

Read Alan Gibbons: Home Ground

 

Victoria Jamieson: When Stars are Scattered

Omar and his brother Hassan, two Somali boys, have spent a long time in the Dadaab refugee camp. Separated from their mother, they are looked after by a friendly stranger. 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 fairytale ending, this incredible true story depicts life in a refugee camp.

Read Victoria Jamieson: When Stars are Scattered

 

Judith Kerr: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Partly autobiographical, this is first of the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War.

Read Judith Kerr: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

 

Elizabeth Laird: Welcome to Nowhere

12-year-old Omar and his siblings were born and raised in the beautiful, bustling city of Bosra, Syria. Omar doesn't care about politics - he wants to grow up to be a successful businessman, taking the world by storm. But when his clever older brother, Musa, gets mixed up with some young political activists, everything changes. Before long, bombs are falling, people are dying, and Omar and his family have no choice but to flee their home with only what they can carry. Yet no matter how far they run, the shadow of war follows them - until they have no other choice than to attempt the dangerous journey to escape their homeland altogether. But where do you go when you can't go home?

Read Elizabeth Laird: Welcome to Nowhere

 

Onjali Rauf: The Boy at the Back of the Class

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn't like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But the truth is, Ahmet really isn't very strange at all. He's a refugee who's run away from a war. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to be his friend. That's where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we've come up with a plan.

Read Onjali Rauf: The Boy at the Back of the Class

 

Ian Serraillier: The Silver Sword

The night the Nazis come to take their mother away, three children escape in a terrifying scramble across the rooftops. Alone in the chaos of Warsaw, they have to learn to survive on their own.

Read Ian Serraillier: The Silver Sword

 

Victoria Williamson: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she's lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, 12-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn't the only one feeling lost. Her Glaswegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn't a place, it's the people you love.

Read Victoria Williamson: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

 

Marie-Louise Jensen: Finding Hope

Orphan refugee, Faly, has a dark and troubled past. When she is adopted into a new family, she finds it hard to adjust. So does Jake, whose life of show-jumping and caring for his horse, Thunder, is suddenly interrupted by a new sister that he never asked for - a sister who won't even speak to him.

Read Marie-Louise Jensen: Finding Hope

 

Nicola Davies: The Day War Came

When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter the UK in 2016, Nicola Davies was so angry she wrote a poem. It started a campaign for which artists contributed drawings of chairs, symbolising a seat in a classroom, education, kindness, the hope of a future. The poem has become this book, movingly illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, which should prove a powerful aid for explaining the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers

Read Nicola Davies: The Day War Came

 

 Zana Fraillon: Wisp – A Story of Hope

Idris is a child refugee, born into a world of tents and fences. He has known no other life than this. He has no memories of the world outside. Then the Wisp arrives, floating in on the evening breeze. Everyone who holds it finds their memories reawakened, their hopes of freedom reborn. But what about Idris, who has no memories? What will happen when he holds the magical Wisp.

Read  Zana Fraillon: Wisp – A Story of Hope