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Books about refugees

Fiction for children

The Journey of Halima (2016)

The ‘Mermix’ non profit theatre company based in Greece has created a fairytale titled ‘The Journey of Halima’, based on Syrian folk tales, in order to keep refugee children company during their own journey from the war zone they escaped to their destination countries, and to sensitize all children to the problems refugees face. Published as a trilingual book (Arabic – Farsi – English), it will be distributed free of charge to refugee children. Apart from the printed version, a digital version of the fairytale will be available free of charge, translated into several languages at www.thejourneyofhalima.com.

Refugee Boy (2015)

Benjamin Zephaniah
A novel for young adults about the complex issue of refugees. Alem is on holiday with his father for a few days in London. He has never been out of Ethiopia before and is very excited. They have a great few days together until one morning when Alem wakes up in the bed and breakfast they are staying at to find the unthinkable. His father has left him. It is only when the owner of the bed and breakfast hands him a letter that Alem is given an explanation. Alem’s father admits that because of the political problems in Ethiopia both he and Alem’s mother felt Alem would be safer in London – even though it is breaking their hearts to do this. Alem is now on his own, in the hands of the social services and the Refugee Council. He lives from letter to letter, waiting to hear from his father, and in particular about his mother, who has now gone missing…A powerful, gripping new novel from the popular Benjamin Zephaniah

Christophe’s Story (2006)

Nicki Cornwell
This book tells the story of eight-year old Christophe who flees the fighting in Rwanda to come to England as a refugee with his family. It is about his difficulty settling in to his new home and also about the notion of telling stories and awareness-raising.

Walk in My Shoes (2004)

Alwyn Evans
Aimed at secondary students, this book tells of an Afghan refugee, Gulnessa, who struggles to establish a life for herself and her family in Australia. They are confined in a detention centre for people seeking asylum, and forced to prove their refugee status.

Girl Underground (2004)

Morris Gleitzman
This novel tells the story of Bridget and Menzies, who devise a daring plan to rescue two kids, Jamal and Bibi, from a desert detention centre.

Soraya the Storyteller (2004)

Rosanne Hawke
Aimed at upper primary students, this story tells of 11 year old Soraya. Soraya is an asylum seeker from Afghanistan living under the shadow of Australia’s former temporary protection visa system. As she adapts to life in Australia, she is haunted by both her father’s absence and the fear that she may have to return to Afghanistan. To console herself, she begins writing stories.

Home is a Place Called Nowhere (2002)

Leon Rosselson
Suitable for teenagers, this topical, fast-paced novel deals with issues of discrimination and prejudice against refugees. Amina runs away to London after a crisis in her adoptive family, hoping to track down her mother and to discover the truth about her apparent abandonment. Paul, an older and more streetwise runaway, helps her to make contact with the refugee community. It is by listening to other people and their stories that she comes, finally, to understand her own.

Boy Overboard (2002)

By Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman writes of Jamal, who just wants to play football, but with a sister defying Taliban curfews and parents running an illegal school, his problems escalate until the whole family must flee Afghanistan in search of refuge in Australia. Serious themes and dilemmas are presented with a large ration of humour and morals derived from the beautiful game: namely, never give up!

For Every Child (2000)

Adapted by Caroline Castle
For Every Child is picture book which details the 15 most important rights of the child. Each right has a specific illustration in a different style by a different artist around the world. This could lead to a discussion about why people may have to flee from their own country.

The Red Shadow (1998)

By Shelley Davidow

Miri, a young refugee girl, returns home to her village after the end of the war. The story follows the rebuilding of her village and Miri’s reunification with her brother and, eventually, her father.

Along the Tracks (1991)

By Tamar Bergman

This story recounts the adventures of a young Jewish boy who is driven from his home by the German invasion, becomes a refugee in the Soviet Union, is separated from his family, and undergoes many hardships before enjoying a normal home again.

Kiss the Dust (1991)

By Elizabeth Laird

This book tells the story of Tara and her family as they are forced to flee Iraq because of her father’s involvement in the Kurdish resistance movement.

The Other Side of Truth (2000)

By Beverley Naidoo

Aimed at teenagers, this topical novel is set during 1995 in the aftermath of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution in Nigeria for alleged political crimes. It tackles multiple themes, most importantly injustice, the right to freedom of speech, the complexities of political asylum, bullying and, ultimately, the strength of the family.

Home is a Place Called Nowhere (2002)

By Leon Rosselson

Suitable for teenagers, this topical, fast-paced novel deals with issues of discrimination and prejudice against refugees. Amina runs away to London after a crisis in her adoptive family, hoping to track down her mother and to discover the truth about her apparent abandonment. Paul, an older and more streetwise runaway, helps her to make contact with the refugee community. It is by listening to other people and their stories that she comes, finally, to understand her own.

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