Refugee Council of Australia
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Books about refugees

Non-fiction books for children and young adults

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.

W is for World: Around the World ABC (1998)

By Kathryn Cave (in conjunction with Oxfam)

This alphabet book looks at the daily life of adults and children around the world. Suitable for 5-9 year olds, it encouraging a message about basic human rights of shelter, food, water, health and education.

Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories by Young Writers aged 11-20 (2004)

Edited by Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar and Eva Sallis
An anthology of essays, interviews, and stories on various aspects of the refugee experience, written by children and young adults.

Children of War: Iraqi Refugees Speak (2009)

By Deborah Ellis

Written five years after the US and it allies invaded Iraq – but with true democracy still out of sight – Deborah Ellis turns her attention to the war’s most tragic victims: Iraqi children. She interviews more than 20 young Iraqis, mostly refugees living in Jordan, but also a few trying to build new lives in North America. Some families left Iraq with money; others are penniless, ill, or disabled. Most of the parents are working illegally or not at all, and the fear of deportation is a constant threat. The children speak for themselves, with little editorial comment, and their stories are frank, harrowing, and often reveal a surprising resilience in surviving the consequences of a war in which they played no part.

Jumping to Heaven (2004)

By Katherine Goode

Children from Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Herzegovina, Iraq, Sudan, and Vietnam who have come to Australia to escape persecution are given a voice in this collection of short stories compiled from interviews with refugees. Written for a more mature youth, the stories evoke the sad, scary, thought-provoking, and sometimes amusing experiences of children and families who have displayed extraordinary courage and hope. This collection offers insight that seeks to bridge the gap between refugees and their new host communities, and gives youth a global perspective on the refugee experience.

Living in Australia Series: Sudanese Australians (2008)

By Robert Gott

This non-fiction book uses a variety of interviews to look into the customs and traditions of the Sudanese people living in Australia.

Refugee: It Happened to Me (2005)

By Angela Neustatter and Helen Elliott

This book features extended interviews with six children and young adults who are refugees or people seeking asylum. They came from various countries including Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Romania. The interviews are carefully constructed to cover both the emotional as well as the practical consequences of their refugee experiences. The aim is not to be sensational but, rather, empathetic and informative. Talking points and black and white photographs are also included.

Why do they have to fight? Refugee children’s stories from Bosnia, Kurdistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka (1998)

By Jill Rutter and Mano Candappa

Most of the testimonies used in this book were collected during a research project about refugee children. The books serves as a valuable resource for teachers, with the issues behind asylum and refugees are brought to life by these children’s stories and testimonies.

Gervelie’s Journey (2008)

By Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young

This is a true story of a young refugee. In 1995, Gervelie was born in the Republic of Congo. In 1997 fighting broke out in her home city and they had to flee to safety. Her father’s political connections mean that they are still unable to return home. This is Gervelie’s story, told using photographs from her own life. At the time of writing, Gervelie and her father were living in the UK, waiting to hear if their case for asylum would be accepted.

Mohammed’s Journey (2009)

By Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young

This story tells of Mohammed, who flees Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with his mother after his father is abducted by soldiers. It follows his escape from Iraq by bus, on horseback, in a small boat on a raging river and finally, hiding in a lorry on a ship. It covers his journey from Kirkuk to the Iraq-Iran border, through Iran, into Turkey and then on to England and safety.

Hazmat’s Journey (2009)

By Anthony Robinson

This story tells of Hazmat from Chechnya, who stepped on a landmine on his way to school. His leg had to be amputated and eventually he and his father came to the UK for expert treatment. As it was unsafe for them to return home, the family sought asylum in the UK. Eventually Hazmat’s mother and sister joined them in London and now the family are learning to adapt to their new life after the horror of living in a war zone. This poignant, and at times harrowing, story reveals the bravery of Hazmat and his family in facing and overcoming their circumstances to start a new life.

Meltem’s Journey (2010)

By Anthony Robinson

Meltem’s Journey describes as a family flees the Kurdish region of Turkey after Meltem’s father is badly beaten by soldiers. When their application for asylum is rejected in Germany, they undertake a desperate journey to Britain, unable to return to Turkey because of the circumstances of their departure. It takes 9 years for their application to succeed in Britain, but not before many stressful incidents, periods of detention and threats of deportation. Meltem’s story is told in her own words, in diary format, and conveys memorably the emotional highs and lows of her experiences.

Mapping Global Issues: Immigrants and Refugees (2012)

By Cath Senker

This information book quotes extensively from mixed-media sources to examine responses to refugee issues in different parts of the world and to debate notions of bias and prejudice. Combining photographs and varied texts in a lively format, it presents real-life case studies showing why people become refugees alongside a range of media viewpoints on their treatment in host societies.

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