Refugee Experiences: Books for Children

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How do we talk to children about the current refugee crisis? Books can be a great place to start! The following books tell the stories of children forced to leave home. While talking to children about serious subjects can be hard, reading these titles together, talking about them, and making connections to your children’s own experiences can make it much easier.

The Journey

Explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leaves their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

A young Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany arrives in New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah and receives small acts of kindness while exploring the city. This title is available as an eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

The Suitcase

When a weary stranger arrives one day with nothing but a suitcase, his new neighbors ask nervous questions about who he is and where he comes from before they are challenged to decide between trusting the newcomer or taking the risk of not believing him. 

Hear My Voice

A first-person account of children’s experiences in detention at the southern U.S. border, featuring sworn testimonies from 61 of these children, who range in age from five to seventeen and hail from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico. This title is also available as an eBook on Libby/OverDrive, or as an eBook on Hoopla.

Illegal

Ebo has lost his parents and doesn’t know where his sister went when his brother decides to go in search of her. Left alone, he decides to travel in search of his brother, starting a journey that will take him from Ghana, through the Sahara Desert, and hopefully across the Mediterranean to safety. You can also check out this title as an eBook on Overdrive/Libby, as an eBook on Hoopla, and in eAudio on Hoopla.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

When her beloved country, Chile, is taken over by a sadistic, militaristic government, Celeste is sent to America for her safety and her parents must go into hiding before they “disappear.” This title is also available on Hoopla as eAudiobook.

Stormy Seas : Stories of Young Boat Refugees

Presents five true stories, from 1939 to today, about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the United States from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; and after losing his family, Mohamed abandons his village on the Ivory Coast in search of a new life. This title is also available as an eBook on Hoopla.

When Stars Are Scattered

Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp. When an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother. This title is also available as an eBook on Libby/OverDrive or as an eAudiobook on Hoopla.