HomeParents, carers and children → Check out our top children's titles for Refugee Week

Check out our top children's titles for Refugee Week

Written by · Published Jun 13, 2019

The Suitcase, Inside Out & Back Again, Forced to Flee

Created: 18 June 2018 Last updated: 13 June 2019

The Suitcase, by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

“When a strange-looking animal arrives pulling a big suitcase, the other animals are curious. What on earth could be inside the suitcase? When the animals break into the suitcase and discover a very special photograph, they begin to understand what the strange creature has been through, and together they create a very special welcome present.”

Kind, by Alison Green & Axel Scheffler

“With gorgeous pictures by a host of top illustrators, Kind is a timely, inspiring picture book about the many ways children can be kind, from sharing their toys and games to making those from other countries feel welcome.”

There’s Room for Everyone, by Anahita Taymourian

“A child grows and discovers the world. As he lies awake at night, he sees there’s enough room in the sky for all the stars and the moon. When he visits the ocean, he sees there is enough room for all the fish, even for the whales. As he grows up, he doesn’t understand why people fight for space. Surely, if we are kinder to one another, there will always be room for everyone?”

Elmer and the Hippos, by David McKee

“The hippos have come to live in the elephants’ river, because their own has dried up. The elephants are not happy to be sharing. Elmer discovers the dry river could be solved, but only if the hippos and the elephants drop their prejudices and work in unison.”

We Are All Born Free: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pictures, by Amnesty International (ed.)

“World War Two to declare and protect the rights of all people from all countries. This beautiful collection celebrates each declaration with an illustration by an internationally-renowned artist or illustrator.”

Dreams of Freedom: in words and pictures, by Amnesty International (ed.)

“This inspirational book, following We Are All Born Free, contains 17 quotations about many different aspects of freedom, from the freedom to have an education to the freedom not to be hurt or tortured, the freedom to have a home and the freedom to be yourself. All the quotations have been chosen to be understood and appreciated by children.”

Frog and the Stranger, by Max Veltuijs

“When Rat comes to live at the edge of their wood, the animals decide they don’t like having a stranger in their midst. But Frog is friendly by nature, and decides to find out if Rat is really as unpleasant as he is made out to be. As Frog discovers, Rat is intelligent and good hearted, and proves in a series of unexpected emergencies that the other animals have been too quick to condemn him.”

The Journey Home, by Frann Preston-Gannon

“A lone polar bear decides that he can’t stay in the arctic as the ice is melting around him and he is hungry. He builds a boat and sails across the oceans picking up other endangered creatures along his way; an orangutan who is surrounded by tree stumps; an elephant who is trying to out-run a poacher and a panda without a home.”

Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles, by Steve Anthony

“The green lizards and the red rectangles are at war. They fight and fight and fight - can there ever be a way to live peacefully together?”

Wanda and the Alien, by Sue Hendra

“What would you do if you found an alien? Would you run screaming and try and scare him away? Or would you show him all the best things to do?

“In this story about accepting differences and sharing, Wanda and the alien become best friends. But where are all of Wanda’s friends?”

A Child’s Garden, by Michael Foreman

“A boy’s world is ruin and rubble, with a wire fence and soldiers separating him from the cool hills where his father used to take him as a small child. Can a tiny, green plant shoot give him hope in a bleak landscape?”

The Colour of Home, by Mary Hoffman & Karin Littlewood

“Hassan feels out of place in a new, cold, grey country. At school he paints a picture showing his colourful Somalian home, covered with harsh colours of war from which his family fled. Things change and Hassan begins to see the new colours of home.”

Beegu, by Alexis Deacon

“Beegu isn’t supposed to be on Earth. She is lost. She is a friendly little creature, but the Earth People don’t seem very welcoming at all. However, so far she has only met the ‘big’ ones. The little ones are a different matter.”

Rabbit & Bear: Attack of the Snack, by Julian Gough & Jim Field

“Splash! A mysterious thing lands in Rabbit and Bear’s peaceful summer lake. Is it exciting, or terrifying? Is it a tiny fluffy owl, or a huge hungry monster? And has Rabbit finally met a creature with worse habits than himself? Rabbit’s sure he can solve this mystery. But when he accidentally turns the Best Day Ever into the Worst Day Ever, he needs Bear’s help.”

The Journey, by Francesca Sanna

“With haunting echoes of current affairs, this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war.”

My Name is Not Refugee, by Kate Milner

“A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too.

“This powerful and moving story draws young readers into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.”

This is a super-readable Barrington Stoke title which can be enjoyed by children with dyslexia and visual stress.

Me and My Fear, by Francesca Sanna

“When a young girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, her Fear tells her to be alone and afraid. How can she hope to make friends if she doesn’t understand their language? A heart-warming and relevant new tale from the bestselling author and illustrator of The Journey, this book shows us the importance of sharing your Fear with others - after all, everyone carries a Fear with them, even if it’s small enough to fit into their pocket!”

The Day War Came, by Nicola Davies & Rebecca Cobb

“Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came. Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone. Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious…

“When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter this country 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.”

The Arrival, by Shaun Tan

“What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown?

“This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.”

The Breadwinner, by Shelley Tanaka, Deborah Ellis & Anita Doron

“This graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana, who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.”

War and Peas, by Michael Foreman

“Food is scarce in the land of King Lion. Fat King, ruler of the neighbouring, very rich, country, refuses to help. War is declared. But the people of the Fat King’s land are too fat for their equipment.”

The Silence Seeker, by Ben Morley & Carl Pearce

“When a new family moves in next door, Joe’s mum explains that they are asylum seekers. Joe hears that they are silence seekers, especially as mum adds that they need peace and quiet.

“When he sees a young boy from the family sitting disconsolately on the steps, Joe decides to help him find a quiet place in the noisy and chaotic city.”

The Island, by Armin Greder

“In the morning the people of the island found a man sitting on the shore, there where fate and the ocean currents had set him and his frail raft in the night. When he saw them coming towards him, he rose to his feet.

“He was not like them.”

Azzi In Between, by Sarah Garland

“Azzi and her parents are in danger. They have to leave their home and escape to another country on a frightening journey by car and boat. In the new country they must learn to speak a new language, find a new home and Azzi must start a new school.

“With a kind helper at the school, Azzi begins to learn English and understand that she is not the only one who has had to flee her home. She makes a new friend, and with courage and resourcefulness, begins to adapt to her new life. But Grandma has been left behind and Azzi misses her more than anything. Will Azzi ever see her grandma again?”

Refuge, by Anne Booth & Sam Usher

“This is a timely and timeless retelling of the Christmas story, inspired by refugee children everywhere.”

Here I Am, by Patti Kim & Sonia Sánchez

“Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in this dazzling wordless picture book.”

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, by Victoria Williamson

“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.”

The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf

“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 eight 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.”

Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

“Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee - fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama - this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.

“Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope - toward America.”

A Story like the Wind, by Gill Lewis & Jo Weaver

“In a small boat spinning out on the sea sits a group of refugees, fleeing their war-stricken homes. They have nothing - except their memories, their stories, and their music. In this very special, lyrical fable, beautifully illustrated by Jo Weaver, Gill Lewis weaves an unforgettable tale of displacement, hope, and the search for freedom.”

The Other Side of Truth, by Beverley Naidoo

“12-year-old Sade and her brother Femi have to flee Nigeria when their mother is killed and their father criticises the military rulers. The woman who brings them to London abandons them and they are alone in a new, often hostile, environment.”

The Silver Sword, by Ian Serraillier & David Frankland

“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.”

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Bombs on Aunt Dainty, by Judith Kerr

“Partly autobiographical, these are first and second books in a trilogy by Judith Kerr, telling the story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War.”

Nadine Dreams of Home< by Bernard Ashley & Ollie Cuthbertson

“Nadine hates her new life. She doesn’t speak the language, she can’t understand what’s going on, and more than anything, it’s just not home. Especially since her father isn’t here with them in the UK.

“But it just wasn’t safe in Goma anymore, not with the uprising and the violence of the rebel soldiers. So Nadine tries to find something in her new life that will remind her of happy memories of Africa.”

This is a super-readable Barrington Stoke title which can be enjoyed by children with dyslexia and visual stress.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

“It is 1943 and for 10 year old Annemarie life is still fun. But there are worries too - the Nazis have occupied Copenhagen and there are food shortages, curfews and the threat of being stopped by soldiers and Annemarie’s best friend is a Jew.”

Boy Overboard, by Morris Gleitzman

“Jamal and Bibi have a dream to lead Australia to football glory in the next World Cup. But first they must face landmines, pirates, storms and assassins.”

Girl Underground, by Morris Gleitzman

“All Bridget wants is to lead a quiet life - but, when a boy named Menzies makes her an offer she can’t refuse, she finds herself in the midst of a plan to rescue two kids from a detention centre. Can Bridget and Menzies set them free before it is too late?”

Home is a Place Called Nowhere, by Leon Rosselson

“Anima has lived for most of her life with a foster family who took her in when she came to the country as a refugee, and was separated from her mother. But, she is driven to run away from her foster home after an argument with her foster brother. She takes refuge in a deserted house where she meets Paul.”

Oranges in No Man’s Land, by Elizabeth Laird

“Since her father left Lebanon to find work and her mother tragically died in a shell attack, ten-year-old Ayesha has been living in the bomb-ravaged city of Beirut with her granny and her two younger brothers. The city has been torn in half by civil war and a desolate, dangerous no man’s land divides the two sides. Only militiamen and tanks dare enter this deadly zone, but when Granny falls desperately ill, Ayesha sets off on a terrifying journey to reach a doctor living in enemy territory.”

The Kites are Flying!, by Michael Morpurgo & Laura Carlin

“Travelling to the West Bank to witness how life is for Palestinians and Jews living in the shadow of a dividing wall, journalist Max strikes up a friendship with a Palestinian boy, Said. As Max is welcomed as a guest, he learns of the terrible events in the family’s past and begins to understand why Said no longer speaks.”

Shadow, by Michael Morpurgo

“When Shadow, a bomb-sniffing spaniel, goes missing in the middle of wartorn Afghanistan, his soldier-owner is devastated. Meanwhile, Shadow makes friends with a local Afghan boy, and sees a whole other side of the war. As Christmas draws ever closer, will Shadow and his trainer ever be reunited?”

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, by Siobhan Curham

“Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum, and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician.

“Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy.”

Red Leaves, by Sita Brahmachari

“Aisha is a thirteen-year-old refugee living in London. Happy for the first time since leaving her war-torn home, she is devastated when her foster mother announces that a new family has been found for her and she will be moving on. Feeling rejected and abandoned, Aisha packs her bags and runs away, seeking shelter in the nearby woods.

“Meanwhile, a few doors down, twelve-year-old Zak is trying to cope with his parents’ divorce. Living in a near-building site while the new house is being refurbished, he feels unsettled and alone.”

The Unforgotten Coat, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Carl Hunter & Clare Heney

“Two refugee brothers from Mongolia are determined to fit in with their Liverpool schoolmates, but bring so much of Mongolia to Bootle that their new friend & guide, Julie, is hard-pressed to know truth from fantasy as she recollects a friendship that was abruptly ended when Chingis & his family were forced to return to Mongolia.”

Uprooted, by Lynne Reid Banks

“In 1940 as war rages across Europe, ten-year-old Lindy waves goodbye to England and makes the long journey to Saskatoon, Canada, along with her mother and her cousin Cameron. They may be far from the war but they are also far from home and everyone they know and love. Life in Canada is very different but it is also full of exciting new adventures.”

Rachel’s Story, by Andy Glynne & Salvador Maldonado

“This picture book tells the story of 13-year-old refugee Rachel who, along with her family, flees her home country to escape the persecution they suffer as Christians living in a predominantly Muslim country. Told in Rachel’s own words, it documents the hostility and rejection that the family suffer at the hands of their community, as well as the courage and resilience they show in the face of immigration authorities, detention centres, deportation and, finally, in overcoming their problems and settling in their new country.”

Forced to Flee: refugee children drawing on their experiences

“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.”

Who are Refugees and Migrants? What Makes People Leave their Homes? And other big questions, by Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young

“What does it mean for people to have to leave their homes, and what happens when they seek entry to another country? This book explores the history of refugees and migration around the world and the effects on people of never-ending war and conflict. It compares the effects on society of diversity and interculturalism with historical attempts to create a racially ‘pure’ culture.”

Sophie Green

Sophie Green

I work for the Suffolk Libraries stock team. I also write children’s fiction, short stories and comedy. Visit my website.