Refugee week: 75+ recent children’s books about the refugee experience

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 9

RWlogoFor today’s contribution to the UK’s Refugee Week I’ve compiled a list of recent children’s books which explore the refugee experience. All the books below are published either in or after 2010.

In compiling this list I have referred to two earlier resources which focus on the same topic:

Collecting Children’s Refugee Literature: A Bibliography by Elisa Mason (2009)


Fiction resources compiled by Refugee Week

If a book appears in the bibliography by Mason or the list compiled by Refugee Week, I have not duplicated it in my list below.

Asylum by Rachel Anderson (2011)
90 miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis; Sonia Chaghatzbanian; Roaring Brook Press.; R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company. New York : Roaring Brook Press (2010)
A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk by Jan L. Coates (2011)
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (2010)
A Safe Place to Live by Bic Walker (2011)
A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (2012)
A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux and Y. Maudet (2010)
A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (2013)
Armel’s Revenge by Nicki Cornwell and Erika Pal (2011)
Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari (2011)
Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland (2012)


Bamboo people by Mitali Perkins (2010)
Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (2011)
Beyond the Dark Journey: Short stories and poems by young refugees in New Zealand (2010)
David’s journey: the story of David Jal, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan by David WalJal; Laura K Jacobs; Tracy Bezesky (2012)
Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Patridge (2011)
Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong (9 Mar 2010)
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda and Howard Curtis (2011)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2013)
Is it night or day? by Fern Schumer Chapman (2010).


Karenni strength: Ka Paw Say’s story by Ka Paw Say; Beth Rutten-Turner; Htoo May; Hong Jeung Moon (2011)
Last airlift: a Vietnamese orphan’s rescue from war by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (2011)
Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home by Youme (2010)
Meltem’s Journey: A Refugee Diary by Anthony Robinson and June Allan (2010)
My Shoes and I by Rene Colato Lainez, illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck (2010)
Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams (2012)
Rogue by by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (forthcoming)
Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay (2012)
Shooting Kabul by N H Senzai (2010)
That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone: An Anthology of Essays from Around the Globe by J. L. Powers (2012)
The Gnome’s Eye by Anna Kerz (2010)


The Good Braider by Terry Farish (2012)
The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant (2012)
The Lily Pond by Annika Thor and Linda Schenck (2011)
The Little Refugee by Anh Do, Suzanne Do and Bruce Whatley (2011)
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (2011)
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (2011)
The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells by Debbie Levy (2010)
Too Much Trouble by Tom Avery (2011)
Trouble by Gary D Schmidt (2010)
Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania by Haya Leah Molnar (2010)


In compiling this list I was helped enormously by members of the Rutgers Child-Lit list and the JISCcmail CHILDREN-LITERATURE-UK list. In some cases, I was recommended books published before 2010. Those pre-2010 books which do not appear in Mason’s bibliography or the list compiled by Refugee Week are listed below:

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck (2009)
A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2008)
A Place to Grow by Soyung Pak and Marcellino Truong (2002)
Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji (2008)
City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende (2002)
Christophe’s Story by Nicki Cornwell and Karin Littlewood (2006)
Diamonds in the shadow by Caroline B Cooney (2007)
Gervelie’s Journey: A Refugee Diary by Anthony Robinson, Annemarie Young and June Allan (2009)
Ghostscape by Joe Layburn and John Williams (2008)
Girl Underground by Morris Gleitzman (2005)


Goodbye, Vietnam by Gloria Whelan (1992)
Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (2009)
Hamzat’s Journey: A Refugee Diary by Anthony Robinson and June Allan (2009)
How many days to America?: a Thanksgiving story by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck (1988).
Jackdaw Summer by David Almond (2009)
Journey Home by Lawrence McKay, Dom Lee, Keunhee Lee and Lee Keunhee (2001)
Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino (2009)
Journey to America by Sonia Levitin (1970)
Kingdom of the Golden Dragon by Isabel Allende (2005)
Leaving Glorytown by Eduardo F. Calcines (2009)


Map of Dreams by Uri Shulevitz (2008) [I believe this is an alternative title to How I learned Geography]
Muktar and the camels by Janet Graber; Scott Mack (2009).
My name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams; Khadra Mohammed; Catherine Stock (2009).
Night Flight by Michaela Morgan and Erika Pal (2008)
No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel (2008)
Refugees by David Miller (2004)
Skyracer Purple – The Refugees: Purple Book by Janice Marriott (2003)
Tangled threads : a Hmong girl’s story by Pegi Deitz Shea (2003)
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat (2007)
The Best Eid Ever by Asma Mobin-Udin and Laura Jacobsen (2007)


The Roses in My Carpets by Rukhsana Khan and Ronald Himler (2004)
The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley and Carl Pearce (2009)
The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi and Tamim Ansary (2005)
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle (31 Mar 2009)
Waiting for Papa/Esperando a Papa by Rene Colato Lainez (2004)

Whilst compiling these lists I found or was sent several useful websites, of interest to librarians and teachers, with resources about refugees:

Other useful links:

  • Teacher resources from Refugee Week Australia
  • Escaping Conflict, Seeking Peace: Picture books that relate refugee stories, and their importance by Marjorie Coughlan; an article presented at IBBY Congress 2012
  • Children’s Books about the Refugee/Immigrant Experience, compiled by Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (a US organisation)
  • An essay by Nancy Bo Flood titled “Lost Children of Hiroshima and Today’s Refugees, What Should We Tell Our Children? (The Weird Kid Who Sits Next to Me, What Is Her Story?)”
  • A resource list from Salusbury World, a UK charity which specialises in supporting refugee children
  • A themed list of children’s books about refugees from Strathclyde University

  • My thanks go to Virginia Lowe, Nancy Bo Flood, Rachel Skrlac Lo, Alison Baker, Ann Dowker, Patricia Sarles, Anabel Marsh, Farah Mendlelsohn, Rukhsana Khan, Pat Bartoshesky, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Katherine Langrish, Penni Cotton, Marjorie Coughlan, Greg Leitich Smith, Angela Soutar, Julie Dahlhauser, Cheryl Klein, Leda Schubert, Connie Dowell, Dulcie Pettigrew and all members of the Rutgers Child Lit list, and the JISCcmail CHILDREN-LITERATURE-UK list.

    UPDATE JUNE 2015: Books which have been published since this post originally went live include After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross (thanks to @MsTick68), and Under The Skin and Mosi’s War, both written by Catherine Macphail.

    9 Responses

    1. Miriam Halahmy

      Might I also mention my novel HIDDEN ( nominated for the 2012 Carnegie Medal : Meadowside Books 2011) about two teenagers who rescue an asylum seeker from drowning and hide him to save him from being deported. The novel highlights the plight of Iraqi interpreters refused asylum in the UK : just like the Afghani interpreters this year.

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