Saturday, September 4, 2021

"Understanding the plight of a refugee" - various bookwraps

 Guest Post:

Background image credit: Talulla/Shutterstock

Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is a mom, wife, sister, friend, and library lover. She's also the author of 8th Grade Superzero, Someday is Now, Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow, and the novels Two Naomis and Naomis Too with Audrey Vernick. She believes in the power of a good book, a long walk, and a nice cup of tea (snacks optional but strongly recommended). Olugbemisola lives in NYC where she loves to teach writing, cook, do crafts in many forms, and needs to get more sleep. Find her online at and @olugbemisola on Twitter.


We see the news stories about refugees almost every day. We hear the true but almost unimaginable accounts of families forced to flee their homes, their homelands, their entire lives. While we may wish that our children didn’t have to know about such trauma, the facts are that it’s real and very present — and there are countless children actually living it. Stories can facilitate dialogue and promote healthy communication on this difficult topic, help to foster empathy and understanding, and even inspire young readers to take action to ensure safe and welcoming environments in their own communities. Here are titles that can help.

Picture Books

What Is a Refugee?

by Elise Gravel

This illustrated, accessible book introduces young readers to the term “refugee.” This timely picture book answers questions children may have about refugees, including who they are, why they leave their own country, and why they are sometimes not welcome in their new country.

(Ages 3 - 7)

Lubna and Pebble

by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Upon arriving at a refugee camp with her father, young Lubna picks up a pebble on the beach. Shiny and smooth with a drawn-on smiley face, Pebble quickly becomes a great source of comfort for her. When little Amir arrives at the camp alone and scared, she must decide if she can part with Pebble to help him. With stunningly imaginative illustrations and poignant text, Lubna and Pebble is a beautiful story about friendship, solace, and resilience.

(Ages 4 - 8)

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey

by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes, illustrated by Sue Cornelison

Lost and Found Cat follows an Iraqi family’s escape from Mosul — by car, by foot, and by boat — all with their beloved pet, Kunkush, in tow ... until Kunkush escapes his carrier. The family is heartbroken, but Kunkush fortunately ends up in the hands of Amy, a woman volunteering with refugees in Greece, who grows determined to reunite the cat with his original family. This moving true story will inspire discussions with young readers about what it means to be a refugee, the unexpected consequences of being displaced, and the importance of kindness.

(Ages 4 - 8)


by Rebecca Young, illustrated by Matt Ottley

Readers of all ages will find much to connect with in this simple and lovely tale of a boy who must leave his home and find another. He sets off alone in a rowboat, with only a book, a blanket, and some earth from his homeland in a teacup. Young’s story doesn’t shy away from the loneliness and uncertainty the boy experiences, but the story ends on a hopeful note when he finds land and a much-needed friend.

(Ages 4 - 8)


by Yuyi Morales

Author-illustrator Yuyi Morales left almost everything behind when she traveled to the United States with her infant son in 1994. This beautifully-illustrated picture book is her memoir, and reminds readers that migrants always carry things with them — including their resilience, dreams, hope, and history. The lyrical text is also available in Spanish.

(Ages 4 - 8)

My Freedom Trip

by Frances Park and Ginger Park

This moving story of Soo, a young girl who escapes from North Korea to South Korea, focuses on faith and courage. Young Soo must cross alone, and at night, while her mother waits behind — as it is too dangerous for them to cross together. Remembering her mother’s words, “Be brave, Soo!” is what gets her to freedom and what continues to get her through being a refugee.

(Ages 5 - 7)

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub

Danticat’s celebration of storytelling and the bond between mother and child is an empowering one. Saya, whose mother is being detained, writes a story inspired by her mother’s experience. When her father sends Saya’s story to a newspaper, she learns firsthand that one voice, one story, can make a difference.

(Ages 5 - 8)

The Treasure Box

by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

This moving picture book centers on Peter who, along with his father, flees his home as war rages around them. On their journey, Peter carries a treasure box — but what’s inside is far more valuable than gold or riches. More than just a story of their journey, this book is about the power of stories and human resilience.

(Ages 5 - 8)

Middle Grade

Kiki and Jacques

by Susan Ross

Things could be going better for both Kiki and Jacques. Twelve-year-old Jacques just lost his mother and the rest of his family is in a bad place financially. Kiki on the other hand is a Somalian refugee who is trying to acclimate to a new school in Maine. Her presence, and that of another refugee’s soccer skills, throws a wrench in Jacques’s plan to be the captain of the soccer team and plenty of other things. But despite their differences, can they learn to be friends?

(Ages 8 - 12)

One Good Thing About America

by Ruth Freeman

In Africa, Anaïs was one of the best students in her English class. But in America, her new home, she doesn’t seem to know anything about English. Here with her Mama and little brother Jean-Claude, Anaïs worries about her Papa, big brother, and grandmother back in Africa… and the fighting that forced them to flee. This middle grade novel explores what it’s like to be a refugee in America, and reminds us that America — at its core — is a nation of immigrants.

(Ages 8 - 12)

Saving Hanno

by Miriam Halahmy

Set during the onset of World War II, this novel centers around nine-year-old Rudi and his dachshund Hanno. When fleeing Nazi Germany for London, Rudi’s family manages to smuggle the dog in — but Hanno faces a new threat there. Fearing animals are a drain on resources, pets are being euthanized in London. Luckily, as Rudi and the rest of London’s children are about to be evacuated to the countryside, he finds a place Hanno will be safe.

(Ages 8 - 12)

When Stars Are Scattered

by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy

Omar and his younger brother Hassan have lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for almost all their lives. Life is hard, especially for nonverbal Hassan, who can’t get the medical treatment he needs. And when Omar has an opportunity to go off to school, he has to weigh the risks of leaving Hassan alone all day with possibly changing their future for the better. This eye-opening graphic novel told by a Somali refugee is an intimate look at the daily life of a refugee.

(Ages 8 - 12)




Marilyn here...

Long weekend here so Monday will be an official holiday and school resumes again on Tuesday. Everyone is hoping and praying the doors will stay open and kids won't have to go back to online learning.  Nothing can replace face-to-face classroom learning.  Thank you for joining me this week on Storywraps.  You are invited to visit me again next week...starting I unwrap more fabulous books for you and your kids to enjoy!  Happy weekend.  Read on. Take care and stay safe!  Please follow me at...

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