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Books About Refugee Experiences
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Books About Refugee Experiences

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These kids books feature characters fleeing war in violence in different conflicts around the world and throughout history.
My Beautiful Birds

My Beautiful Birds

illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
edition:Hardcover

Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons - will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can't join in. When he is given paper and paint, all he can do …

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Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

A Refugee Family's Journey
by Margriet Ruurs
translated by Falah Raheem
by (artist) Nizar Ali Badr
edition:Hardcover

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages …

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Stormy Seas

Stormy Seas

Stories of Young Boat Refugees
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook

A treacherous voyage across the open seas is the last hope for safety and freedom for five young people from around the world. The phenomenon of desperate refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories 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 e …

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Excerpt

If you’re reading this, you—like me—have probably won the lottery. Not the giant cheque, instant millionaire kind of lottery. The other lottery win—the really valuable one. That random, lucky break that means you were born in or immigrated to a relatively peaceful and prosperous place in the world. Along with all the other amazing things about you, that makes you pretty extraordinary.

Sixty million of the world’s seven billion people aren’t so lucky. They have been forced to leave their homes because of war, persecution, or natural disasters. A staggering 19 million of these displaced people have no hope of ever returning home safely and are seeking asylum in another country. And, more than half of these refugees are children and teenagers. Even more upsetting is that many are orphans or “unaccompanied minors” traveling alone, sent by their family in the hope of finding a safe place to live and get an education.

News reports in 2015 and 2016 have been full of stories of Syrian refugees who are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The civil war that has been raging there for years has forced more than half of the country’s population out of their homes. That’s more than 11 million people in need of shelter, food, water, and medical care. And thousands of others are escaping wars, persecution, and drought in the Middle East and North and sub-Sahara Africa, also trying to find safe refuge in Europe.

The influx of refugees has caused divisions across the European Union. Countless individuals and organizations have rallied to provide support to the refugees, and countries such as Germany, Hungary, and Sweden have welcomed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers. Yet, many peaceful and prosperous countries in Europe and North America are hostile to refugees and migrants. Anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies are rising around the world, depriving refugees of the right to asylum guaranteed under international law. So in their quest for a safe and secure future, hundreds of thousands of refugees are forced to turn to criminal smuggling rings that have created a six billion dollar industry, overcharging for passage across the Mediterranean on overcrowded, unseaworthy boats.

But boat refugees risking their lives at sea isn’t a new phenomenon. For hundreds of years, through wars, famines, failing economies, and religious persecution, people have been pushed by circumstances and hope to leave behind all they know and board a ship for a country they’ve never seen. To help make sense of what I was seeing on the news, I set out to research and interview people who were boat refugees themselves as children. I quickly understood the magnitude of what I was asking and how traumatic it can be for people to tell their stories, particularly Syrian children who have recently crossed the Mediterranean and are still living under precarious circumstances in refugee camps in Europe. The five young boat refugees whose stories appear in Stormy Seas are lucky—not only did they survive the treacherous ocean voyage, they persevered and prospered, even in the face of uncertainty, financial challenges, and discrimination in their new homes. Things got better.

At first glance, the refugees we see on the news and the hardships they endure may seem unrelated to us—not our problem. But like Ruth, Phu, José, Najeeba, and Mohamed, the conflicts, discrimination, and environmental challenges that force them to leave their homes aren’t their fault or within their power to change alone. Either through action or inaction, we all play a role in the dire circumstances refugees face. Their courage in leaving behind everything they know in search of peace and security, and their resilience in overcoming horrific journeys, restores hope in what life can be—not just for them but for all of us.

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Adrift at Sea

Adrift at Sea

A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival
edition:Hardcover

It is 1981. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam’s military police for the perilous chance of boarding that boat. Told to multi-award-winning author Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by the celebrated Brian Dei …

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Excerpt

On the second day, our boat springs a leak. I wish I could drink the water that laps around my feet, but it’s full of salt. Ma and Nghia take turns bailing. It’s hard work and few offer to help. Don’t they realize our boat could sink? The captain gives them a bottle of water in thanks. We hide this treasure in our bags.

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Stay Silent

Stay Silent

A Refugee's Escape from Colombia
edition:Paperback
tagged :

Paola Gómez's childhood in an abusive home led her to dedicate her life to providing shelter for women and children in crisis. But when standing up against those responsible for the murder of a street child led to death threats against her and her family, she knew she was in trouble. After a brutal attack in the dark of night, she had only one choice: flee or die. Within hours she had left behind everyone and everything she had ever known in Colombia to start a new life in North America, where …

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Children of War

Children of War

Voices Of Iraqi Refugees
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook

USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List

In this book, Deborah Ellis turns her attention to the most tragic victims of the Iraq war -- Iraqi children. She interviews young people, mostly refugees living in Jordan, but also a few who are trying to build new lives in North America. Some families have left Iraq with money; others are penniless and ill or disabled. Most of the children have parents who are working illegally or not at all, and the fear of deportation is a constant threat.

Ellis …

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Good-bye Marianne

Good-bye Marianne

A Story of Growing Up in Nazi Germany
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

A heartbreaking story of loss and love.

As autumn turns toward winter in 1938 Berlin, life for Marianne Kohn, a young Jewish girl, begins to crumble. First there was the burning of the neighbourhood shops. Then her father, a mild-mannered bookseller, must leave the family and go into hiding. No longer allowed to go to school or even sit in a café, Marianne’s only comfort is her beloved mother. Things are bad, but could they get even worse? Based on true events, this fictional account of hatred …

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Stay Strong

Stay Strong

A Musician's Journey from Congo to Canada
edition:Paperback

Growing up, Gentil Misigaro only knew the world as a place of loss, fear, and death. For fifteen years he and his family moved from country to country to escape the violence, but it followed them from their village in Congo to Rwanda and then Uganda. Through it all Gentil found strength and hope in music. When his family got the news that they had finally found a new home in Canada, Gentil saw his music as a powerful force that could bring positive change to his new homeland and to the world.

Th …

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