Bulgaria. Sofia, 9, A Refugee Girl From Ukraine Is Looking Forward To Starting School In Bulgaria This Year
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Eight children's books about refugees

Inspire empathy and expand young readers’ understanding of refugees during story time.

Books provide a perfect way to introduce complex topics like refugees, displacement and statelessness to children in an age-appropriate manner. 

We've selected eight stories that are a wonderful starting point to help children explore issues of social justice. These books can also inspire meaningful conversations about the challenges faced by refugees and people forced to flee.

What You Need to Be Warm by Neil Gaiman 

What you need to be warm by Neil Gaiman

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Neil Gaiman has crafted a captivating book that delves into the fundamental right to feel secure, regardless of who you are or where you come from. It also sheds light on the compassionate people who offer a helping hand to those forced to flee. What You Need to Be Warm features vibrant illustrations crafted by 13 talented artists. A percentage of the proceeds from the book go to UNHCR’s work helping and protecting refugees. 

Reading age: 4-8 years

The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do

The Little Refugee by Anh Do

Anh Do tells his family’s refugee story in this heartwarming picture book. The Little Refugee beautifully illustrates his journey, highlighting the challenges and obstacles his family faced when they were forced to flee Vietnam for a new life in Australia. The Little Refugee is a touching and uplifting story that introduces young readers to a refugee’s experience.

Reading age: 4-8 years

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey by Margriet Ruurs

Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey is a beautifully illustrated book about Rama and her family, who flee their home because of conflict. It provides a unique perspective on the refugee experience and is penned in both English and Arabic. This picture book teaches children about the challenges encountered by refugees while emphasising themes of courage and resilience.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

The Journey is a visually striking and poignant book that follows a family as they flee their war-torn home. Francesca Sanna drew on many true refugee stories to develop the book. The bold artwork can help children comprehend the uncertainty and hardships faced by refugees. It teaches children about the importance of empathy, kindness and hope, even in the face of adversity.

Reading age: 3-6 years

My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

My beautiful birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

Suzanne Del Rizzo's My Beautiful Birds takes young readers on a journey with Sami, a Syrian boy, as he navigates life in a refugee camp. He finds comfort in caring for wounded birds, which in turn helps him comfort other children. This book teaches children about the struggles and trauma experienced by refugee children, and conveys the healing power of friendship and compassion.

Reading age: 6-10 years

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway

The Banana-Leaf Ball narrates the tale of Deo, a young East African refugee, and his friends, who ingeniously fashion a soccer ball from banana leaves and rags in a Tanzanian refugee camp. This heartwarming story illustrates the universal language of sport and play, and the capacity of children to discover joy and hope even in demanding circumstances.

Reading age: 8-12 years

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed

Four Feet, Two Sandals explores the friendship that blossoms between Lina and Feroza, two girls who share a single pair of sandals in a refugee camp. This book imparts valuable lessons about courage, friendship and resilience in the face of uncertainty and fear. It shows that even in trying conditions, children can forge meaningful friendships.

Reading age: 7-10 years

Teacup by Rebecca Young

Teacup by Rebecca Young

This beautifully illustrated and award-winning book by Australian writer Rebecca Young tells the story of a young boy who is forced to leave his home and embark on a perilous journey with only a picture of his mother and a teacup, filled with soil from his old playground. Teacup is a moving tale that explores themes of hope and resilience, making it a great choice for young readers interested in understanding the experiences of refugees.

Reading age: 4-8 years