Books about refugees and asylum seekers (younger children)

Ballerina Dreams

Since asylum can be a confusing issue for children (and even adults), here are some books that explore what it really means to flee your home and have to start your life over.

These books are mainly aimed at younger children.

Check out our list for older children

Check out our list for teenagers

  • Wisp: A Story of Hope

    Author: Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker Smith
    Publisher: Orchard
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    A haunting and immersive story of hope in the darkest of places, this picture book tells younger readers about a child's life in a refugee camp. 

  • Lily and the Polar Bears

    Author: Jion Sheibani
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    Interest age: 4-7
    Reading age: 5+

    This charming, funny, sweet picture book combines concerns about arctic erosion, animal conservation and immigration in a lovely story about polar bears. It’s sure to be a favourite with little ones, who will love Sheibani's illustration.

  • King of the Sky

    Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Laura Carlin
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 6-9
    Reading age: 6+

    A boy has come to start his life in a new country where nothing is familiar, apart from the racing pigeons kept by his neighbour. Soon, he has a pigeon of his own called King of the Sky: will he win the competition? A touching, quiet tale of community.

  • My Name is not Refugee

    Author: Kate Milner
    Publisher: The Bucket List
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 5+

    When they reach a safe place, a little boy must remember that although children call him Refugee, that is not his real name. Clear, moving illustrations complement this simple, touching book that explains the refugee crisis in an accessible way.

  • The Journey

    Author: Francesca Sanna
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 7-9
    Reading age: 7+

    What is it like to leave everything behind and travel somewhere strange? This incredibly poignant story introduces the concept of refugees with straightforward language, tackling this difficult subject with truth, clarity and strikingly beautiful illustrations.

  • Everybody’s Welcome

    Author: Patricia Hegarty Illustrator: Greg Abbott
    Publisher: Caterpillar Books
    Interest age: 4-7
    Reading age: 6+

    A little mouse, and a medley of animals, create a home where everybody is welcome, no matter who they are. With beautiful illustrations and rhyming text, the poignant message of tolerance and inclusivity is integral to this heart-warming tale of love, friendship and hope. 

  • The Silence Seeker

    Author: Ben Morley Illustrator: Carl Pearce
    Publisher: Tamarind
    Interest age: 5+
    Reading age: 7+

    This story explores the vibrancy and diversity of city life through gritty, yet child-friendly illustrations that are beautifully atmospheric and evocative.

  • Dreams of Freedom

    Author: Amnesty International
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
    Interest age: 5+
    Reading age: 7

    An essential book that not only introduces children to the importance of human rights, freedom, and the history of these concepts, but also to a wonderful variety of illustrations.

  • Azzi in Between

    Author: Sarah Garland
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln
    Interest age: 6-12
    Reading age: 7

    This is a moving tale of a refugee family told in graphic novel style and so appealing to a wide range of younger readers.

  • The Day War Came

    Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 5-8
    Reading age: 6+

    A heartbreaking picture book that perfectly explains the displacement of people, and especially children, in war, and the trauma experienced by people forced to leave their homes. 

  • Ballerina Dreams

    Author: Michaela and Elaine DePrince Illustrator: Ella Okstad
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    Interest age: 5-8
    Reading age: 6-8

    This heart-warming true story about working hard to achieve your dreams will inspire children to believe that they can be whoever they want to be.

  • Refuge

    Author: Anne Booth Illustrator: Sam Usher
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 5+
    Reading age: 5+

    This beautiful book follows Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus as they flee into Egypt as refugees. The gorgeous drawings and Booth's sparse, poetic words make this a Christmas book to treasure.

  • The Colour of Home

    Author: Mary Hoffman Illustrator: Karin Littlewood
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln
    Interest age: 5-9
    Reading age: 7+

    On Hassan's first day at school he paints a colourful picture of his home and family in Somalia, but then adds soldiers, flames and bullets.

  • Wishes

    Author: Mượn Thị Văn Illustrator: Victo Ngai
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 4-5

    A story expressed in muted colour and with a wonderful focus on the small details of this Vietnamese family’s life as they prepare for a perilous journey, Wishes is a deeply moving story told with very minimal text about a child’s experience of being a refugee.