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Books about refugees and asylum seekers

Jackdaw Summer

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.

  • A Dangerous Crossing

    Author: Jane Mitchell
    Publisher: Little Island

    This heartbreaking story depicts the reality of fleeing war, as told by a 13-year-old boy. Not only is her story told with compassion and understanding, it is also a timely and vital read. Deserving of a place on every school reading list.

  • Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord

    Author: Bessora & Barroux Translator: Sarah Ardizzone
    Publisher: The Bucket List

    A powerful, terrible and essential story, Alpha should be required reading for everyone. The graphic novel highlights the terror and hopelessness experienced by someone forced to leave their own country in search of a future.

  • A Story Like The Wind

    Author: Gill Lewis Illustrator: Jo Weaver
    Publisher: Oxford University Press

    Gill Lewis’s brief but beautiful story is rich in wonder, as well as being a timely reminder of the refugee crisis. Mixed with an exotic story of wild horses and a Dark Lord that rules a kingdom in peril, this is an unusual and memorable book.

  • Azzi in Between

    Author: Sarah Garland
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln

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

  • Give Me Shelter

    Author: Editor: Tony Bradman
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln

    Told through the eyes of children, this moving collection of short stories focuses on the experiences of asylum seekers from all over the world.

  • In The Sea There Are Crocodiles

    Author: Fabio Geda Translator: Howard Curtis
    Publisher: David Fickling Books

    First published in Italian last year, the story of Enaiatollah Akbari's journey from Afghanistan to Italy has now been translated into English

  • Jackdaw Summer

    Author: David Almond
    Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

    Fate leads Liam to find an abandoned baby and as a result his life becomes entwined with that of Oliver, an African boy seeking asylum and Crystal, an emotionally damaged girl.

  • My Name is not Refugee

    Author: Kate Milner
    Publisher: The Bucket List

    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.

  • Now is the Time for Running

    Author: Michael Williams
    Publisher: Tamarind Books

    Deo's life is destroyed when government forces kill his family. Together with his brother Innocent, he flees his village in search of his father, encountering hardship and hostility along the way.

  • Oranges in No Man's Land

    Author: Elizabeth Laird
    Publisher: Pan Macmillan

    Ayesha and her young brothers find themselves refugees in a bombed out flat in Beirut with only an elderly grandmother to care for them.

  • Refuge

    Author: Anne Booth Illustrator: Sam Usher
    Publisher: Nosy Crow

    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.

  • Shadow

    Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

    This is a candid exploration of the injustices of war, at home and away, and an unflinching account of the treatment of asylum seekers.

  • The Arrival

    Author: Shaun Tan
    Publisher: Hachette

    In this unusual book, we follow a young man as he packs his bags and leaves his family to go and start a new life in another country

  • The Bone Sparrow

    Author: Zana Fraillon
    Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

    Focusing on a friendship between two young refugees, The Bone Sparrow is one of those rare, special books that will break your heart with its honesty and beauty - but is ultimately hopeful and uplifting.

  • The Island

    Author: Armin Greder
    Publisher: Allen and Unwin

    This chilling picture book about prejudice, intolerance and the plight of refugees will spark classroom discussions with older readers.

  • The Journey

    Author: Francesca Sanna
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books

    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.

  • The Silence Seeker

    Author: Ben Morley Illustrator: Carl Pearce
    Publisher: Tamarind

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

  • Welcome to Nowhere

    Author: Elizabeth Laird
    Publisher: Pan Macmillan

    Omar doesn't know much about politics, nor does he care, however, when his older brother, Musa, throws his lot in with the student opposition to the government, everything changes.