Check out some of the best kids books about refugees! There are so many amazing refugee books for kids that help them understand the refugee experience. Picture books are a great way to teach about almost any topic. These are excellent children’s books about refugees to share with your students as suggested by teachers in the Picture Book Brain community!
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Check out the books:
Brothers In Hope
Eight-year-old Garang is tending cattle far from his family’s home in southern Sudan when war comes to his village. Frightened but unharmed, he returns to find everything has been destroyed. Soon Garang meets other boys whose villages have been attacked. Before long they become a moving band of thousands, walking hundreds of miles seeking safety — first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya. The boys face numerous hardships and dangers along the way, but their faith and mutual support help keep the hope of finding a new home alive in their hearts.
Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it’s a promise that you can make better tomorrows. It’s autobiographical and told in poem form with so many beautiful illustrations. This is also a favorite book for Hispanic Heritage Month!
Four Feet Two Sandals
When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one. As the girls go about their routines — washing clothes in the river, waiting in long lines for water, and watching for their names to appear on the list to go to America — the sandals remind them that friendship is what is most important.
Lost and Found Cat
When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they can’t bear to leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind. So they carry him with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away.
But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs from the chaos, disappearing. After an unsuccessful search, his family has to continue their journey, leaving brokenhearted.
A few days later, aid workers in Greece find the lost cat. Knowing how much his family has sacrificed already, they are desperate to reunite them. A worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and in the news media, and after several months the impossible happens—Kunkush’s family is found, and they finally get their happy ending in their new home. A true story!
Join a young boy and his father on a daring journey from Mexico to Texas to find a new life. They’ll need all the resilience and courage they can muster to safely cross the border – la frontera – and to make a home for themselves in a new land.
Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War
This book may be one of my favorite books on this list! This book was originally written in Spanish titled Mexique: el nombre del barco. The author lyrically tells the story of over 400 children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Their parents told them that it would just be for the summer, when they sent them to Morelia, Mexico. The children never returned because fascist dictator Francisco Franco won the war.
The authors’ sad words packed full of meaning to be analyzed along with the bleak, heartbreaking illustrations are perfect for examining the illustrations to text connection. This is a book that I am definitely adding to my refugee unit of study especially since it is told through verse.
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story
Against the order of his government, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees to help them flee the Nazis during World War II. Written from the point of view of the diplomat’s son, this is an excellent story that does not feature a white hero. This is definitely one of the best kids books about refugees especially for upper elementary students.
Oskar and the Eight Blessings
A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city’s many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world.
A Different Pond
As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
Best Kids Books About Refugees
Did I miss any great kids books about refugees? I’m sure I have! There’s not nearly enough on the list. Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them! I’m always looking for new great picture books!