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Refugees & Immigration KS2

Refugees and Immigration Booklist (KS2)

We’ve put together a list of recommended texts for primary school aged children on the topic of refugees and immigration. For this community booklist, we asked our community of primary teachers, TAs, children’s authors, librarians and book lovers to nominate their top recommended texts that explore the topic of immigration and the refugee experience.
NB: This booklist is aimed at KS2 (ages 7-11). If you are looking for KS1 books for this topic, we have a separate booklist here.

Chapter books about refugees and immigration

Elizabeth Laird
Chapter book

This story is one that stayed in my thoughts for a long time after reading it. It tells the story of Omar and his family who live in Syria. Civil War breaks out and impacts on the family in different ways, eventually leading to them to flee Syria and become refugees. This realistic, moving story is an important read in opening children’s eyes and helping them to understand the plight of refugees.

Ele Fountain
Chapter book

A harrowing account of how one boy makes the journey to freedom and ultimately safety. Eye opening to anyone who is new to the subject and a must share in classrooms.

Onjali Q. Rauf
 & Pippa Curnick
Chapter book

It is truly lovely – pitched just right to build empathy, promote kindness, and encourage readers to challenge stereotypes and question opinions that may not be based on fact. Filled with so much warmth and truth, pitched perfectly for stimulating some really great discussions with my youngsters.

Gill Lewis
 & Jo Weaver
Chapter book

A very special and quite beautiful book from award-winning Gill Lewis, magnificently illustrated by Jo Weaver. It tells the moving tale of Rami, one of many refugees crowded into a boat sailing towards their dream of a safe refuge. As they travel, they tell their stories and Rami has his violin which when played, weaves the most lyrical story of freedom. A stunning, rich, emotive book.

Alan Gibbons
 & Chris Chalik
Chapter book

A football-themed short story by Blue Peter award winner and Carnegie Medal nominated author Alan Gibbons. This book is set in a dyslexia-friendly format and offers an engaging story that can be enjoyed by those 8 and upwards. Home Ground will engage those wanting a story about ‘the beautiful game’ but, more than that, is a story of friendship and overcoming prejudice.

This is a great book to introduce the importance of being tolerant and accepting others, irrespective of where they’re from. Home Ground is packed full of interesting information about the journeys refugees have undertaken and their reasons, which helps to give context to this story. Children also learn fascinating facts about former refugees who have been successful in top-flight teams both here and abroad.

Victoria Williamson
Chapter book

.The Fox and the White Gazelle is a glorious and inspiring, if sometimes heartbreaking, story of the power of hope, understanding and friendship. Set in Glasgow the story is told from the point of view of the two main characters – Caylin, a school bully who we soon discovering is fighting a battle of her own and Reema, a Syrian refugee who is trying to fit in to a new country with a new language, far from all she has ever known.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is a masterful piece of writing which exhibits themes of friendship, belonging, empathy, understanding and, most of all, hope. This is a book that deserves to be read by older primary school children and beyond. It is a book that forces us to look inside ourselves and reassess how we could all be a little bit kinder and a little bit more understanding. Beautifully written and essential reading.

Cas Lester
Chapter book

When new girl Nadima arrives at school speaking very little English she struggles to make friends until Jas reaches out a hand of friendship by sharing her chocolate. Nadima’s experiences as a refugee are incredibly difficult for her friends to relate to, they can never truly understand what her life was like in Syria. This thoughtful story cleverly captures the fear and brutality she has experienced in a powerful and moving way.

Jess Butterworth
 & Rob Biddulph
Chapter book

So many children in our world live in conflict and war zones every day, and face perilous journeys to find somewhere they can live in peace, without fear. Books that tell their stories with empathy, compassion and understanding, as shown in Running On The Roof Of The World, deserve a place in every School Library and Class Library from Upper Key Stage 2 onwards.

A gripping adventure, filled with danger, sorrow and hope. Jess Butterworth brings the Himalayas within touching distance with her ability to conjure the sights and sounds with perfect clarity in the reader’s mind. It’s a must read for all our children. If they can’t imagine the lives that other children face in our world, they won’t have the compassion, empathy and understanding needed to help begin to make all of our world a friendlier place to live.

Kelly Yang
 & Maike Plenzke
Chapter book

A story about a Chinese girl called Mia living in America with her parents, this book explores the themes of immigration, prejudice, poverty, institutionalised racism and what it looks like to hold onto hope in turbulent times.  Mia’s account of the difficulties her family faces as immigrants in modern day America is moving and powerful.  Recommended for upper KS2 and beyond.

Catherine Bruton
Chapter book

A superb read. This is a gripping and thought-provoking story exploring the experience of an eleven-year-old girl fleeing conflict in Syria. Aya’s tale is told with such compassion that takes the reader on a real empathy journey. No Ballet Shoes in Syria is an important story that is beautifully told with warmth and compassion.

Graphic novels about refugees and immigration

Sarah Garland
Graphic Novel

This important and very topical text uses a comic-book style to portray some of the experiences of some refugee families. Azzi and her family flee their home and find themselves on a frightening and dangerous journey to a new country. In her new home, Azzi is faced with adapting to a foreign way of life, starting a new school and learning to speak English. This is an excellent, thought-provoking text that presents a difficult topic in a way that evokes empathy and understanding in young readers.

Picturebooks about refugees and immigration

Shaun Tan

A very topical migrant story told through textless images. When a man leaves his family to search for a better life for them far away, he finds himself in a strange city with all sorts of unfamiliar people, bizarre animals and floating objects. Nothing is familiar, and owning only a suitcase and a little bit of money, the immigrant must navigate his way through his sense of deep displacement and find a way of connecting with the people he meets. This compelling book captures the brave act of leaving everything behind and searching for a future in another world.

Patti Kim
 & Sonia Sanchez

In this wordless picture book Here I am, Patti Kim and Sonia Sánchez bring the awe, the unfamiliarity of a new city to a young immigrant. As there are no words, children who are in similar situations (sadly more of them nowadays), can fill it in with their own unique stories. It’s a great book to initiate questions and discussions, interpret feelings and importantly be empathetic – wear the shoes of an immigrant or a refugee as you walk through your own city – what do you see?

Francesca Sanna

There is so much detail in this beautiful book – each page stirs heart wrenching thoughts and sparks discussion. An extremely useful book to aid understanding and empathy of the refugee crisis.

Nicola Davies
 & Laura Carlin

A powerful and poignant picture book from the incredible Nicola Davies with expressive, emotive and challenging illustration by the gifted Laura Carlin. The story, nominated for the 2018 Greenaway Medal, tells of a young boy starting a new life in a mining community in Wales having moved from Italy. He befriends Mr Evans who races pigeons, and there follows a sensitive exploration of the boy’s feelings. With a focus on making people welcome and empathising with those in similar situations, this is a fabulous book to use in the classroom. Various teaching notes available from CLPE, Amnesty UK and the publishers Walker will give teachers a springboard with planning too.

Non-fiction books about refugees and immigration

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