Booklist: Refugees and Immigration (KS1)
Refugees & Immigration
We've put together a list of recommended texts for primary school aged children. The children's books on this list can help to explore the refugee experience and the topic of immigration in an age-appropriate way.
NB: This booklist is aimed at KS1 (ages 5-7). If you are looking for KS2 books for this topic, we have a separate booklist here.
Saving the Butterfly
Helen Cooper & Gill Smith
A poetic, powerful story about a little brother and a big sister finding a new home and new hope after being rescued from a boat lost in the dark sea.
A little brother and his big sister try their best to settle in a new home, where they have nothing left from before except each other. The little one makes new friends and quickly learns to laugh again but his sister remains haunted by the shadows of their past and hides away in their broken house. Trying to help his sister, the little one catches a butterfly for her and brings it inside the house. His sister knows that she needs to set the butterfly free ... but that would mean going outside. In taking the first steps to face her fears and save the butterfly, she also begins the process of saving herself.
Hello!: A Counting Book of Kindnesses
Hollis Kurman & Barroux
This is a counting book with a difference - the counting is a context for a story about forced migration. We follow a family who are forced to flee a war-torn country. They board a boat and travel to safety in another country where the children go to school and make new friends. It’s a hopeful and positive story which promotes kindness. Each page counts through different acts of kindness that helped the family in their difficult situation; 2 hands lifting the children to safety from the boat, 3 donated meals to fill the children up, 4 beds in a temporary shelter, 8 welcome gifts in the new home, 10 new friends to play with, etc.
The simple format leaves plenty of space to think about and discuss the pictures, providing opportunities to discuss ways to be kind and to imagine what life might be like as a refugee.
When we first meet Sami he is remembering his homeland, his family and the friends he left behind when he fled. We see him playing by himself and feeling afraid of this new land where no-one speaks his language and he feels like he doesn’t fit in. When he visits a park with his mother a lonely little bird crashes into him. She is lost and asks Sami to help her find her friends. As Sami remembers where he has seen birds just like Little Bird he bumps into a little girl from his nursery but is too frightened to talk to her. He needs some persuasion! Little Bird encourages him to agree to playing with her and a new friendship is made.
This book about a small child's refugee experience will encourage understanding and plenty of discussion about how important it is to welcome newcomers into a new culture and new friendship groups.
This colourful, beautifully illustrated tale is thoughtful and heart-warming. When a strange, white creature arrives in the wild woods, he is ignored by all the animals. He is a stranger and outsider and strangers and outsiders cannot be trusted. One day, the animals watch as the creature tries to fly back home, on wings made of leaves. But where is home? A moving story with an important message about how we treat others.
Lubna and Pebble
Wendy Meddour & Daniel Egneus
As Lubna arrives in the World of Tents, so begins an emotional story about the power of friendship set against the background of the refugee crisis.
Lubna’s best friend is a pebble, found on the beach as they arrived in the night. We are not told who ‘they’ are or where ‘they’ came from but throughout the captivating story there are many clues which help to build a picture of this family’s journey (for example, ‘she fell asleep in Daddy's salty arms’). So it happens that a pebble becomes Lubna’s best friend - a friend to whom she can tell stories of her previous life, the life with her brothers and the life during the war.
This picture book is a good introduction for younger children to the refugee crisis and the power of friendship.
My Name is Not Refugee
A beautiful, empathy-boosting picturebook written and illustrated in an accessible format for children of all ages to understand the plight of a refugee family as they try to cope in a new environment. The direct questions involve the reader or give an adult the chance to develop discussion.
What Is A Refugee
Who are refugees? Why are they called that word? Why do they need to leave their country?
In this simple, graphic and bold picture book for young children, author and illustrator Elise Gravel explores what it means to be a refugee. This book is the perfect tool to introduce an important and timely topic to young children.
The Day War Came
Nicola Davies & Rebecca Cobb
This is a moving picture book, that shares of the initial unwelcome refugees can sometimes face when arriving in a new place. The story tells of the love of children in a class, naive to the politics of the world, inviting other children into their world by giving up their own chair in the classroom and opening up their community to refugees.
Emotive in its nature, with a potent message about the power of kindness and hope, the book ignited a campaign where people posted images of empty chairs as symbols of solidarity with children who had lost everything to war in their home countries. Published in association with Help Refugees, it is a powerful tool for opening up discussions about the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers.
A simple, powerful way to introduce the idea of kindness to strangers to young children. School librarian Tanya says, "The Suitcase had an immediate impact on pupils in our library, who were moved to perform it, as the various characters, to classes throughout the school. This empathy-building story of the arrival of a refugee is beautiful and accessible. Chris Naylor-Ballesteros' illustrations have the simplicity to appeal to a young audience, but tell a deeper tale in their detail, which the older children recognised and respected."
Amanda Addison & Manuela Adreani
A gentle and lyrical picturebook exploring what it means to undertake a long journey to find a peaceful place to settle. The story creates a clever mirroring between the tale of a tiny swift's mighty migration journey to find a safe nesting site with the story of Leila, a young girl who flees her home in Northern Africa and who also must travel thousands of miles in order to find a safe place of refuge.
The Last Garden
Rachel Ip & Anneli Bray
A picturebook story to open up conversations about war and migration with little ones, anywhere in the world. In a war-torn city, a little girl tends to the last garden. But everyone is leaving and soon the girl has to leave too. The garden is all alone now but soon the seeds scatter throughout and the roots take hold.
Inspired by true events in Syria and war gardens around the world and throughout history, The Last Garden is a thoughtful, tender story of hope, touching on issues of conflict and migration, from a talented debut picture book pairing.
Stella Gurney & Petr Horacek
Short chapter book
An uplifting book that represents one Polish girl's experience of migration to the UK. Kasia misses her old home in Poland, especially her friends and family, and finds it hard to like her new home in England. When her grandparents arrive from Poland for a surprise visit, Kasia finds delight in showing them around her town and realises that she is fonder of her new home than she thought.
This is a short chapter book of 64 pages, designed forearly readers.
When Polar Bear and his friends are swept away from their icy home, they hope to find refuge in a new land. But when they are turned away from one new place after another, they start to doubt that they will ever find somewhere they will be made welcome. Author-illustrator Barroux has crafted a powerful story with a twist ending about hugely important and current issues. A great opportunity for educators and parents to discuss with children the plight of migrants and refugees, as well as global warming, in a gentle, open-ended way.