Booklist: Refugees and Immigration (KS2)

Refugees & Immigration
(KS2)

Children's books about refugees.jpg

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.

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Welcome to Nowhere
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. I couldn’t put it down. "

Nominated by: Leia Sands, school librarian

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Arrival
Shaun Tan
Picturebook

"This fantastic picture book captures migration and immigration so well. The pictures are amazing and my Y6 children were so engaged; they produced some of their best writing in fact. The discussions we had around the topic were incredible as the book can be linked to tolerance and other British values so it is cross-curricular, as well as being able to link geography and history (make any link to migration e.g. during WWII) too. I would highly recommend this book for UKS2 and beyond, and possibly even Y4."

Nominated by: Carly Kaplan, Upper KS2 Teacher

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Boy 87
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.'

Nominated by: Paul Watson, teacher and blogger

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Boy at the Back of the Class
Onjali Q. Rauf
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. I love it! .....filled with so much warmth and truth, pitched perfectly for stimulating some really great discussions with my youngsters!"

Nominated by: Sophie Anderson, children's author

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
When Stars Are Scattered
Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed
Graphic novel

"A heart-wrenching true story in graphic novel form, all about life in a Kenyan refugee camp. This book is set to restore your faith in real-life happy endings."

Nominated by: Sarah Merchant, Y6 Teacher

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Silence Seeker
Ben Morley & Carl Pearce
Picturebook

"A great tale of how an asylum-seeking family move next door to an American family, and the boys of both families make friends, even though they don’t share the same language. Raises lots of questions about the world, and great for the ‘kindness’ virtue. Suitable for KS1 and KS2."

Nominated by: Emma Norman, Year 3/4 Teacher

 

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
A Story Like The Wind
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."

 Nominated by: Simon Fisher, teacher and book blogger

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
When Jessie Came Across the Sea
Amy Hest
Picturebook

 "This is the story of an immigrant to the US; a young Jewish girl sailing from Eastern Europe and leaving everything she knows to start a new life. Beautiful illustrations make this a sophisticated picture book to be appreciated by older children too."

Nominated by: Jacqueline Harris, Education Consultant.

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Unforgotten Coat
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Chapter book

"A brilliant story about the realities of illegal immigration as experienced by two Mongolian brothers who arrive at a Bootle primary school in Liverpool."  

Nominated by: Laura Rutherford, Primary Teacher.

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Here I am
Patti Kim & Sonia Sanchez
Picturebook

"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?"  

Nominated by: Chitra Soundar, children's author

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Who are Refugees and Migrants? What Makes People Leave their Homes? And Other Big Question
Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young
Non-fiction

"A non-fiction text that explores refugees from a historical and global perspective. Suitable for KS2, this book includes case studies of different people's experiences of immigration as well as raising questions to stir further thinking and discussion around the topic."

Nominated by: BooksForTopics Review Panel

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Home Ground
Alan Gibbons & Chris Chalik
Dyslexia-friendly 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. When Sam introduces two new players to his football team manager, Jordan does not respond well as he struggles to accept the refugees as part of the team, even though the new boys could reverse the team’s fortunes and help them stay in the league.

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."

Nominated by: BooksForTopics Review Panel

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle
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. Over the course of the book the girls form an uneasy bond, neither of them feeling like they fit in. Their friendship develops through a shared love of running and of the discovery of a litter of fox cubs who they endeavour to look after. 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."

Nominated by: Kirsty Crommie, Primary Teacher 

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Do You Speak Chocolate?
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."

Nominated by: Jo Clarke, school librarian and children's author

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Running On The Roof Of The World
Jess Butterworth
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.

Tash lives in Tibet. She knows the rules. She knows what happens to people who don't follow them. The people taken by the Wujing don't ever return. Rule Number One: Don't run in front of a soldier. Rule Number Two: Never look at a soldier. Rule Number Three: Say as little as possible. Rule Number Four: Never draw attention to yourself. And, there are two words banned in Tibet, two words you must never say: Dalai Lama.

When a man sets himself on fire as a protest against the Chinese rule, soldiers flood her town. With their street being searched house by house, her father sends her on a dangerous mission. Only when she sees her father being held by the Wujing does she flee, and with the help of best friend Sam, begin rapid preparations for the gruelling journey across the Himalayas to ask for help from the Dalai Lama in India, never knowing who she can trust.

A gripping adventure, filled with danger, sorrow and hope. Tash shows true courage and determination against all the odds, and never forgets the compassion her parents taught her. 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."


Nominated by:  Nicki Cleveland, HLTA, school librarian and blogger 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Azzi In Between
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."

Nominated by: BooksForTopics Review Panel

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
Front Desk
Kelly Yang
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 turbulant 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."

Nominated by: Alison Leach, BooksForTopics director

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
The Journey
Francesca Sanna
Picturebook

"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."

Nominated by: Kate Gieler, School librarian

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
King of the Sky
Nicola Davies & Laura Carlin
Picturebook

"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."

Nominated by: Simon Fisher, teacher and book blogger

 

Victorians children's books: Hetty Feather
No Ballet Shoes in Syria
Catherine Bruton
Chapter book

"No Ballet Shoes in Syria is truly a beautiful and powerful story of love, loyalty and hope in the face of immense challenges. It's so inspiring that I've emailed a volunteer centre working with refugees to see if I can teach some family yoga classes there. It's not ballet, but it's fun and a bonding experience in a time of stress."

Nominated by: @TheBookWhisper2, primary school librarian

 

See also..
You may also like our booklists..
Children's books about refugees.jpg