Community Recommends...

Children's Books about

Refugees & Immigration

Refugees & Immigration booklist

Recommended texts for primary classrooms on the topic of refugees and immigration.

This month, we've been asking our community of primary teachers, TAs, children's authorslibrarians and book lovers to nominate their favourite text that explores the topic of immigration.

This is what they told us... 

Welcome to Nowhere

Elizabeth Laird

Nominated by: Leia Sands (@SPS_lovetoread), school librarian


"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. "

The Arrival

Shaun Tan

Nominated by: Carly Kaplan (@sculptingminds), Upper KS2 Teacher


"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."

Boy 87

Ele Fountain

Nominated by: Paul Watson (@PaulWat5), teacher and blogger at 


"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.'

Read the full review of this book on Paul's blog here.

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Onjali Q. Rauf

Nominated by: Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace), children's author of The House With Chicken Legs (available here)


 "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!"

My Name is Not Refugee

Kate Milner

Nominated by: Kate Gieler (@Glebelove2read), School librarian


"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."

The Day War Came

Nicola Davies & Rebecca Cobb

Nominated by: Literacy with Miss P (@sadiephillips), Year 5 Teacher, Literacy Co-ordinator & blogger at and also by Charlotte Ball (@lot_ball), Year 6 teacher.


Miss P says: "In 2016, our own government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter this country. Around the same time, Nicola Davies heard a story about a refugee child being refused entry to a school because there wasn’t a chair for her to sit on. Inspired by these heart-breaking events, The Day War Came was born. It is a poignant story, touchingly illustrated with Cobb’s innocent, childlike drawings, that tells the tragic tale of a girl who is thrust into a world of war. So 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 those children who had lost everything. Published in association with Help Refugees, it is a powerful tool for opening up discussions about the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers."


Charlotte says: "This is a moving picture book, that shares of the initial unwelcome refugees face when arriving in a new place. The story tells of the love of children, 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 the refugees."

The Abominables

Eva Ibbotson

Nominated by:  Piers Torday (@PiersTorday), children's author of books including The Last Wild (available here) and There May Be a Castle (available here). 


"The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson is ostensibly an adventure story about a family of yetis who are forced to leave their home high in the Himalayas, journeying across the globe to an English country estate, where they have been promised a safe haven. Unfortunately, it turns out to be anything but. The story of their journey, how these unusual, hugely loveable creatures with unusual habits, are treated both as they travel and when they arrive in the UK, has a kind, often funny, but also sober and humane message for all of us about how we treat newcomers to this country, in the same vein as the Paddington Bear books."


Rebecca Young & Matt Ottley

Nominated by: Simon Smith (@smithsmm), headteacher and blogger at


"Once there was a boy who had to leave his home...and find another.”

So begins the beautifully told story about weathering the journeys of life. “Teacup” is gently written with lyrical text and stunning artwork. The illustrations are epic and widescreen and the story is subtle and light. The boy’s teacup holds only a small amount of earth from his childhood, but little does the boy know that something is growing inside.

Teacup is a book about growing up or immigration or the importance of home or possibly none of those things. What it is however, is profound, stunning and a book to lose time in exploring its nuance and beauty."


The Silence Seeker

Ben Morley & Carl Pearce

Nominated by: Emma Norman, Year 3/4 Teacher



"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."

A Story Like The Wind

Gill Lewis & Jo Weaver

Nominated by: Simon Fisher (@bookwormswales), teacher and book blogger at  


"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.​"


When Jessie Came Across the Sea

Amy Hest

Nominated by: Jacqueline Harris (@phonicsandbooks), Education Consultant.


 "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."

The Unforgotten Coat

Frank Cottrell Boyce

Nominated by: Laura Rutherford, Primary Teacher.


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


Nadine Kadaan

Nominated by: Chitra Soundar (@csoundar), author of children's books including You're Safe With Me (available here) and Pattan's Pumpkin (available here).


"Nadine Kadaan brings to life the story of Yazan, a Syrian boy who is stuck inside the house – no school, no play and parents distracted by war...Tomorrow is a story from young Yazan’s viewpoint – what is important to a young boy? Meeting his friends, playing with his new bike that has a special bell that goes TINGALINGALING! He even misses school and his friends. This is a story for every child in every part of the world – because this is a tragedy of our contemporary world. Children who are growing up now in the UK or in any other continent should be given the opportunity to understand and empathise with their peers in war-torn cities and countries."


Sandra Dieckmann

Nominated by: Ian Eagleton (@MrEagletonIan), Education consultant and teacher


 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."

Gervelie's Journey: A Refugee Diary

Anthony Robinson, Annemarie Young & June Allan

Nominated by: Claire Pooley, Literacy Lead & Year 5/6 teacher


"Brilliant text telling the true story of a girl who was displaced from Congo, travelled to other countries in Africa, was further displaced again before finally seeking asylum in the UK. Told in the child's voice, using a combination of photographs, artwork and text. Allows Y4 upwards to study different points of a refugee's journey and to understand the reasons that asylum seekers arrive in Europe. Have used it as a base for 4 weeks of literacy during a topic on migration, children's rights and democracy."


Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin & Giovanni Rigano

Nominated by: Roy James (@royjamesmoss), librarian and reader with KS2


"Aimed at year 6+, Illegal is a graphic novel about a boy named Ebo and his journey from Africa to Europe. A family orientated story, it shows the painful reality of families torn apart and the determination, and hope, of a reunion. I would love there to be more books about Ebo, as epic and dangerous as his journey is, only part of his struggle has been told, and like all refugees who make it to Europe... it really is only the beginning."

Here I am

Patti Kim & Sonia Sanchez

Nominated by: Chitra Soundar (@csoundar), author of children's books including You're Safe With Me (available here) and Pattan's Pumpkin (available here).


"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?"  

Who are Refugees and Migrants? What Makes People Leave their Homes? And Other Big Question

Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), founder of


"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."

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (KS3+)

Siobhan Curham

Nominated by: Angela K (@FljsLibrary), School Librarian


"A well told, honest story about the hidden (and often ignored) issues some young people in our society are dealing with every day. Heart breaking and heart warming in equal measures. A book that should be read by every teenager.


Stevie is a (friendless) young career, struggling with her mum’s depression, poverty and school life, who meets a young Syrian refugee - Hafiz. Hafiz has his own struggles, forced to flee Syria (alone - leaving his home, family and friends behind) to endure the arduous and life threatening journey to his Aunt and Uncle in the UK.


These two ordinary teenagers, forced together at school, find a friendship they were not expecting. Each has a passion - Stevie with her love of music and Hafiz with his love of football. Despite their differences and (until the end) not truly understanding the other's struggles, their friendship gives them each a glimpse of what happiness is."

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

Victoria Williamson

Nominated by: Kirsty Crommie (@KCrommie), Primary Teacher and by Jayne Gould (@JayneG60), Primary School Librarian


Kirsty Says: "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."


Jayne Says: "Twelve year old Caylin is lonely and, with her mother ill, struggling to cope at home but determined not to tell anyone. When she discovers an injured fox and her newborn cubs, she is determined to help them and fiercely guards her secret. Then Reema and her family, refugees from the war in Syria, move into the flat below Caylin’s. Reema also feels completely lost, trying to settle in a strange country whilst facing hostility. The girls strike up a wary friendship, cemented by their care for the fox family and a shared love of running. Tackling a range of issues with a light touch, this is an inspiring and moving debut novel recommend for readers of 9+."

A Child's Garden: A Story of Hope

Michael Foreman

Nominated by: Claire Pooley, Literacy Lead & Year 5/6 teacher


"Beautiful and thought-provoking picture book for upper KS2 looking at a modern conflict with displaced children on one side of a barrier contained by soldiers and uses stunning imagery and inference of a vine growing across a divide. The implication is that this is the Palestinian/Israeli conflict although it does not need to be used in this context. The children I have used this with were blown away by the imagery and loved looking at this book over and over again."

There's a Boy Just Like Me

Frasier Cox & Alison Brown

Nominated by: Kate Gieler (@Glebelove2read), School librarian


"A touching story of friendship about a boy and a refugee written by a 9 year old boy and superbly illustrated by Alison Brown."

Do You Speak Chocolate?

Cas Lester

Nominated by: Jo Clarke (@bookloverJo), school librarian and blogger at


 "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."

The Colour of Home

Mary Hoffman & Karin Littlewood

Nominated by: Claire Pooley, Literacy Lead & Year 5/6 teacher


 "Beautiful picture book about a Somali boy arriving in a UK classroom as a refugee. It shows (very gently) the trauma he has experienced and the way in which he learns to overcome some of his fears and experiences through art and colour as a healing process. Has a beautiful message of hope."