The best picture books to inspire children to welcome refugees into their own communities
Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...
Dear Reader. We see stories about refugees in the news every day now and hear the most unimaginable accounts of children being forced to flee their homes.
Picture books on this topic can help to create conversations, foster empathy and understanding and, ultimately, inspire young readers to welcome refugees into their own communities.
Here are some reading suggestions...
The Journey by Francesca Sanna
With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis, this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home, and everything they know, to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war.
This book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
The Day War Came by Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb
Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came.
Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone.
Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious...
When the Government refused to allow 3,000 child refugees to enter this country in 2016, Nicola Davies was so angry she wrote a poem. It started a campaign for which artists contributed drawings of chairs, symbolising a seat in a classroom, education, kindness and the hope of a future.
The poem has become this book, movingly illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, which should prove a powerful aid for explaining the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers.
My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner
A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting.
They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too.
A powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.
Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egneus
Lubna's best friend is a pebble. She found it on the beach when they arrived in the night, then she fell asleep in Daddy's salty arms.
Lubna tells Pebble everything. About home. About her brothers. About the war. Pebble always listens to her stories and smiles when she feels afraid.
But when a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna understands that he needs Pebble even more than she does.
What is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel
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 children.
The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood
A moving and ultimately hopeful look at what we hold most dear - and carry with us - when we are forced to flee our homes because of war.
When the enemy bombs the library, everything burns, and only one book survives.
As war rages around them, Peter and his father, alongside so many refugees, flee their home, taking with them a treasure box that holds something rarer than rubies and more precious than gold.
They journey through mud, rain and long cold nights, and soon survival becomes more important than any possession.
But, as the years go by, Peter never forgets the treasure box, and one day he returns to find it.
This moving story from celebrated author Margaret Wild is illustrated with Freya Blackwood's subtly affecting artwork, which incorporates pages of children's books in translation.
The result is a haunting and beautiful tale of the power of stories and the resilience of the human spirit.
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin
Starting a new life in a new country, a young boy feels lost and alone – until he meets an old man who keeps racing pigeons.
Together they pin their hopes on a race across Europe and the special bird they believe can win it: King of the Sky.
Nicola Davies' beautiful story – an immigrant's tale with a powerful resonance in our troubled times – is illustrated by artist Laura Carlin, who makes the world anew with every picture.
Welcome by Barroux
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.
In this exceptional book, author and illustrator Barroux has crafted a powerful story with a twist at the end about hugely important and current issues.
A great opportunity for parents to discuss with children the plight of migrants and refugees, as well as global warming, in a gentle, open-ended way.
Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott
Wouldn't it be great if you could build a home that opened its doors to everyone? Tall or short, fat or thin, rich or poor…
Well, perhaps if everybody pitches in to help, one little mouse can achieve that dream.
An easy-to-read board book with a heart-warming story that is filled with beautiful illustrations of a mouse and other woodland friends embarking on a journey to build a home together.
With simply written rhymes, as well as clever die-cuts, this picture book teaches friendship, acceptance and the importance of diversity.