Seeking refuge – Understanding war, home and hope

While most of us are lucky enough to be”stuck” at home, it is important today on #Worldrefugeeday to spare a moment to honour the courage , recognise the struggle and send a message of action, solidarity, and responsibility.

The idea of speaking of war to children – the meaningless loss of life, uprooted from home in a tizzy with not even knowing if all of the family is even alive seems like a tall order. Yet there are books today that do a stellar job – across the ages.

While I will do a detailed long post on each of these books some time, here is a quick round up of my top three recent favourites…Pick one and read today!

Book 1 – Boy In the back of the Class

A heartwarming debut novel by Onjali Raúf’ about a Syrian refugee Ahmet who is the new kid in the class. As he struggles to adapt to his new surroundings, the nine-year-old narrator ponders about the grown ups and the students around him- and in a very startling way you find find a mirror held up to some of your own beliefs. I particularly love it for the innocence and the kindness of the children that prevails throughout the story, from looking for a pomegranate that Ahmet may like because it was common in his home country to taking teabags and biscuits for the Queen.

Recommended Age group – Grade 4 upwards – decent sized chapter book, or needs a parent reading with the child if younger)

Book 2 -Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà La


A loosely autobiographical as a child, a refugee fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to the US and reaching Alabama. The pain of the subject is made easy to read as it is written in free verse. The main character , Ha , a bold spirited girl , her intelligence and pride , her little association with an old raggedy doll, her attachment to the green papaya growing in her garden , the time on the boat , her nuanced observation of the refugee camps, how her rather devout mother changes her faith quickly to get them adopted, the struggles of being welcome in a new community , bullying , the trouble with making English a test of her smartness…so many many little things conveyed in so few words – it is indeed a masterpiece that leads to revealing discussions.

“I step back,
hating pity,
having learned
from Mother that
the pity giver
feels better,
never the pity receiver.”

MiSSS SScott
points to the numbers
along the wall.
I count up to twenty.
The class claps
on its own.
I’m furious,
unable to explain
I already learned
fractions and how to purify water.
So this is what dumb feels like. I hate, hate,

hate it.”

“Mother says,
People share
when they know they have escaped hunger.
Shouldn’t people share
because there is hunger?”

Book 3 – Home

The third book is a barely 15 page picture book I found online on Pratham books’s story weaver . Home, as it is simply called, is written by Fausto Aarya De Santis and superbly Illustrated by Ogin Nayam. With delightful illustrations and again a child expressing her story, the questions are simple and yet the answers are tough…
“Do rivers know they have crossed borders? Do they even know what they are?”
“Where is home? Is it where you lived or is it where my family is ?”
Read it if you have 10 minutes today here at https://storyweaver.org.in/stories/113431-home
I absolutely loved the ending , with a lump in my throat because it conveys exactly what the author wants you to understand .

Did you know the time in a refugee camp can be around 17 years?

On average, 42,500 people per day flee their homes to seek protection within the borders of their own country or other countries.

Of the 20 million refugees worldwide, 51% are under the age of 18.

#greymattersQ

Can we really call another human being illegal? 

#bookreview #archanarecommends #kidsbooks #booktalks #kidsthatread #reading #teachingwithbooks #bookclub #kidlit #childrensliterature #bookrecommendations #fiction #picturebooks #kindness #acceptance #friendship #refugee #war #crisis #strength #empathy #conflict #humanrights #worldrefugeeday2020 UNESCO UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Pratham Books Hachette India HarperCollins Children’s Books India

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s