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Understanding migrant experiences (age 9-11)

Genre: Identity, Migration, Travel
Age group: 9-11
Small paper boat in water beside some rocks

We believe that books are a powerful tool and can provide a useful starting point for understanding the experience of migrants and opening up conversations around the refugee crisis.

These books tell moving stories about seeking refuge in a sensitive and hopeful way, encouraging older children to consider the challenges people face when forced to leave their homes.

More information and useful links

Diane Ewen Floella Benjamin Coming To England

Coming to England is Floella Benjamin's personal account of her family's move to the UK during the late 1950s as part of the Windrush Generation. Her father came first, seeking work. Soon after, her mother and two siblings moved to the UK, leaving Floella and her remaining siblings with family in Trinidad. Fifteen months later, Flora followed her parents to England. Floella shares her experience settling in the UK, missing her home, and encountering suspicion, hostility and a lack of welcome in some quarters. This is an eye-opening read that should be shared widely.

Andrea Davis Pinkney Shane W. Evans The Red Pencil

Told in narrative verse, this a poignant and moving story of how quickly and unexpectedly life can change. Amira lives in a rural Sudanese village, and her biggest concern is persuading her muma to let her attend school. All of this changes when the Janjaweed attack and she finds herself displaced, as well as witnessing the brutal murder of her father and close friends. As a refugee in Kulma, Amira can't find her voice. But a gift of a red pencil begins to change this. She can finally start to show what she can't say. A beautiful and moving story, with gorgeous illustrations by Shane W. Evans, this is a must read to develop empathy and understanding.

Catherine Bruton No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Eleven-year-old Aya has come to the UK with her baby brother and Mum from Syria, escaping the war. They are seeking asylum and must fight to remain in the UK. Aya stumbles across a local ballet class where the teacher spots her talent and recognises her potential to achieve a scholarship to a specialist ballet school. At the same time, Aya's Mum is suffering from depression, and the whole family is struggling to adapt to a new way of life. This book is about family and hope and is perfect for sharing and reading together. It champions the rights of refugees in a captivating and heart-warming way.

Doug Chayka Karen Lynn Williams Khadra Mohammed Four Feet, Two Sandals

Set in a refugee camp in Pakistan, a relief worker brings clothes for those in the camp. Ten-year-old Lina finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly. She is thrilled until she discovers that another girl, Feroza, has already laid claim to the matching sandal. Together the girls find a way to share the sandals. Friendship, sacrifice and compromise are all explored in this beautiful story.

George Butler Drawn Across Borders: True Stories Of Migration

Whilst visiting countries around the world, George found that drawing allowed him time to listen to people recounting their life experiences. He created a book of beautiful, detailed illustrations to capture the true stories of the people he met. The words are carefully matched to the pictures to make an excellent book ideal for sharing with children and young people. There is something for everyone to explore in this book.

Issa Watanabe Migrants

In this beautiful book, the reader follows a group of animals as they are forced to leave their homes and experience hurt, sacrifice and loss. However, hope is there in their strong bond and kindness. The story ends on an optimistic note, which will make all readers consider the responsibility of those who welcome migrants to a new home. This book is perfect for exploring with children. It will open conversations around migration and what it means to leave home to seek refuge.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle

This book highlights some of the many practical, physical, and emotional challenges of settling in a new country. It also explores the different experiences of each family member as they make their own personal adjustments to the same situation. It is a book that shows the importance of human connections and the benefits of making friends, and sharing and building a community together. An ideal book to read aloud and share with a class or large group.

Shirley Marr A Glasshouse Of Stars

Told in the unique style of second-person narrative voice, this book really places you in the shoes of Meixing and her experience of moving to a New Land. Exploring the language barriers of being a first-generation migrant, colliding cultures, and the racism migrants experience, this is a raw and honest story, but also a magical and uplifting one. In a glasshouse at the bottom of her garden, Meixing finds a place to escape and dream.

Remy Lai Pie in the Sky

A poignant and laugh-out-loud story about moving to a new country and feeling like you have landed on Mars. Told through prose and comic style illustrations, this is the story of Jingwen and his struggle to learn English and feel at home in a new land. It is also a story about cake and the importance of food to place, family and memory. This book will tickle your taste buds and pull at your heartstrings. Beautifully written and illustrated, it is a must read.