Many people think refugees should feel only two things: gratitude toward the countries that granted them asylum and relief to be safe. I don’t think most people understand the tangle of emotions that comes with leaving behind everything you know. They are not only fleeing violence—which is why so many are forced to leave, and is what’s shown on the news—but they are escaping their countries, their beloved homes. That seems to get lost in the conversation about refugees and internally displaced people. So much focus is on where they are now—not on what they have lost as a result.
We Are Displaced is the newest nonfiction book written by Malala Yousafzai for young readers.
The first half of the book tells the story of when her own family had to evacuate Swat Valley. They were internally displaced; they stayed with family in Shangla and were able to return home in three months.
The second half of the book tells the stories of ten girls and women from different countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America—how they left their countries, the camps they stayed in, their perilous journeys, and the new places they went. One of the accounts in the section is from the point of view of a white woman—one of the volunteers who welcomes one of the refugees when she and her family arrived in Pennsylvania. I was a little uncomfortable with the inclusion of this account. She seems like a wonderful person, but I’m not sure this was the right place for her story.
I’d like to read this again with my almost nine-year-old. I like that it mentions conflicts all over the world, and I’m hoping it can be a way to start conversations about conflicts that are happening in places that we don’t hear about so often, like Uganda and Colombia.
Let me know if you’ve read this or if you’re interested in picking it up!
Escape from Syria, written by Samya Kullab and illustrated and colored by Jackie Roche and Mike Freiheit, is a graphic novel following the journey of a girl and her family from their home in Syria to a refugee camp in Lebanon to resettlement in Canada. View Post
Blackout! by Sumayyah Hussein (and illustrated by Majd Massijeh) is an early chapter book that talks about the Syrian refugee crisis in a way kids 5–9 can understand. Heartwarming and well-written, this story also touches on empathy, privilege, gratitude, and community. View Post
No words to describe this stunning new book from Khaled Hosseini. Inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, this book is a prayer from a father for his son as they wait to board a boat. The writing is as heartbreakingly beautiful as the illustrations are evocative.
It begins with the father’s memories of the Syria before: “the creek where your uncles and I built a thousand boyhood dams.”
. . . moves into the reality of this generation’s Syria: “You know a bomb crater can be made into a swimming hole.”
. . . and ends with the sea: “how vast, how indifferent. How powerless I am to protect you from it.”
It’s a book that’s not easy to classify. Perhaps “an illustrated poem inspired by true events and intended for adults” is the closest I can get. In any case, it’s one of my favorite books of the year.
Part of the proceeds go to UNHCR, so go get your copy now.
Escape from Aleppo is a middle grade novel by N.H. Senzai about one girl’s escape from the Syrian city of Aleppo when fighting reaches the city.
The novel opens with Nadia being awoken in the early morning; her family are finally leaving the city for good. She hasn’t left her house since she was injured by shrapnel from a barmeela that exploded nearby while she was on line for bread. As Nadia hesitates before exiting the building, a bomb goes off, separating her from the rest of her family. They reluctantly move on, and she spends the rest of the novel trying to make her way through the city to the Turkish border where her father is waiting for her. View Post