Happy Readers Help Out: 3 Books about Refugees

Happy Independence Day!  Isn't it great to live in a country with the freedoms that we enjoy?  We have so much to be grateful for!  There are so many people around the world that don't enjoy the same freedoms we take for granted, many people that are just trying to survive.

I hope you read the post a few weeks ago on helping local refugees. Today we're continuing the discussion by sharing three books that tackle the topic of refugees in ways that children can relate to.  All are available to check out from the Eugene Public Library and/or to buy off Amazon.  If you do decide to buy off Amazon, please use Amazon Smile and pick Little Hands Can as your charity of choice; won't cost you any extra but it will help us.

The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman

 
 

Hassan comes from war-stricken Somalia to a new home in America.  Through painting, he finds a way to communicate both the brightness of his old home and the trauma of being a refugee to his new teacher.  Beautifully bright illustrations cover the pages in this book and give a glimpse of how hard it can be to be a new kid in a new school in a new country.  

In some small but important ways, his teacher and fellow students make the transition a little easier for him.  This book provides the platform for discussing how to help refugee children at your child's school as you read this book together.  

I love that this book makes the refugee experience a little more relatable to the average American-born-and-raised child by viewing it through the lens of a child’s painting and from a child’s perspective.  This is a great book to introduce the idea of refugees to your child.  

A Path of Stars by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Dara loves to hear her grandmother’s stories of life in Cambodia with her family.  They are often connected to the food that her grandmother is preparing.  Often they are pleasant memories of a simply happy life but sometimes her grandmother recounts her struggle to safety when war reached her home.  Dara imagines going to Cambodia with her grandmother and family to see for herself the land where the stories take place.  One day they find out that her great-uncle, her grandmother’s companion during her flee to safety, has died and her grandmother is so sad that it’s almost as if her grandmother has died too.  

Dara thinks of how she can help her grandmother.  She decides to tell her grandmother a story, just like her grandmother has always done for her.  This time, though, it is a story of them returning to Cambodia and it brings happiness back into her grandmother’s eyes.  

I love that this book shows the next generation of a refugee family coming to the United States.  Although it has been years since her grandmother came to the US, Dara still celebrates many customs and practices from her grandmother’s and mother’s homeland and we get to see how they’ve been adapted given the new circumstances.  

This book also addresses death and how the simple acts of a child can help those left behind cope with the loss of a loved one.  Lots of great leads for further discussion in this one book!

Four Feet, Two Sandals  by Karen Lynn Williams

Lina finds one bright yellow sandal amidst the clothing that relief workers are handing out at her refugee camp.  Then she spots the matching sandal on another girl’s foot.  They meet and decide to share their new pair of sandals, trading off who wears them each day.  As life in the refugee camp goes on, their friendship blossoms.  One day Lina finds out that her family has been chosen to resettle in America and the girls decide to share the sandals once again when they are reunited in America.

Do your kids take their shoes for granted?  The wonderful illustrations in this book give a glimpse of what life is like for many in refugee camps.  The girls' friendship and hope for the future gives kids a sense that these girls aren’t so different than themselves, just living in different circumstances.  A great primer for more discussion on refugees.

Hope you have a chance to check out these books and start (or continue) the conversation about refugees in your own home!