Helping children understand the refugee crisis

New books aimed at young readers show that children forced from their homes are not just refugees but children just like them

Images we see on the news and the front pages of desperate people in desperate circumstances are difficult to comprehend, but imagine how much more confusing and disturbing they will seem to children.

Two new books aim to introduce young readers to the refugee crisis, using pictures and simple words to tackle the subject.

Children’s book illustrator Kate Milner decided to write My Name Is Not Refugee after driving home with her daughter, who works in a school. She told her about how pupils had been asking questions about the crisis.

“They didn’t understand what was being discussed in the news,” Milner says. “I asked myself if there was anything I could do and by the end of the journey the book was clear in my head. It’s a story which asks children from a safe, comfortable background to think about what it must be like to leave your home and make a journey into the unknown.”

Another book, Where Will I Live? is written by Rosemary McCarney, who is Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and uses photographs taken by the UNHCR of refugees in Africa, the Middle East and across Europe. Proceeds from Where Will I Live? will be donated to refugee children’s programmes around the world.

Here is an extract:

But where will I live? Will it be down this road...
beyond this hill...
past this fence...
in a tent...
or in a whole city of tents?

Life for refugees, especially child refugees, is unimaginably tough, but these books do a great and important job in giving an insight into their lives. They remind us that children are children, no matter their situation or circumstance – they laugh and cry, feel happy and sad, but most of all just want a safe place to call home.

My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner and Where Will I Live? are out now

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