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What Is a Refugee?

By Anna B.
October 15, 2021

Hundreds of refugees come to Oregon each year in hopes of finding a safe place to live. In fact, since 1975 Oregon has welcomed more than 60,000 refugees. Refugees came from all over the world, but most arriving in Oregon in recent years come from Ukraine, Somalia, Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Here are some incredible resources created for kids to introduce the stories, history, and experiences of refugees.

Online Resources

Britannnica Kids Encyclopedia: Refugee

An excellent introduction to refugees written for kids. Also includes links to related articles.

UNITED NATIONS: TEACHING ABOUT REFUGEES

Created with students in mind, these videos seek to provide an understanding of where refugees come from and how this affects us as global citizens.

United Nations: Rahf’s Story

A young girl shares are story of being a refugee in this kid-friendly video.

For Younger Readers

Click on the titles or covers to go to place holds at lincc.org.

Lubna and Pebble/ written by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus.

Lubna’s best friend is a pebble. Pebble always listens to her stories. Pebble always smiles when she feels scared. But when a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does.

The Most Beautiful Thing / written by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khoa Le

Drawn from Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this heartfelt picture book offers a window into the life of a family with little money and a great deal of love.

Room On Our Rock:There are Two Sides to Every Story /  written by Kate and Jol Temple , illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

When read from front to back, the seals believe there is definitely no room on their rock for others. But what happens when you read from back to front?

Salma, the Syrian Chef/ written by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron

Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices!

Stepping Stones: A Refguee Family’s Journey/ written by Margriet Ruurs, artwork by Nizar Ali Badr

In this picture book, a young girl and her family are forced to flee their village to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria and make their way toward freedom in Europe.

Tani’s New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope & Kindness In America / written by Tanitoluwa Adewumi

The incredible true story of Tani Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee who garnered international news coverage after winning the New York State Chess Championship at the age of eight.

What Is a Refugee? / written and illustrated by Elise Gravel

An accessible picture book that oh-so-simply and graphically introduces the term ‘refugee’ to curious young children to help them better understand the world in which they live.

Wherever I Go / written by Mary Wagley Copp, illustrated by Munir D. Mohammed

Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest–seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.

Wishes/ written by Muon Van, illustrations by Victo Ngai

The powerful, honest story about one Vietnamese family’s search for a new home on the other side of the world, and the long-lasting and powerful impact that makes on one of the youngest members of the family. Inspired by actual events in the author’s life.

For Older Readers

Click on the titles or covers to go to place holds at lincc.org.

Escape From Aleppo / written by N.H. Senzai

After Nadia is separated from her family while fleeing the civil war, she spends the next four days with a mysterious old man who helps her navigate the checkpoints and snipers of the rebel, ISIS, and Syrian armies that are littering Aleppo on her way to meeting her father at the Turkish border.

Hear My Voice: the Testimonies of Children Detained At the Southern Border of the United States / compiled by Warren Binford for Project Amplify

The voices and experiences of immigrant children detained at the border between Mexico and the US are amplified using the children’s actual words (from publicly available court documents) to tell one heartbreaking story, in both English and Spanish.

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience / edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond

This collection of poems addresses the many issues confronting first- and second- generation young adult immigrants and refugees, such as cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, human rights, racism, stereotyping, and questions of identity.

Other Words For Home / written by Jasmine Warga

Sent with her mother to the safety of a relative’s home in Cincinnati when her Syrian hometown is overshadowed by violence, Jude worries for the family members who were left behind as she adjusts to a new life with unexpected surprises.

Refugee / written by Alan Gratz

Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence and destruction, embark on harrowing journeys in search of refuge, discovering shocking connections that tie their stories together.

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World / written by Malala Yousafzai with Liz Welch

Part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys– girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they’ve ever known.

When Stars Are Scattered / written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp.

The World In Between: Based On a True Refugee Story / written Kenan Trebincevic and Susan Shapiro

Soon, Kenan’s family is trapped in their home with little food or water, surrounded by enemies. Ten months later, with help from friends and strangers, they finally make it out of the country alive. But that’s only the beginning of their journey.

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