Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival held every year around World Refugee Day on the 20th June, celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. This year, the theme for Refugee Week is ‘healing’.
Read on for our list of books from the RACE Centre library that celebrate the stories and achievements of refugees all over the world. They include refugees writing about their own journeys, fictional stories about refugees, and non-fiction accounts that look beneath the headlines to the struggles and experiences of real people. What all of them have in common is the extraordinary strength and resilience of the individuals included and an awareness of the power of storytelling for healing.
We’ve chosen books suitable for younger readers, as well as books for adults, and have included the reference numbers you can use to find them in the RACE Centre library on the lower ground floor of Central Library.
For adults and older readers:
Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis, by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson (IM.3/MCD)
An examination of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, told through the stories of five refugees who have made the perilous journey to Europe. Going beyond the headlines and statistics, McDonald-Gibson explores the personal stories of people in impossible situations.
Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land, by Sandy Tolan (HI.7/TOL)
The true story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, who as a child in a Palestinian refugee camp was given a viola, and went on to open a music school for Palestinian children. Children of the Stone shows how Ramzi’s love of music drove him to create something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war.
A Country of Refuge: an Anthology of Writing on Asylum Seekers, compiled and edited by Lucy Popescu (AR.2.05/POP)
A collection of short fiction, memoir, poetry and essays by some of the UK’s most influential voices, which explores what it really means to be a refugee: to flee from conflict, poverty and terror, leaving your home and family behind, only to arrive on less than welcoming shores.
Finding Home: Real Stories of Migrant Britain, by Emily Dugan (IM.2/DIG)
Reporter Emily Dugan follows the unique stories of ten immigrants facing extraordinary obstacles in their quest to live in the UK. Dugan’s book reveals intense personal dramas of ordinary men and women as they struggle to find somewhere to call home.
The Lightless Sky: My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee, by Gulwali Passarlay (IM.2/PAS)
Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from his home in Afghanistan at age 12, after his father was killed. Smuggled into neighbouring Iran, he began a 12 month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons and almost drowning in a tiny boat on the Mediterranean. He survived and made it to Britain. In this book he tells his story.
The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis, by Patrick Kingsley (IM.3/KIN)
Throughout 2015 the Guardian’s migration correspondent, Patrick Kingsley, travelled to 17 countries and met hundreds of refugees making odysseys across deserts, seas and mountains to reach Europe. This book is Kingsley’s account of who these voyagers are, why they come, and how they do it.
People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain, by Hashi Mohamed (CU.3.01/MOH)
Hashi Mohamed came to Britain aged nine as a refugee from the Somali civil war. Today he is a successful barrister with an Oxford degree. He explores what his own experience tells us about social mobility in Britain, and concludes that our country is riven with deep divisions that block those from deprived backgrounds from accessing the advantages that are handed to others at birth.
Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp (IM.3/VOI)
The Calais ‘Jungle’ was a refugee camp near Calais, France that existed from January 2015 until its demolition in October 2016. Migrants from countries including Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea arrived by the hundreds every day hoping for sanctuary and a chance to settle in Europe. This book give voice to the unique individuals living the camp: people who have made difficult journeys simply looking for peace.
For younger readers:
Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du Nord, by Bessora and Barroux (AR.2.06/BES)
Alpha Coulibaly is a cabinet-maker from Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, who undertakes a dangerous journey as he attempts to re-join his family already in Europe. Along the way he meets an unforgettable cast of characters, each one giving a human face to the refugee crisis.
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (IM.6/TAN)
The Arrival is a refugee story told as a series of wordless images. A man leaves his wife and family seeking a better life, and finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs and indecipherable languages with nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each with their own unspoken story of struggle and survival.
Azzi In Between, by Sarah Garland (AR.2.06/GAR)
Azzi and her parents have to flee their home because the country is at war and escape on a frightening journey. Azzi arrives in a new, unfamiliar country where everything is different. But Azzi is resourceful and brave; slowly she learns how to adapt to her new life. A moving tale of a refugee family told in graphic novel style.
The Journey, by Francesca Sanna (AR.2.06/SAN)
Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story explores the unimaginable decisions made as a mother and her two children are forced to flee their home and everyone they know to escape the turmoil of war. The author was inspired to write this book by two girls she met in a refugee centre in Italy. She created this book as a tribute to their plight and strength.
My Name is Not Refugee, by Kate Milner (AR.2.06/MIL)
In this picture book a mother tells her young son that they must say goodbye to their old friends and leave home, as it is not safe. They will have to walk a very long way. When they reach a safe place to make a new home, the boy must remember that although children may call him Refugee that is not his real name. This simple book explains the refugee crisis in an accessible way, with direct questions to help young readers think about the challenges faced by a displaced child.
Refugees and Migrants, by Ceri Roberts (IM.6/ROB)
This book uses relatable comparisons, carefully researched text and striking illustrations to help children understand who refugees and migrants are, why they’ve left their homes, where they live and what readers can do to help those in need.
When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson (AR.2.06/JAM)
Omar and his brother Hassan, two Somali boys, have spent a long time in the Dadaab refugee camp. Separated from their mother, they are looked after by a friendly stranger. With a heart-wrenching fairy-tale ending, this incredible true story depicts life in a refugee camp.
Yusra Swims, by Julie Abery (AR.7.01/ABE)
Growing up in Damascus, Yusra Mardini dreams of swimming for her country at the Olympic Games. But when war erupts in her country, she is forced to flee. In rhyming verse and with beautiful illustrations, Yusra Swims tells the true story of a girl’s journey from her beloved home in Syria across Europe to Germany, where she is finally able to realise her dreams.