Refugee Week: 3 Picture Books

Continuing our series of recommended reads for children this #RefugeeWeek2019, here are our top tips for picture books.

tmorrowTOMORROW, by Nadine Kaadan, translated from Arabic by the author (Lantana Publishing, 2018)

Claire Storey writes:

This book tells the story of Yazan who can no longer go to the park. He no longer goes to school. He even starts to miss it “which was a surprise”. His parents are preoccupied but Yazan’s concerns aren’t about the news; he wants to go to the park. One day, Yazan decides he’s going to the park, takes his red bike and leaves the house alone. Everything is different to how it used to be. I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, he makes it home again safely.

In her letter to the reader, Kaadan begins asking, “Have you ever been stuck inside the house when you’re desperate to go outside?” Most children probably can. It’s really clever that she has taken such a serious issue and created story around a situation that a child who has never experienced war can understand. The illustrations in watercolour and pencil are beautiful and the colours really help to convey Yazan’s feelings.

One of my concerns had been about broaching this subject with (then) 4-year-old Emma and whether she would find this all a bit scary. While the pictures are at times dark and eerie and the buildings pictured are damaged, they aren’t portrayed in a particularly scary way.

What my kids had to say:

Dominic (8): It’s about a boy called Yazan. Everything around him is changing and he can’t go to the park because there are people fighting on the streets. It’s too dangerous. It’s important for children like me to read this book. It tells you what life is like in Syria. 

Emma (4): The shadows on the floor look like bad news. Someone’s broked (sic) the houses. It’s sad that Yazan can’t go outside. 

nour's escape


NOUR’S ESCAPE by Abir Ali, illustrated by Gulnar Hajo, translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Darf, 2019)

Ruth says:

OK, you’re probably starting to spot a theme – I have no shame about squeezing some of my own translations into my listicles. But honestly, Gulnar Hajo and Abir Ali really need shouting about!

These Syrian authors are spearheading the publishing and bookselling world for Arabic-speaking refugees overseas. Author and illustrator, Gulnar Hajo is also co-founder with Samer Kadri of Bright Fingers Publishing House and Pages Bookshop – the first Arabic-language bookshop catering to the refugee population and Arabic-speaking immigrants in Istanbul and Amsterdam.

This reflective picture book is on the longer side, aimed more at primary school children than preschoolers. It explores an intriguing philosophical question: can a picture book character escape from her book, and can someone whose life is unbearable step out of the page and seek a better life elsewhere? A creative text offering a different perspective on the question of why we might flee our lives and whether we can really start again somewhere else.


there's room for everyone

THERE’S ROOM FOR EVERYONE by Anahita Teymorian (Tiny Owl Books, 2018)

Claire is going to be reviewing this gorgeous picture book on Sunday, but meanwhile, here’s how publisher Delaram Ghanimifard (@dellygh) described it for Books for Topics (Refugees & Immigration):

“A child wonders, if there is room in the sky for all the stars and in the sea for all the fish and in the library for all the books, why people still fight over space? Surely if we are kinder, there is room for everyone in this beautiful world. There’s Room for Everyone is a picture book that talks about conflicts and spaces that can be shared. It makes children think about these concepts compassionately, without thinking of a specific ethnicity as victims of war. The story is timeless, an can open discussions about acceptance and kindness in any context.”

Do follow Claire Storey’s #RefugeeWeekBookBlog series on Twitter (@clairestory16) and us @worldkidlit so you don’t miss Claire’s review on Sunday.


Bonus picture book!


FLUCHT (Refuge), by Niki Glattauer and Verena Hochleitner (Tyrolia Verlag, Austria).

On Friday we’ll feature another picture book – one that isn’t yet published in English – as part of our *Translate This!* series. But if you can’t wait til then, pop over to Claire’s blog for her review and photos from this powerful German-language picture book.


With huge thanks to #WorldKidLit reviewer extraordinaire, Claire Storey! For more Refugee Week reviews of published books and ones yet to be translated from German, please see her blog here.

Claire_Storey_picClaire Storey is an emerging translator based in the UK working from German and Spanish into English. She is in her final year of a part-time MA in Translation Studies at the University of Bristol and attended the Summer School run by the British Centre for Literary Translation in 2018. Her first translated picture book is due for publication later this year. In May 2019, Claire was awarded a Special Commendation by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) in the ITI Awards category for Best Newcomer (Freelancing).


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