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This Winter Help Make Welcome Widespread, with stories to awaken our compassion


Here are nine books recommended by the BBC Radio 4 programme “Open Book” (28/09/23)

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.
This semi-autobiographical classic tells the story of a Jewish family escaping Germany in the days before the Second World War. “Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in it any longer, and you found, to your surprise, that your own father was one of those people. This is what happened to Anna in 1933”. New paperback edition. Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 9780007274772N .

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska.
“This is the gripping, urgent and moving diary of young Ukrainian refugee Yeva Skalietska. It follows twelve days in Ukraine that changed 12-year-old Yeva’s life forever. She was woken in the early hours to the terrifying sounds of shelling. Russia had invaded Ukraine, and her beloved Kharkiv home was no longer the safe haven it should have been. It was while she and her granny were forced to seek shelter in a damp, cramped basement that Yeva decided to write down her story. And it is a story that the world needs to hear. They fled Ukraine for Dublin.” Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. ISBN: 9781526659934 .

In The Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda.
“The hope of a better life is stronger than any other feeling. My mother decided it was better to know I was in danger far from her; but on the way to a different future, than to know I was in danger near her; but stuck in the same old fear. At the age of ten, Enaiatollah Akbari was left alone to fend for himself. This is the heartbreaking, unforgettable story of his journey from Afghanistan to Italy in an attempt to find a safe place to live”. Publisher: Vintage Publishing. ISBN: 9780099555452 .

Boy, Everywhere by AM Dassu.
“Told with unflinching honesty and courage, Boy, Everywhere documents the refugee experience as a well-to-do Syrian family endure hardship and incarceration on the journey to beginning a new life. This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler’s den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery … In a world where we are told to see refugees as the ‘other’, this story will remind readers that ‘they’ are also ‘us’.” Publisher: Old Barn Books. ISBN: 9781910646649 .

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf.
“When a new boy joins their class, a group of children try to befriend him. They soon learn that Ahmet is a refugee and has been separated from his family. None of the grown-ups seem to be able to help him, so the friends come up with a daring plan, embarking on an extraordinary adventure.”. Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group. ISBN: 9781510105010 .

Hidden by Miriam Halahmy.
A novel inspired by stories she heard from members of the Iraqi family into which she married. “For fourteen-year-old Alix, life on Hayling Island off the coast of England seems insulated from problems such as war, terrorism and refugees. But then, one day at the beach, Alix and her friend Samir pull a drowning man out of the incoming tide. Mohammed, an illegal immigrant and student, has been tortured by rebels in Iraq for helping the allied forces and has spent all his money to escape. Desperate not to be deported, Mohammed’s destiny now lies in Alix’s hands, and she is faced with the biggest moral dilemma of her life.”. Publisher: Troika Books. ISBN: 9781909991620 .

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird.
“Twelve-year-old Omar and his brothers and sisters were born and raised in the beautiful and bustling city of Bosra, Syria. Omar doesn’t care about politics – all he wants is to grow up to become a successful businessman who will take the world by storm. But when his clever older brother, Musa, gets mixed up with some young political activists, everything changes . . . Before long, bombs are falling, people are dying, and Omar and his family have no choice but to flee their home with only what they can carry. Yet no matter how far they run, the shadow of war follows them – until they have no other choice than to attempt the dangerous journey to escape their homeland altogether. But where do you go when you can’t go home?” Publisher: Pan Macmillan. ISBN: 9781509840472 .

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann.
“Natalie’s world is falling apart. She’s just lost her mum and her brother marches the streets of Dover full of hate and anger. Swimming is her only refuge. Sammy has fled his home and family in Eritrea for the chance of a new life in Europe. Every step he takes on his journey is a step into an unknown and unwelcoming future. A twist of fate brings them together and gives them both hope. But is hope enough to mend a broken world?” Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK. ISBN: 9780241411445 .

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin.
Graphic novel for children. “Ebo: alone. His sister left months ago. Now his brother has disappeared too, and Ebo knows it can only be to make the hazardous journey to Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his sister”. Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group. ISBN: 9781444931686 .