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Immigrant and Refugee Families
— Stories and Resources
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Adrift at Sea: a Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival. Marsha
Forchuk Skrypuch, with Tuan Ho, Illustrated by Brian Deines, $22.95
It is 1981. In the middle of the South China Sea, a
fishing boat overloaded with 60 Vietnamese refugees drifts. The motor has
failed; the hull is leaking; the drinking water is nearly gone. This is the
dramatic true story recounted by Tuan Ho, who was six years old when he, his
mother, and two sisters dodged the bullets of Vietnam’s military police for the
perilous chance of boarding that boat. Illustrated with sweeping oil paintings
and complete with an expansive historical and biographical section with
photographs, this non-fiction picture book is all the more important as the
world responds to a new generation of refugees risking all on the open water
for the chance at safety and a new life.
The Arrival. Shaun Tan, $26.99
The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of
wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man
leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in
an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds
himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious
floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a
suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live,
food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by
sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of
struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and
The Blessing Cup. Patricia Polacco, $19.99
As a young Russian Jewish girl in the early 1900s, Anna
and her family lived in fear of the Czar’s soldiers. The family lived a hard
life and had few possessions — their treasure was a beautiful china tea set. A
wedding gift to Anna’s parents, the tea set came with a wish that “Anyone who
drinks from this will have blessings from God. They will never know a day of
hunger. Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy and
they will never be poor.”
When Anna’s family leaves Russia for America, they bring
the tea set and its blessings. A source of heritage and security, the tea set
helps Anna’s family make friends and find better lives in America. A cup from
the tea set — The Blessing Cup — became an anchor of family history, and it
remains a symbol of lasting love more than a century later. This tender tribute
to the importance of loving lineage is a prequel and companion to the perennial
bestseller The Keeping Quilt and is told and illustrated with
authenticity and tremendous heart.
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Child Health Across Cultures: the Health, Wellbeing
and Special Needs of Children from Diverse Backgrounds - a Resource for
Teachers and Others with an Interest in Strengthening the Health of Children
Experiencing More Than One Culture. Judith Colbert, $29.95
Child Health Across Cultures focuses on the
critical importance of child health among diverse at-risk populations. By
drawing on international research in various fields, author Judith Colbert
explores global patterns of health and dis/ability, and recommendations for
responding to health issues.
The book invites educators, clinicians and others to take
steps toward providing the knowledge and support needed to promote the
physical, mental, and social health of all members of the community - including
vulnerable immigrant and newcomer children.
The Colour of Home. Mary Hoffman & Karin
Mary Hoffman's story of a refugee child, illustrated by
Karin Littlewood's sensitive art, introduces the issue of asylum to a young
audience. This compassionate book will be a great resource for classrooms,
homes and libraries.
The Day I Became a Canadian: a Citizenship Scrapbook. Jo Bannatyne Gugnet, illustrated by Song Nan Zhang, $12.99
On a snowy morning, little Xiao Ling Li and her parents
are about to take part in a ceremony — one that will make them Canadian
citizens. To record the day for her new brother or sister, she decides to keep
a scrapbook to treasure the day.
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From Far Away. Robert Munsch & Saoussan Askar,
illustrated by Rebecca Green, $23.95
Although first published in 1995, From Far Away is more
relevant today than it has ever been. This story is based on the real-life
experience of Saoussan Askar, who emigrated with her family from war-torn
Lebanon when she was seven years old. While still in elementary school, Saoussan
wrote to bestselling author Robert Munsch about her situation. Together, they
turned her story into a book. This updated edition, with revised text including
a note from Saoussan today and fresh, new illustrations, belongs in every
classroom. Young children who themselves have arrived as immigrants will
readily relate to Saoussan’s frustrations of not understanding the teacher, not
knowing how to ask to go to the bathroom, and being terrified of a prop
skeleton. From Far Away will also help sensitize other children to the
difficulties experienced by their immigrant classmates.
The Great Diversity Debate: Embracing Pluralism in
School and Society. Kent Koppelman, $35.50
The Great Diversity Debate describes the presence
and growth of diversity in the United States from its earliest years to the
present. The author describes the evolution of the concept of pluralism from a
philosophical term to a concept used in many disciplines and with global
significance. Rather than assuming that diversity is a benefit, Koppelman
investigates the ways in which diversity is actually experienced and debated
across critical sectors of social experience, including immigration,
affirmative action, education, and national identity, among others. Koppelman
takes the sometimes complicated arguments for and against diversity in school
and in society and lays out the benefits with great clarity and simplicity
making this book accessible to a large audience.
Here I Am. Patti Kim, $8.95
Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his
family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in
this dazzling wordless picture book. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits,
games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special
keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again
become the happy, confident kid he used to be? Walk in his shoes as he takes
the first tentative steps toward discovering joy in his new world. A poignant
and affirming view of the immigrant experience.
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I’m New Here. Anne Sibley O’Brien,$18.95
Maria is from Spain, Jin is from Korea, and Fatima is
from Somalia. All three are new to their American elementary school, and each
has trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English. Through
self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the
students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without
losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity.
Immigration. Harriet Brundle, $26.99 (K-2)
- What does it mean to be an
- Why do people move to a new home?
- How does it feel when they get
This informative title answers all the big questions on
immigration and helps children to understand this topical issue from a range of
perspectives. Modern images and accessible text make each page engaging for
Joseph's Big Ride. Terry Farish, illustrated by
Ken Daley, $12.95
A refugee boy’s determination to ride a bicycle leads to
an unexpected friendship.
Joseph wants only one thing: to ride a bike. In the
refugee camp where he lives, Joseph helps one of the older boys fix his bike,
but he’s too small to ride it.
Joseph and his mother travel to America, where everything
is strange and new. One day, he spots a red bike that seems just right for him!
It belongs to a girl with a whoosh of curly hair.
When Whoosh crashes her bike, Joseph offers to fix it.
His big chance has finally come, except that Joseph doesn’t know how to ride!
He falls a few times, picks himself up, and tries again, until suddenly, with a
shout of triumph, he’s riding the bike.
Inspired by the author’s interviews with refugee children
from Sudan, this gentle story evokes the experience of a new immigrant.
Vibrantly colorful paintings bring a warm and humorous portrait of friendship
and diversity to life.
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The Journey. Francesca Sanna, $25.95
“I look up to the birds that seem to be following us.
They are migrating just like us. And their journey, like ours, is very long,
but they don’t have to cross any borders.”
What is it like to have to leave everything behind and
travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two
children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but
also great hope. Based on her interactions with people forced to seek a new
home, and told from the perspective of a young child, Francesca Sanna has
created a beautiful and sensitive book that is full of significance for our
Lailah's Lunchbox: a Ramadan Story. Reem Faruqi,
illustrated by Lea Lyon, $10.95
Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of
miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she
is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but
worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the
lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and
her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect
Malaika's Winter Carnival. Nadia Hohn, illustrated
by Irene Luxbacher, $18.95
Malaika is happy to be reunited with Mummy, but it means
moving to Canada, where everything is different. It’s cold in Québec City, no
one understands when she talks and Carnival is nothing like the celebration
Malaika knows from home!
When Mummy marries Mr. Frédéric, Malaika gets a new
sister called Adèle. Her new family is nice, but Malaika misses Grandma. She
has to wear a puffy purple coat, learn a new language and get used to calling
this new place home. Things come to a head when Mummy and Mr. Frédéric take
Malaika and Adèle to a carnival. Malaika is dismayed that there are no colorful
costumes and that it’s nothing like Carnival at home in the Caribbean! She is
so angry that she kicks over Adèle’s snow castle, but that doesn’t make her
feel any better. It takes a video chat with Grandma to help Malaika see the
good things about her new home and family.
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My Beautiful Birds. Suzanne Del Rizzo, $19.95
Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy
follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge
through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their
homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons — will they escape too? He
can’t forget his birds and what his family has left behind. Until, one day a
canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami
and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing
process at last.
A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil
war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its
children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to
pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of
people as they struggle to redefine home.
The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High
School for Immigrant Teens. Brooke Hauser, $20.00 (includes a reading
Some walked across deserts and mountains. Others flew on
planes. One arrived after escaping in a suitcase. And some won't say how they
got here. A singular work of narrative journalism, The New Kids chronicles
a year in the life of a remarkable group of these teenage newcomers, who all
attend the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. The
unforgettable portraits of young people dealing with enormous obstacles, as
they carve out new lives for themselves, will leave you rooting for these kids
long after reading the stories of where they come from, how they got here and
where they are going next.
Our New Home: Immigrant Children Speak. Edited by
Emily Hearn & Marywinn Milne, $13.95
What is it like to leave home and arrive in a place where
everything is new — language, weather, customs and people?
Every year families from around the world leave their
homes to start a new life in a new place and they each have a story. In Our
New Home, children use their writing and artwork to share these
stories with us. Their words and pictures tell of the fear and sadness, the
excitement and challenge of moving to a new country and starting a new life.
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OUT. Angela May George & Owen Swan,
I'm called an asylum seeker, but that's not my name. We came
here on a boat. Our trip took so long, sometimes I wondered if I would ever
walk on grass again.
A brave little girl and her mother escape a war-torn
land. On the difficult sea voyage there is little to eat, but there is abundant
love and caring. Her adopted country offers a safe place to live, a new school,
and supportive friends. There are also hurtful labels, flashbacks, and the
ever-present ache of a missing father. Over time there’s a new job for her
mother, time for play, music — even dancing! — and hope for the future.
Timely, powerful and moving, Out celebrates the
resilience of the human spirit in the darkest times, and the many paths people
take to build a new life.
Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada. Teresa
This new anthology features stories by some of Canada's
finest authors who were born in another country and who went through the
experience of trying to "fit in." From the shock of first impressions
to the first stirrings of "becoming Canadian" and what that meant to
them, this collection speaks of a powerful desire to be accepted, to feel at
Reading and Expressive Writing with Traumatised
Children, Young Refugees, and Asylum Seekers: Unpack My Heart with Words.
Marion Baraitser, $45.95
This book explores how literature can be used to help
young victims cope with their experiences. The process of reading, discussing
and rewriting carefully selected texts can have a significant therapeutic
impact, as the young person identifies his or her own experience in the
narrative. This book guides readers through all aspects of implementing
biblio/narrative therapy with children and adolescents, from the importance of
cultural sensitivity and understanding the psychological needs of the child to
providing more practical information on how to choose the right text and
encourage expression through the spoken and written word. It includes exercises
for use in sessions, an analysis of the importance of symbol when working
therapeutically with children, and a complete account of the ethics of good
practice. Drawing on the author's innovative work with young asylum seekers and
refugees, and with an overview of the latest research in creativity, language
and memory, the book provides a comprehensive and practical resource on the use
of literature to help young victims regain their dignity and overcome the
overwhelmed hurt self.
This book will be of immeasurable value to students and
practitioners world-wide in arts and health care who work with traumatised
young people, including counsellors, clinical psychologists, educational
psychologists, teachers, psychotherapists and social workers.
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Refugees. Harriet Brundle, $26.99 (K-2)
- Why do people become refugees?
- How does it feel to be a refugee?
- How do refugees travel to a new
Illustrated with photos and engaging graphics, Refugees offers
young readers an opportunity to ask — and perhaps find answers to — some
difficult questions about a complex issue.
Refugees and Migrants. Ceri Roberts & Hanane
Kai, $12.50 (ages 6-10)
The Children in Our World picture book
series helps children make sense of the larger issues and crises that dominate
the news in a sensitive and appropriate manner. With relatable comparisons,
carefully researched text and striking illustrations, children can begin to
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.
Where issues aren't appropriate to describe in words,
Hanane Kai's striking and sensitive illustrations help children visualise in
images that are suited to their age and disposition. The series forms an
excellent cross-curricular resource that looks at refugees, war, poverty and
racism making them ideal for tying into discussions on current affairs.
Stepping Stones: a Refugee Family's Journey.
Margaret Ruurs, illustrated by Nizar Ali Badr, $20.00
Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and
her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the
ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they
can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother,
Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone
images illustrate the story.
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Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees. Mary
Beth Leatherdale & Eleanor Shakespeare, $14.95 (grades 5-8)
The plight of refugees risking their lives at sea has,
unfortunately, made the headlines all too often in the past few years. This
book presents five true stories, from 1939 to today, about young people who
lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum:
Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone
from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the United States from Cuba; Najeeba
flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; and after losing his family, Mohamed
abandons his village on the Ivory Coast in search of a new life.
Stormy Seas combines a vivid and contemporary
collage-based design with dramatic storytelling to produce a book that makes
for riveting reading as well as a source of timely information. These
remarkable accounts will give readers a keen appreciation of the devastating
effects of war and poverty on youth like themselves, and helps put the mounting
current refugee crisis into stark context.
Supporting Refugee Children: Strategies for Educators. Jan
Supporting Refugee Children covers the lived
experiences of refugee children who immigrate to North America and the
challenges and successes that these children and their families experience; the
systems, structures, or programs that assist with the process of adjustment for
refugee children; and strategies and activities that help newcomer children
adjust to life after migration. Each chapter begins with a case study or
personal story about the experience of a refugee child or family to illustrate
the key issues discussed. A concluding chapter offers recommendations for
policy and practice.
Welcoming Newcomer Children: the Settlement of Young
Immigrants and Refugees - a Resource for Teachers and Others with an Interest
in Supporting Young Newcomers from Birth though Kindergarten. Judith
Welcoming Newcomer Children offers a new and
comprehensive perspective on child settlement. Drawing on international
research in various fields, the book examines values and beliefs from a
non-western point of view, questioning accepted practices, priorities &
standards. Author Judith Colbert suggests new strategies for working with
children from birth through kindergarten. The book invites reader reflection,
and supports teachers with:
- Implications for Practice
- 10 Mainstream Benchmarks of Quality
- Fully referenced Bibliography & Index
- Professional practices that sustain program quality
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When I Get Older: the Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag. K’naan,
illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, $19.99
K’nann tells the story of his early life in Mogadishu,
Somalia, and of the difficulties of being a child refugee in a land far from
home. This is the story that inspired K’naan’s famous anthem “Wavin’ Flag”, a
song known the world over, that speaks of freedom and dignity.
Where Will I Live? Rosemary McCarney, $19.95
Every child needs a home. They need somewhere safe where
they can be happy, eat their meals with their family, play with their toys, and
go to sleep at night feeling unafraid. But many children all over the world
have had to leave their homes because they are no longer safe. Because of war
and conflict, they and their families have become refugees. For them life is
hard and full of questions. In spite of everything, they find time to laugh,
play, and make friends. And most importantly, they have hope that somewhere,
someone will welcome them to a new home.
Written by Rosemary McCarney, Canada's Ambassador to the
United Nations, Where Will I Live? will help children whose lives are
not directly affected by this crisis think about the importance of home, and
what life is like for a child refugee who does not have a permanent, safe home
to shelter them and their family. The beautiful photographs in this book were
taken by the UNHCR — the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — and
include images of children on the move and in refugee camps in countries such
as Lebanon, Rwanda, Iraq, Niger, Hungary, Jordan, South Sudan, and Greece.
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