Fleeing from Home

The topic of refugees is certainly in the news now; hundreds of thousands of people are leaving their homes in the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. We have wonderful books in the Library District to help children and teens begin to understand the difficulties faced by refugees as they flee from war, violence, poverty or other problems. The first four books are located in our juvenile fiction collections. I also am suggesting 2 non-fiction books that would be great to share with older elementary or middle school kids. Further down the post, you can find some Young Adult recommendations. I limited my choices to post-World War II just to keep the number of books manageable, but please ask if you are interested in a different time period.

I read The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney last year and was very moved by the book. The small gift of a red pencil changes the trajectory of a girl’s life by providing a voice and hope for the future.

red pencil

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park has been used across the country in many all-school book discussions.

long walk

Katherine Paterson is well-known for her exceptional historical fiction, and in The Day of the Pelican, she relates the experiences of a Muslim family fleeing from the violence in Kosovo.


The Guatemalan Civil War divides a family and sends some members fleeing to North America in Journey of Dreams by Marge Pelligrino.


These two books are great non-fiction resources for kids who want some facts to go with their novels.

immigrants     out of iraq

On to Teen books! I chose The Good Braider by Terry Farish from the Eliot Rosewater shelf in the Teen area. This is a fast read and I especially appreciated 2 things about the book: the refugee/immigration process is depicted as taking several years to complete and the book explores the difficulties that are faced after arriving in America. It is a great read for teens and adults!

good braider

Laura Rose Wagner takes us to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake in Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go.

hold tight

The Red Pencil, Long Walk to Water and Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go are also available as downloads through the Indiana Digital Download Center.  Just scroll to the top of this page and select the Digital Downloads button.