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Books

The books listed below are fantastic additions to learning curriculums or personal reading ventures.

They explore themes of refugees, asylum seekers, different journeys, government policies, trauma and hardship, human rights, resettlement, societal inclusion and stigma, and more.

I am Australian Too by Mem Fox
I'm Australian! How about you? Many people from many places have come across the seas, to make Australia their home. How Australian is that?

Refugees & Migrants (Children in Our World) by Ceri Roberts
With our 24/7 news cycle and constant access to the latest headlines, the world can be a scary place. Now imagine you're a child trying to make sense of it all! What does this news mean? How does it affect me? That's where Children in Our World can help. This beautifully illustrated non-fiction series takes a timely look at today's biggest issues and sensitively explains the crises that dominate the news in an appropriate way for young children. Each book uses relatable comparisons, carefully researched text, and striking illustrations to help kids understand the many difficulties that children just like them face in the world today. Refugees and Migrants discusses the questions "What does it mean to be a refugee—or a migrant? Why would people leave their homes?" It answers kids' questions, offers reassurance, and empowers them with ways they can help those affected. Where issues are not appropriate to describe in words, award-winning illustrator Hanane Kai uses a deft hand to create powerful illustrations that help children visualize the people impacted by poverty, hunger, war, racism, and more. All of the images are sensitively rendered and perfectly suited for younger children. These books are an excellent cross-curricular resource—use them to explore these important issues and tie them into discussions about food, wealth, compassion, empathy, and current affairs.

The Island by Armin Greder
This harrowing tale, with illustrations that echo The Scream by Edvard Munch, charts the unwelcoming treatment that a man receives when he lands on an island. He is given a stable to sleep, for example, and eventually the people who live there act out of fear and send him out into the ocean.

The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley
A boy in an urban area mishears his mother when she explains that their neighbour is an asylum seeker, and takes his new friend on a quest around the city in search of ‘silence’, only to find that there isn’t much. This story depicts the two roles in a non-stereotypical way, and can help learners think about how to make someone feel welcome.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
This is an extended picture book which takes a long time to read and decode. With no words, this book uses many pictures, and a combination of realistic and fantastical pictures to show the story of a man and his family parting when he travels overseas. Discussion with learners about what the monsters might represent can be thought-provoking and a great way to consolidate learning about the reasons people leave their own countries and become economic migrants, refugees or asylum seekers.

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
Another book with fantastical creatures, The Lost Thing tells the story of a boy who finds someone (or something?) that looks lost, and tries to help him find where he belongs. Instead of through the official system though, the thing finds a secret door into a different world where it is happy.

The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman and Karin Littlewood
A new boy joins the class from Somalia, and at first Miss Kelly thinks he has spoiled the beautifully bright picture he just painted, by adding far too much red and black. But when a translator, Fela, arrives the next day, Hassan tells Miss Kelly and Fela about what happened in Somalia to make him and his family leave. The process makes him feel happier and his house in the UK begins to feel brighter, like the colour of home.

Out by Angela May George
A little girl flees her homeland, making a long and treacherous boat journey with her mother to seek asylum in Australia. Starting a new life is challenging, but they work hard to create a new home. Told from the little girl's point of view, the story is both heartbreaking and triumphant, allowing timely and sensitive discussion of what drives people to become refugees and the challenges they face.

The Little Refugee by Anh Do, Suzanne Do and Bruce Whatley 
Anh Do nearly didn't make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. It was a dangerous journey, with murderous pirates and terrifying storms, but they managed to survive. Life in suburban Australia was also hard for a small boy with no English and funny lunches. But there was a loving extended family, lots of friends, and always something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram. And eventually for a young Anh, who tried hard to see the bright side of life no matter what the difficulty, there was triumph. The Little Refugee tells the uplifting and inspiring story of the incredible childhood of one of Australia's favourite personalities. 

The Rainbow Hijab by Amran Abdi
The Rainbow Hijab’ follows the tale of a young girl who upon losing her favourite hijab uncovers the value it holds. Will things ever be the same without her colourful companion? This book aims to portray the value the hijab holds with Muslim women. It aims to bring about understanding of one of the most misunderstood pieces of clothing. Discover what the hijab is, and what value it holds, firsthand from a Muslim women. Given the current political climate, there has been an increase in Islamophobia attacks towards Muslim women in hijabs. This book aims to bridge the gap of misunderstanding of Islamic ideologies through creative story telling.

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood
The Treasure Box is the story of Peter, a small boy fleeing a ravaged, war-torn city with his father. During this time of tragedy, Peter is entrusted with the care of his father’s most precious possession: a book that he loves more than anything else he owns. As we follow Peter’s journey, he learns the value of sharing his story and keeping the past alive through the relationships and experiences he has in the present. This picture book is about the strength and resilience of the human spirit, the horrors of war and the injustice of loss and having to continue on regardless. Ages 8-12.

The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo
Sade and Femi, two children in Nigeria, are forced to leave when their mother is killed, and their father, a writer, realises that they are in danger.

Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
Jamal and Bibi both love football, even though football is frowned upon in Afghanistan, and is absolutely forbidden for girls. The brother and sister leave for Australia with their mother and father when the government begins to search for them. A story of adventure, ball control and hope. Jamal and Bibi have a dream. To lead Australia to soccer glory in the next World Cup. But first they must face landmines, pirates, storms and assassins. Can Jamal and his family survive their incredible journey and get to Australia? Sometimes, to save the people you love, you have to go overboard.

Girl Underground by Morris Gleitzman
This follow on tells the story of an Australian girl who helps Jamal while he is in a detention centre. The not really so happy ending from the first book leaves many children hanging, and this sequel resolves things not unhappily. Especially, it shows through the main character, what individuals can do to help.

Hidden by Miriam Halahmy
A teenage girl, Alix, who lives on a sleepy island on the south coast of the UK, finds a drowning immigrant on the beach, and begins to help him. Whilst also learning about Migration at school, she struggles to reach a decision about whether to tell anyone who she has found.

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
Alem journeys from the Eritrea / Ethiopia border where a war is happening. He is helped by the Refugee Council to find a family that looks after him. He suffers from stigma at school, but battles it and shows strength.

I am Malala (young readers edition) by Malala Yousafzai
Learn about Malala Yousafzai; a young person who is a high profile asylum seeker from Pakistan now living in Birmingham in the UK. Readers can identify examples of stigma, discrimination, migration, welcome, unwelcome, help etc that appear in the story.

Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley
A dramatic picture book for older readers that poses the question - what would happen if a typical Australian family found themselves refugees?

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do
The extraordinary story of a boy’s journey from starvation at sea to becoming one of Australia’s best-loved comedians. 

My Australian Story: Refugee by Alan Sunderland
I heard the voice of my father, arguing with the Taliban. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I could tell he was angry, and then I could tell they were all angry. My uncle has told me that the Taliban pass through all the villages in our valley, and they take boys like me to fight with them.
After the Taliban kill his father, Ali flees Afghanistan, arriving in Australia on a ramshackle boat. He is looking for freedom, but instead he is taken to a detention centre in the South Australian outback.
Imprisoned behind the razor wire, Ali waits to discover whether he will be sent back to Afghanistan, or given the chance to start a new life in Australia.

Soraya the Storyteller by Rosanne Hawke 
Soraya is an 11-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan living under the shadow of a temporary protection visa. Soraya and her family begin a new life in a South Australian town. She attends school for the first time, though she had been taught at home. 

She studies hard so she'll be put in a higher class and be able to stay in Australia, and she begins to make friends, not just at school but with the 'possum man', who lives in her street. Soraya remembers how her older sister and brother died in Kabul, and how her favourite brother, Qamar, was taken by the Taliban to fight. Her father died in prison. She remembers some of the journey to Australia and the year in the detention centre.

Refuge by Jackie French 
When a boat carrying a group of asylum seekers is sunk by a freak wave, Faris wakes from the shipwreck in an Australia he's always dreamed of. There are kangaroos grazing under orange trees and the sky is always blue. On a nearby beach, Faris meets a group of young people who have come from far different times and places. They are also seeking refuge, and each has their own story of why they had to leave their own story of why they had to leave their country to make a new life for themselves. It is only when Faris chooses to return to 'real life' and find his father in Australia that he learns the extraordinary truth about the friends he made in the golden beach. 

We are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Peace Prize winner and bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the faces behind the statistics and news stories we read or hear every day about the millions of people displaced worldwide.

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani
An autobiographical account of Behrouz Boochani's perilous journey to Christmas Island and his subsequent incarceration in an Australian government immigration detention facility on Manus Island. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for Literature and for Non-Fiction 2019.

Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka
A hilarious yet challenging look at the experience of illegal fruit pickers in the south of England, and what happens when their job gets too dangerous to stay.

What is the What by Dave Eggers
Valentino Achak Deng is just a boy when conflict separates him from his family and forces him to leave his small Sudanese village, joining thousands of other orphans on their long, long walk to Ethiopia, where they find safety - for a time.
    
Offshore: Behind the wire on Manus and Nauru by Madeline Gleeson 
This book provides a comprehensive and uncompromising overview of the first three years of offshore processing since it recommenced in 2012. It explains why offshore processing was re-established, what life is like for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus, what asylum seekers, refugees and staff in the offshore detention centres have to say about what goes on there, and why the truth has been so hard to find.

The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny 
The true story of Ali Al Jenabi, the ‘Oskar Schlindler of Asia’. At once a non-fiction thriller and a moral maze, this is one man’s epic story of trying to find a safe place in the world. 

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence
The Dadaab refugee camp is many things: to the charity workers, it’s a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, a “nursery for terrorists”; to the Western media, a dangerous no-go area. But to its half a million residents, it’s their last resort. Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp, sketching the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped.

The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay
At 12 Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan, after his father was killed. Smuggled into Iran, he began a 12-month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, journeying across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a month in the camp at Calais. He survived and made it to Britain where he was fostered, sent to a good school, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012.

The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley
Described as the definitive book on the refugee crisis, from the Guardian's award-winning migration correspondent, Patrick Kingsley. Throughout 2015, Kingsley travelled to 17 countries along the migrant trail, meeting hundreds of refugees making epic odysseys across deserts, seas and mountains to reach the holy grail of Europe. This is Kingsley's unparalleled account of who these voyagers are.

The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria by Samar Yazbek
Powerful insight into the effects of civil war on the Syrian people and why so many are desperate to flee, by award-winning Syrian journalist Samar Yazbek.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The central character is a middle-aged man who arrives in a strange new place and tries to find a place to live, a job and a handle on a new language. He encounters many challenges, all described entirely through visual sequences. The absence of words emphasises the strangeness of the situation and the loneliness experienced by many migrants, but the ending is full of affirmation and hope, when the wife and son the migrant had to leave behind are finally able to join him in their new homeland.

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie. Carrying a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck - both talismans of her family's past and the mother she's lost - Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence. As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie's family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures. 

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo 
Never have Aman and his mother needed a friend more than when a Springer Spaniel appears - thin and war-ravaged - in the mouth of their Afghan cave. Nursed back to health by Aman, the dog becomes a constant companion, a shadow, and that's what Aman decides to call her. But life in Afghanistan becomes more dangerous by the moment. Eventually, Aman, his mother and Shadow find the courage to embark upon the treacherous journey from war-torn Afghanistan to the safely of a relative's home in Manchester, England. But how far can Shadow lead them? And in this terrifying new world, is anywhere really safe...?

Walking Free by Munjed Al Muderis and Patrick Weaver
The extraordinary true story of a young man who fled war-torn Iraq, came to Australia as a refugee by boat, spent months in a detention centre and went on to become a pioneering surgeon.

A Hope More Powerful than the Sea by Melissa Fleming
Emotionally riveting and eye-opening; the incredible story of a young woman, an international crisis, and the triumph of the human spirit. Melissa Fleming shares the harrowing journey of Doaa Al Zamel, a young Syrian refugee in search of a better life. 

Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life. 

Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time by David Miliband
We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis. Sixty five million people are fleeing for their lives. The choices are urgent, not just for them but for all of us. What can we possibly do to help? With compassion and clarity, David Miliband shows why we should care and how we can make a difference. He takes us from war zones in the Middle East to the heart of Europe to explain the crisis and show what can be done, not just by governments with the power to change policy but by citizens with the urge to change lives. His innovative and practical call to action shows that the crisis need not overwhelm us. Miliband says this is a fight to uphold the best of human nature in the face of rhetoric and policy that humour the worst. He defends the international order built by western leaders out of the ashes of the Second World War, but says now is the time for reform. Describing his family story as the son of refugees, and drawing revealing lessons from his life in politics, David Miliband shows that if we fail refugees then we betray our own history, values and interests. The message is simple: rescue refugees and we rescue ourselves

We Are Here by Cat Thao Nguyen
We Are Here is a memoir that begins in 1975 with Cat Thao’s family's gripping exodus by foot out of post-war Vietnam - a dangerous journey, unimaginable to most, on which most perished.

The escape of Cat Thao's family from persecution traverses the horrific jungles of Khmer Rouge Cambodia and into the crowded refugee camps of Thailand. From which, finally, the Nguyens were allowed to board a Qantas plane to a freedom they wanted desperately. But the stark, contrasting suburban landscapes of Western Sydney, Australia were not the unalloyed blessing they'd imagined.

Against the backdrop of an immigrant experience, Cat Thao tells of her coming of age in Australia, haunted by lingering trauma but buoyed by instincts of hope, reinvention and survival. Cat Thao details her struggles with growing up: from her bad skin and hairy legs, to Vietnamese mysticism and kinship, and bound throughout by familial loyalty and honour.

We Are Here explores an Australia of the 80s and 90s, and a family's tireless journey for peace through a young woman's absolute determination to find her place.

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park
Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be "completely free," she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.

After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari
The heart-rending story of a child 'Tampa' refugee who grew up to become a Fulbright scholar, highlighting the plight and potential of refugees everywhere. Twenty years after the Tampa affair, Abbas tells his amazing story, from living under Taliban rule, to spending a terrifying month at sea, to building a new life at the bottom of the world. A powerful and inspiring story celebrating the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

New Humans of Australia (coffee table book) by Nicola Gray
Containing a range of fascinating migrant stories, the book is heartwarming and inspirational, and reminds us of just how lucky we are to be living in Australia.

Seeking Asylum: Our Stories (coffee table book) by Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Dive into stories of resilience, injustice, courage, achievement and hope told by those who have lived the experience of seeking asylum, and told in their own words. Accompanied by beautiful portrait photographs, these stories illustrate the depth and diversity of people’s experiences and trace the impact of Australia’s immigration policies.