How do you introduce young people to the issues surrounding the journeys, often full of dangers, of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants as they seek to join new countries and face new challenges when they arrive? For younger children there are some fine picturebooks often telling of one family’s or one person’s experiences. Mary Hoffman and Karin Littlewood’s moving book The Colour of Home tells how Hassan, a refugee child from Somalia, struggles to relate to a new country while Shaun Tan’s silent graphic novel allows readers of any age to create the compelling story of one immigrant’s experiences from arresting pictures.
However, there is also a need for books giving clear definitions of the different categories of incomers and providing the information older children and young people need to develop an informed understanding of important issues. Who are Refugees and Migrants? clarifies terminology and gives clear information. But it also encourages young readers to come to their own judgments and opinions based on evidence. The organisation of the book is helpful with each section heading taking the form of a question – for example ‘Who are refugees and migrants?’, ‘What makes people leave their homes?’, ‘How do refugees and migrants travel?’ and ‘What happens when they arrive?’ There are also sections on ‘Migration through history’ and ‘What is culture and how do we share it?’ But, above all, what makes this book interesting and valuable is the interweaving of information and pertinent questions with powerful personal experiences. Each of the authors gives an account of their own rich background and we also learn about the experiences of Muzoon Almellehan, Omid Djalili, Meltem Avcil and Benjamin Zephaniah. This book will be an excellent resource for teachers and pupils in the upper primary school and lower secondary school years.