Art Resist: Back-to-School Reading List for the Conscious Soul

In today’s political climate, the discourse children overhear is often volatile and harmful in that the devaluing of certain peoples’ lives have become almost normal. Thus, in spirit of the back-to-school sales, ARO have compiled a list of picture books that were either written by refugees themselves or by those close to them. As an example of passing the mike rather than speaking for the people who have speaking for months and years, the listed books are accompanied with links to sites in which you may safely purchase them. Please help us in spreading the wealth and if you know of a literature or artwork of the same cause, please comment below with the title, author, and link if possible.

Travelling Tales by child refugees in Greece

The brainchild of Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz, Travelling Tales is a storybook of fairy tales written by refugee children in Greece. For four months, the sisters ran workshops for Syrian and Kurdish children aged between 4 and 14 in three refugee camps in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro. In an interview, de Pina Castiglione explained that the objective of the project was to let the children tell the stories they wanted to and in the ways they chose. Readers will have the joy of being privy to worlds in which chicken fight back aliens and lumberjacks, who have once aged, are rejuvenated through the help and wisdom of their wives.

Available in English, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Dutch.

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs 

Inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs tells the story of a Syrian family forced to flee because of the civil war at home. Follow Rama and her family as they set out to Europe in hopes of finding freedom from war and tragedy.

Available in English and Arabic.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

A multiple award-winning book acclaimed by a number of notable journals and literature circles, The Journey is a story about many journeys based on a compilation of interviews that started when the author met two girls in a refugee center in Italy. Narrated by an anonymous child, the tale demands emotional stamina from the readers as they follow the child into a story of a refugee family’s struggle for survival.

Available in English.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed

When relief workers begin to distribute supplies, ten-year-old Lina scrambles and successfully finds one shoes that fits her like a glove. The other pair, however, is found on the foot of Feroza, a girl like her who also lives in the refugee camp. Through this fated meeting, Lina and Feroza’s friendship blossoms despite the difficulties they face as children refugees. The story was inspired by a refugee girl who came up to the author and asked why no storybooks told tales of children like her.

Available in English.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shodes

The true story of how the Internet and worldwide community helped an Iraqi refugee family reunite with their beloved cat KunKush is now available as a picture book. In a language comprehensible to children as young as 4 years old, the book helps foster empathy in those far removed from the crisis in hopes of raising a generation in which empathizing is a natural reaction rather than an emotional exercise.

Available in English.


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