Tag Archives: Survival

Refugees: Their Stories

Refugees: Their Stories

An immigrant is a person who leaves his or her home country to work, study or live in a new country. Sometimes people are immigrants to get an education that is not available in their home country. Sometimes people immigrate to do a particular job or to live in a country whose customs and laws are different than their home country.

A special kind of immigrant is a refugee. Their reasons for leaving their home country are different. A refugee is a person who is fleeing his or her home country to escape danger, like a war, or to escape persecution. Persecution is being hurt based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group or having a particular political opinion. The United States welcomes many immigrants each year to live and work and study, as well as giving refuge to people who have fled their home country for their own safety. 

The Journey is a story that will help you understand what it is like to have to leave everything you know behind to start over somewhere new.  Below are more books written by, or about, refugees. By reading these books you can live for just a little while, in their experience. I did not grow up afraid. I did not have to worry about living in a war zone, being hurt or being persecuted. I also didn’t want to think about having to move and change schools, let alone thinking about starting a whole new life somewhere and having to learn a new language and new customs and meet all new people. I don’t know what that’s like because I never had to do it. These stories help me see the challenges that refugees face starting a new life – kids facing anxiety and fear and danger with courage. Sometimes you meet new friends in person. Sometimes you meet them in books. Here are some kids I think you will be proud to know.


Non-Fiction:

adrift-at-seaAdrift at Sea: a Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Tuan and his family survive bullets, a broken motor, and a leaking boat in the long days they spend at sea after fleeing Vietnam. A true story as told to the author by Tuan Ho. Includes family photographs and a historical note about the Vietnamese crisis.


immigrants-and-refugeesImmigrants and Refugees – Describes current patterns of migration around the world, including the causes and effects of immigration and emigration.


the-journey-that-saved-curious-georgeThe Journey That Saved Curious George: the True Wartime Ecape of Margret and H.A. Rey – In 1940, Hans and Margret Rey fled their Paris home as the German army advanced. They began their harrowing journey on bicycles, pedaling to Southern France with children’s book manuscripts, including what would become the international sensation “Curious George,” among their few possessions. This is their dramatic story.


out-of-iraqOut of Iraq Refugees’ Stories in Words, Paintings & Music – Out of Iraq tells the stories of a number of Iraqi refugee families that have made Syria their home over the 5 years since the war in Iraq began. This book tells the stories of their flight from Iraq, the memories of home in the ‘good old days’ and their continued courage living as refugees.


a-song-for-cambodiaA Song for Cambodia – A biography of Arn Chorn-Pond who, as a young boy in 1970s Cambodia, survived the Khmer Rouge killing fields because of his skill on the khim, a traditional instrument, and later went on to help heal others and revive Cambodian music and culture.


Stories:

josephs-big-rideJoseph’s Big Ride – A refugee boy’s determination to ride a bicycle leads to an unexpected friendship.


teacupTeacup – A boy travels across the sea in a rowboat in search of a new home, making a journey that is long and difficult–but also filled with beauty and hope.


calling-the-water-drumCalling the Water Drum – A young boy loses both parents as they attempt to flee Haiti for a better life, and afterward is only able to process his grief and communicate with the outside world through playing the drums.



brothers-in-hope

Brothers in Hope: the Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan
– Eight-year-old Garang, orphaned by a civil war in Sudan, finds the inner strength to help lead other boys as they trek hundreds of miles seeking safety in Ethiopia, then Kenya, and finally in the United States.


four-feet-two-sandalsFour Feet Two Sandals – Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals brought by relief workers.


the-color-of-homeThe Color of Home – Hassan, newly-arrived in the United States and feeling homesick, paints a picture at school that shows his old home in Somalia as well as the reason his family had to leave.


how-i-learned-geographyHow I Learned Geography – As he spends hours studying his father’s world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author’s childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II. Newbery Honor Book


when-i-get-olderWhen I Get Older – A Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer and songwriter tells his own story about leaving war-torn Somalia as a child, growing up in Canada and creating a hit song that touched millions of people around the world with its powerful message of hope.


how-many-days-to-america-a-thanksgiving-storyHow Many Days to America: a Thanksgiving Story – Refugees from a Caribbean island embark on a dangerous boat trip to America where they have a special reason to celebrate Thanksgiving.


oskar-and-the-eight-blessings

Oskar and the Eight Blessings – A young Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany arrives in New York City on the seventh night of Hanukkah and receives small acts of kindness while exploring the city.


the-journeyThe Journey – What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and is two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it’s not always clear how best to protect themselves.


refugeRefuge – A retelling of the nativity story from a perspective emphasizing the struggle of Mary and Joseph as refugee.


stepping-stonesStepping Stones – In this picture book, a young girl and her family are forced to flee their village to escape the civil war that has engulfed Syria and make their way toward freedom in Europe.


bamboo-peopleBamboo People – Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 6-8 Nominee.


home-of-the-braveHome of the Brave – Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2009-2010, 6-8 Nominee.


inside-out-and-back-againInside Out and Back Again – Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama. National Book Award Winner; Young Hoosier Book Award, 2013-2014, 4-6 Nominee; Newbery Honor Book


a-long-walk-to-waterA Long Walk to Water – When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2012-2013, 6-8 Nominee.


the-only-roadThe Only Road – Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous journey from his home in Guatemala to his older brother in New Mexico after his cousin is murdered by a drug cartel.


the-red-pencilThe Red Pencil – After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder.


serafinas-promiseSerafina’s Promise – In a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Serafina works hard to help her family, but dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor–then the earthquake hits and Serafina must summon all her courage to find her father and still get medicine for her sick baby brother as she promisedYoung Hoosier Book Award, 2016-2017, 4-6 Nominee.


shooting-kabulShooting Kabul – Escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, eleven-year-old Fadi and his family immigrate to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fadi schemes to return to the Pakistani refugee camp where his little sister was accidentally left behind. Cybil Award for Middle Grade Nomination 2010.

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Survival

Survival

Tools of NavigationWhen you’re talking survival you’re talking many different things. Can you read a map? Can you use a compass? Could you find food in the woods? How about bears…do you know how to keep one from attacking you? You live in Indiana, do you know how to keep yourself safe during tornadoes? These books will show you all the skills you need to survive all kinds of anxious situations. You can even learn how to protect yourself from piranhas…not a likely attack…but good to know!

Websites

Books

The Boys Book of Outdoor Survival The Boys Book of Surival Using Math to Survive in the Wild Alone in the Wilderness
Can You Survive in the Jungle? Defying Death in the Desert Disaster in the Mountains! Everest You Decide How to Survive
How to Survive in Antarctica Left for Dead! Survive Alive Finding Your Way Survivor Kid Wilderness Survival
True Mountain Rescue Stories True Wilderness Rescue Stories The World's Most Amazing Survival Stories

And while you’re getting your own skills up to par try some of these survival stories that put characters to the test.  Put yourself in their place. Could YOU do it? For me…dangling from rock outcroppings, dodging poisonous lizards, eating spiders…no! Living in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse…yes!

Alabama Moon Call it Courage The Girl Who Owned a City The Cay
Hatchet Holes Island of the Blue Dolphins Julie of the Wolves
My Side of the Mountain Poppy Robinson Crusoe Sign of the Beaver
Marooned Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World The Swiss Family Robinson True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
A Girl Named Disaster A Long Walk to Water Night of the Howling Dogs Small as an Elephant

More Books about Survival

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A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

Part of this story is about a boy named Salva. He lives in Sudan, a country in Africa, during a Civil War that happened there in 1985. The other part of this story is about a girl namy Nya and takes place in Sudan right now.

When we say “The Civil War” here in America we are referring to our own Civil War that happened 150 years ago. The Civil War in Sudan was only 25 years ago. During the War in Sudan many people were killed, children were made orphans and families were separated. In order to get to safety many people WALKED to Ethiopia or Kenya.

When you are reading Salva’s part of the story you hear about how he slept on the ground at night and could hear lions hunting around him:

Marial was gone – vanished into the night. He would never have wandered away from the group on his own. His disappearance could mean only one thing. Lion. (page 40)

Salva even has to cross a river infested with crocodiles. Some of the people do not make it across the river. On the other side of the river is a desert…which the people also have to walk across. Can you even imagine surving a journey like that? I can’t.

Nya’s part of the story is about how she walks twice a day, EVERY DAY to a pond to get water. Nya carries the water in a plastic jug and balances it on her head to walk home. That’s what she does every single day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The pond is so far away from her home that she has no time to do anything else. No school. No playing. Just walking – carrying water to keep her family alive.

A Long Walk to Water shows you how Salva’s story and Nya’s story are related even though they take place 25 years apart.

There are parts of the book that are hard to read and very, very sad. Some parts are scary. In the end, though, this is a book about really good things. It is about people looking after each other – even if they are stangers to begin with. It is about trying hard and doing your part and it is about hoping for something better.

The really great thing is that A Long Walk to Water is based on a real boy named Salva – you can see his picture with the author on the book jacket or in the video below. (He’s grown up now.) At the end of the book there is a letter to you from Salva that I think you’ll like to read. The best thing he says is, “Stay calm when things are hard or not going right with you. You will get thorugh it when you persevere instead of quitting.” (page 117) Those are pretty powerful words when you realize they come from a kid who survived a situation much, much more difficult than anything we will probably ever face.

  • Amazon Look Inside A Long Walk to Waterwater-for-sudan-logo
  • Linda Sue Park’s Official Website
  • Linda Sue Park’s Blog
  • Watch the PBS Need to Know Episode “The Lost Boy of Sudan” – it’s about Salva himself.
  • Water for Sudan – Salva’s own organization that drills wells to provide water to people Southern Sudan.

Here are some more books about people like Salva who decide to DO something:
Wengari's Trees of Peace Three Cups of Tea Do Something Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together
Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand A Gift from Childhood Making Change The Doggy Dung Disaster
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