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Refugee Week’s Simple Acts campaign recommends reading a book about exile to help you understand what it might be like to have to flee your home. Here are some books about the refugee experience available at your local library. Pick one, read it alone, with friends or at a book club. Journey through its pages and, if you like where it takes you, pass it on or recommend to a friend. You could even write a book review.

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Edited by Tiffy Allen

‘A Hundred Thousand Welcomes’  is the story of City of Sanctuary from its beginnings in 2005 to 2018, told through a tapestry of personal stories about welcoming refugees. The stories come from all over the City of Sanctuary network, which now involves over 120 local groups across UK and Ireland, and are told by refugees and their friends. The stories take us into the lives of ordinary people in cities and countryside, schools and universities, churches and mosques, trades unions, libraries, sports clubs, theatres and much more, and shine a spotlight on ways that refugees have found a home and a welcome in these places. City of Sanctuary groups share a vision to promote, network and resource activities in all spheres of society that focus on welcoming and including refugees who have come to these islands to seek safety. In publishing this book, we hope to provide inspiration and understanding to people involved in the sanctuary movement and help those who are not involved to get a better understanding of refugees and the amazing contributions they bring.

Refugee boy

By Benjamin Zephaniah

A victim of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Alem finds himself alone in England, abandoned by his parents. This story charts his fate as he is moved from children's home to foster home, and in and out of court hearings

Available at Boscombe Library. Available at Poole Library

Welcome to the New World

By Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan

Two brothers, Jamil and Ammar, fled Syria in 2012, with their wives and children. After four years waiting in Jordan, they finally received a visa and traveled to the United States as refugees. They arrived on Nov. 8, 2016, which happened to be Election Day. It was, of course, a loaded moment.

Available here

The Lightless Sky

By Gulwali Passarlay

A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy’s traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.

Available at Bournemouth Library

Over Under Sideways Down

By Karrie Fransman

Ebrahim is a teenage refugee. He did not choose to leave Iran, he did not choose to bid farewell to his mother for the last time and he certainly did not choose to take the long journey to be granted asylum in the UK. This is his story.

Available here


By Michael Morpurgo

When Shadow, a bomb-sniffing spaniel, goes missing in the middle of wartorn Afghanistan, his soldier-owner is devastated. Meanwhile, Shadow makes friends with a local Afghan boy, and sees a whole other side of the war.

Available at Southbourne and Winton Libraries

The Other Side of Truth

By Beverley Naidoo

12-year-old Sade and her brother Femi have to flee Nigeria when their mother is killed and their father criticises the military rulers. The woman who brings them to London abandons them and they are alone in a new, often hostile, environment.

Available at Castlepoint, Southbourne and Tuckton Libraries

My name is not Refugee

By Kate Milner

A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too. This powerful and moving story draws young readers into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make

Available at Bournemouth Library

Dreams of a refugee

By Mostafa Salameh

Mostafa Salameh's extraordinary journey began with his birth to Palestinian refugee parents in Kuwait in 1970. One night Mostafa dreamt that he was standing atop Mount Everest reciting the call to prayer. With no prior experience or training, he decided he would follow his vision and climb. He failed to summit Everest twice before reaching the summit in 2008 - he went on to become the first Jordanian Palestinian ever to reach the North Pole. Yet exploring is only half the story

Available at Bournemouth Library

The displaced: refugee writers on refugee lives

Edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen

An anthology of personal essays on the refugee experience from 20 leading refugee writers, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the critically-acclaimed, bestselling author of 'The Sympathizer'

Available at Westbourne Library

Oranges in no man's land

By Elizabeth Laird

A gripping story of a ten-year-old girl who risks death to make a lifesaving dash through war-torn Beirut

Available at Boscombe and Bournemouth Libraries

Refugee tales

Edited by David Herd

This is a unique collection of tales told by leading novelists and poets in collaboration with refugees, former immigration detainees and those who work with them. Based on close conversations with the people behind the stories (whose anonymity is preserved for reasons of security), and modelled on the format of 'The Canterbury Tales' provides a compelling, shocking and truthful account of what it means to seek asylum in the UK

Available at Boscombe Library

Cast away: stories of survival from Europe's refugee crisis

By Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

An exploration of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, told through the stories of those who have made the perilous journey and lived to speak of their experience

Available at Charminster Library

City of thorns: nine lives in the world's largest refugee camp

By Ben Rawlence

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education

Available at Springbourne Library

We are displaced: my journey and stories from refugee girls around the world

By Malala Yousafzai

Starting with her own story of displacement as an Internally Displaced Person, Malala will introduce readers to what it means to lose your home, your community, and the only world you've ever known. She will share the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her various journeys to refugee camps and the cities where refugee girls and their families have settled. The anecdotes will focus on different parts of each girl's story - from what it was like the day she left her home to what daily life is like in a refugee camp

Available at Bournemouth and Charminster Libraries

The refugees

By Viet Thanh Nguyen

From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration

Available at Westbourne Library

The bone sparrow

By Zana Fraillon

Subhi is a refugee. Born in a detention centre, all he knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, that the nice jackets never stay long, and at night the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. Bringing him Jimmie. Jimmie lives on the Outside. 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 - she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi across 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

Available at Charminster Library

A story like the wind

By Gill Lewis

In a small boat spinning out on the sea sits a group of refugees, fleeing their war-stricken homes. They have nothing - except their memories, their stories, and their music. In this very special, lyrical fable, beautifully illustrated by Jo Weaver, Gill Lewis weaves an unforgettable tale of displacement, hope, and the search for freedom

Available at Bournemouth, Castlepoint, Charminster and Kinson Libraries

Give me shelter: stories about children who seek asylum

By Tony Bradman

This collection of short stories shows us people who have been forced to leave their homes or families to seek help and shelter elsewhere. Some are about young people travelling to other countries, others are concerned with children left behind when parents are forced to flee

Available at Winton Library

Jackdaw Summer

By David Almond

Every summer Liam and Max roam the wild countryside, but this year things are different. One hot summer's day a jackdaw leads the two boys into an ancient farm house where they find a baby, wrapped in a blanket, with a scribbled note pinned to it

Available at Bournemouth Library

The Journey

By Francesca Sanna

With haunting echoes of current affairs, this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war

Available at Kinson Library