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Words From Kids Seeking Sanctuary

by Gwen Agna & Shelley Rotner ; photographed by Shelley Rotner

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2024
ISBN: 9780063304178
Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Young refugees open up.

Combining photographs with informational text and quotes from the children depicted, this book sheds light on the conditions under which kids migrate far from home, including “fleeing fires, floods, drought, or war.” The featured children are racially diverse, with a range of skin tones, hair textures, and styles of dress. In one photograph, an Asian-presenting child sits on a couch, mouth slightly open; a word bubble reads, “My parents told me we had to leave to be safe. I was scared.” Straightforward narration alternates between the tough realities of immigration (“Most people had to travel a long time—months, even years, moving from place to place before finally finding a new home”) and more uplifting messaging (“Let’s hope for a world where everyone is welcome”). The book is clearly aimed at non-refugees—backmatter includes suggestions on “how to help someone new” and asks readers to “imagine what it would feel like to move to a new country.” The photos are bright and eye-catching, though somewhat stiff and staged-looking. While those new to the topic will gain some insight, refugee children will likely feel that this work is about them—but not for them.

A window into the refugee experience—though not a mirror.

(authors’ notes, additional resources, glossary) (Informational picture book. 4-8)