Memoirs of Refugees in Recognition of World Refugee Day

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
                           —“Home” by Warsan Shire

World Refugee Day is June 20. According to the United Nations every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. For anyone who is trying to comprehend what it feels like to be driven from your home, books written by or about refugees are a good first step toward understanding. Here are a few of their stories:

alongwaygoneA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah – Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone, and when he was twelve, his village was attacked by rebels. When he fled he was separated from his family. Beah wandered through the war-filled country before being picked up by the government army and forced to join an army unit.

 

thebestwecoulddoThe Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui – This graphic novel memoir documents the story of Thi Bui’s family’s escape from South Vietnam in the 1970s. Bui describes the difficulties her family faced as refugees and the hardships they overcame as they built a new life for their family.

 

thegirlwhoescapedisisThe Girl Who Escaped ISIS by Farida Khalaf – Farida Khalaf was 19 years old and living a normal, sheltered life in northern Iraq during the summer of 2014 when her village was attacked by ISIS. All of the men in her town were killed and the women were taken into slavery. Khalaf was sold into the homes of ISIS soldiers and is then brought to an ISIS training camp. She plots a dangerous escape for her and five other girls. This is her harrowing account.

 

hopemorepowerfulA Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming – This book chronicles the life of Doaa, a Syrian girl whose life was dramatically altered in 2011 by the onset of her country’s brutal civil war. Doaa and her fiance, Bassem, decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but just days after setting sail on a smuggler’s rickety fishing vessel along with more than five hundred other refugees, their boat is attacked and begins to sink. This is when Doaa’s struggle for survival really begins.

Books for Children

The Journey by Francesca Sanna – This picture book depicts the decisions made as a family leaves their home and everything they know in order to escape the tragedy brought by war. Best for ages 6 and up.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed – Relief workers bring used clothing to a refugee camp in Pakistan, and people grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is excited when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one. Best for ages 7 and up.

Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes – When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they carry their beloved cat with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away in this true story. But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs away. The family is devastated, but must continue their journey. However, the cat is found and a worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and reunite them. Best for ages 4 and up.

Sing your way to early literacy

By Camille Thompson and Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen

This month, we’re celebrating early literacy with our Winter Reading activities for children birth-age 5.  Early literacy skills are the building blocks children acquire before they learn to read and write which help them on their journey towards literacy.  One of the ways caregivers can help children develop early literacy skills is through singing.  Singing, reciting nursery rhymes, and reading books with rhyming phrases helps children hear the smaller sounds in words, which will help them sound out words when they learn to read.  You don’t need to be a virtuoso to sing with your child– whether you can carry a tune or not, you and your child will reap the benefits of singing for early literacy, all while having fun together!  Try out more fun activities from our Winter Reading Activity Sheet, and once you’ve completed it, turn it in to any JMRL location for a free book.

These books are wonderful for rhyming and singing with your child:

Every Little Thing by Cedella Marley: An exuberant picture book adaptation of Bob Marley’s song that illustrates the reassuring story of a bouncing, dreadlocked boy who won’t let anything get him down.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Jerry Pinkney: A lavish rendition of the classic song following the adventures of a curious chipmunk who embarks on an imaginary voyage to the stars.

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton: Adorably silly farm animals dance and prance across board book pages in a frolicking read-aloud with foot-stomping rhythms and rhymes.

Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown: A collection of charming lullabies by the celebrated  author of Goodnight Moon, illustrated by 12 award winning artists.

Baa Baa Black Sheep by Jane Cabrera: Black sheep graciously offers bag after bag of wool to Miss, who hand-knits mittens, a tea cozy, and other fuzzy gifts for her friends. Includes music for piano and guitar.

Inch by Inch by David Mallett: Inch by inch and row by row, a boy and his dog help their garden grow in this playfully illustrated version of the classic song.

Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort: What will the people on the bus do when raucous animals hop on board and add their voices to the din? This beastly twist on a favorite song will have young readers errping and roaring and honking along.

I Went Walking by Sue Williams: A melodious guessing-game concept book in which a shock-headed child goes for a walk and collects a procession of surprisingly colorful animals.

Snuggle Up for Early Literacy

snuggle

Most people underestimate how early a child’s language development begins. Interactions with a child begin to impact language skills beginning not at 6 months, not at 3 months, but from the day the baby is born. That doesn’t mean you should try to recreate preschool in your home. Helping your child be ready to learn to read is as simple as Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing!

JMRL’s Winter Reading Program is designed to help you do just that. Pick up a Winter Reading Activity Sheet at any JMRL location, or download it here: Activity Sheet. As you complete the fun activities, let your child color in the bunnies. When all 11 are complete, bring the sheet back to the library and your child can choose a free book. So brush off your memories of nursery rhymes and head to the library for some fun books to share. The program runs from February 1 to March 2 for ages birth to 5 years old.

For more early literacy activity ideas, check out the Family Literacy Calendar at DayByDayVA. Also, coming soon to JMRL – 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

build-a-reader