World Refugee Day - Story Snug

June 20th: World Refugee Day

20th June is World Refugee Day, a day celebrated internationally to honour people who have been forced to flee their home countries. A lot of the awareness that we have gained about refugees’ experiences and situations has come from reading and has led to conversations and more understanding about the difficulties that refugees face.

Saving The Butterfly by Helen Cooper & Gill Smith

Saving the Butterfly gives readers a poignant insight into the experiences and emotional trauma suffered by child refugees. It pulls at the heartstrings as it tells the story of a brother and sister coming to terms with their new life. But a brightly coloured butterfly brings hope and symbolises a new beginning…

This is a wonderfully empathetic book to introduce children to the situation that young refugees face. It can stimulate discussions about why families may need to leave their homes, how family members can become separated from one another and the ways in which we can show kindness and offer support.


The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon

The Journey Home takes a poignant look at the experiences and emotions of endangered animals who travel far from home when their habitats and lives are put in danger by the actions of humans. It mirrors the current situation in Ukraine and the uncertainty and emotions of refugees who have no idea when they will be able to return home.

There is huge potential for learning from this beautifully illustrated story. As well as stimulating conversations about refugees and their uncertainties about their futures, it can also be used to raise awareness of environmental issues and animal conservation.


No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

This moving middle grade novel gave us a fascinating insight into the experiences, challenges and difficulties faced by families who have been forced to flee from their home countries and resettle in new and unfamiliar lands.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria - Story Snug

Eleven year old Aya has fled war torn Syria with her mother and baby brother. Her story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Her mother is traumatised by her experiences and much of the responsibility for the family falls on Aya who seeks solace in dancing and a new friendship.  We also learn about Aya’s life in Syria before and during the war. The difficulties that the family faces, their struggles in a new country and the uncertainties surrounding Aya’s father’s disappearance gave us a fascinating insight into the difficulties that many refugees may face.


Books like these can give children an insight into refugees’ experiences, help them to develop understanding and empathy and even encourage them to think about ways that they may be able to help.

Thank you to Walker Books for sending a copy of Saving the Butterfly, Pavilion Books for sending a copy of The Journey Home and Clare Hall-Craggs and Nosy Crow for sending a copy of No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Related posts

Enjoyed this? Share or comment.

Leave a Reply

8 responses to “June 20th: World Refugee Day”

  1. RaisieBay avatar

    It’s such a challenge and people tend to forget about the children. This is a wonderful way of teaching our children through stories of how difficult it is and hopefully encourage more empathy in them than our current generation.

    1. Catherine avatar

      I hope that stories like these can help us raise a more empathetic generation too. It’s heartbreaking to read about the struggles that some people go through.

  2. Avni avatar

    Books like these surely spread knowledge about refugees’ struggle

    1. Catherine Friess avatar

      They all do it in such a gentle sensitive way that a young reader can understand.

  3. Amila avatar

    Migrating to another country and starting life, adjusting to new culture is always a challenge and we experienced it. But, moving to another country as a refugee is too hard and life can be too hard. These books sound great specially for kids to learn on this process and how hard for a refugee to join the new community. Thanks for sharing these titles. I will check in the library…

    1. Catherine avatar

      It’s a real challenge moving to another country and becoming integrated. I can’t imagine how much harder it is when you don’t have a choice, a safe place to live or a job. No Ballet Shoes in Syria was a real eye opener for us and raised our awareness of the range of emotions that refugees and asylum seekers have to deal with along with all the practicalities of being in a country where they don’t speak the language either.

  4. Carol avatar

    I love the idea of Saving the Butterfly. As a matter of fact, there is a garden in South Florida called Butterfly World. It is a magical place with butterflies everywhere. #MMBC

    1. Catherine avatar

      Butterflies fascinate me. They’re a wonderful motif in the story 🙂