Book List: 10 Books About Flooding, Refugees, and Displacement

Within the past couple of weeks, people have watched as Harvey and Irma, both powerful hurricanes that caused extensive damage, swept through Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida. Hurricane Jose is now being watched closely. Last Friday, one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit Mexico in a century caused hundreds of people to become displaced. More powerful natural disasters are likely to become the norm now, meaning that more people, both domestically and internationally, are likely to become displaced and unable to move back to their home. In this book list, we’ve rounded up 10 of our titles that are about different refugee experiences, whether they’ve been displaced by war, natural disasters, or the government.

a house by the river

A House by the River by William Miller, illus. by Ying-Hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright

As the worst storm in years approaches, Belinda wishes more than ever that she and her mother lived in town, where the houses are on high ground, safe from the rising river. If only her father were alive, Belinda thinks, then she’d feel safer. But what Belinda discovers through the long night of the storm is that her house is made of more than wood and brick—it is also fortified by her family’s love.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

calling the water drum

Calling the Water Drum by LaTisha Redding, illus. by Aaron Boyd

Henri and his parents leave their homeland, Haiti, after they receive an invitation from an uncle to come to New York City. Their small boat overturns, and Henri is placed on top of the boat as his parents drift further out at sea. Overcome with grief, Henri retreats into himself and is no longer able to speak once he reaches land. Encouraged by his uncle and neighbor, Henri takes a bucket and plays on it like a drum. Slowly, through his drumming and the kindness of his uncle and friend, Henri learns to navigate this new and foreign world without his parents.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

brothers in hope

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, by Mary Williams, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, this is a story of remarkable and enduring courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

passage to freedom

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, illus. by Dom Lee

As a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania in the 1940s, Chiune Sugihara had a chance to help thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust through Japan, but it was against his government’s orders. When his five-year-old son Hiroki asked, “If we don’t help them, won’t they die?” Sugihara decided to assist the refugees. Based on Hiroki Sugihara’s own words, this highlights Sugihara’s heroic story.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

dia's storycloth

Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey of Freedom by Dia, Chue, and Nhia Thao Cha

For centuries, needlework has been part of Hmong culture. But it has only been since the war in Vietnam and Laos, which displaced many Hmong, that the new, narrative form of ”story cloths” has emerged, a bridge between past and present. Dia Cha and her family experienced this displacement. Born in Laos, Dia fled with her family to Thailand as a child, spending four years in a refugee camp before arriving in the U.S. Her story is shared by many Hmong Americans.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

selvakumar knew better

Selvakumar Knew Better by Virginia Kroll, illus. by Xiaojun Li

This is the true story of a courageous and clever dog who saved a boy’s life during the devastating tsunami of 2004, and is sure to touch the hearts of readers of all ages.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

the three lucys

The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara, illus. by Sara Kahn

Luli likes to sit in the shade of an olive tree with his beloved cats: Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy. After a fun visit with family, Luli is looking forward to going home and seeing the Lucys. But then Luli’s hometown comes under attack and the family must seek refuge at his aunt and uncle’s house. Luli doesn’t understand what is happening and worries about his pets. Who will keep the three Lucys safe? And when will he and his family be able to return home?

Purchase a copy of the book here.

trail of the dead

Trail of the Dead: Killer of Enemies #2 by Joseph Bruchac

Lozen and her family are looking for a place of refuge from the despotic Ones who once held them captive and forced Lozen to hunt genetically engineered monsters. When they reach a valley, they discover an unpleasant surprise awaiting them—and a merciless hunter following close behind. Alongside family, new friends, and Hussein, the handsome young man whose life she saved, Lozen forges a path through a barren land where new recombinant monsters lurk and the secrets of this new world will reveal themselves to her . . . whether she wants them to or not.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

from north to south

From North to South/Del Norte al Sur by René Colato Laínez, illus. by Joe Cepeda

José loves helping Mamá in the garden outside their home in California. But when Mamá is sent back to Mexico for not having proper papers, José and his Papá face an uncertain future. What will it be like to visit Mamá in Tijuana? When will Mamá be able to come home?

Purchase a copy of the book here.

a song for cambodia

A Song for Cambodia by Michelle Lord, illus. by Shino Arihara

When Arn was a young boy in Cambodia, his days were filled with love, laughter, and the sweet sounds of music. That all changed suddenly in 1975 when Arn’s village was invaded by Khmer Rouge soldiers and his family was torn apart. Nine-year-old Arn was taken to a children’s work camp, where he labored long hours in the rice fields under the glaring eyes of threatening soldiers. Overworked, underfed, and in constant fear for his life, Arn had to find a way to survive. When guards asked for volunteers to play music one day, Arn bravely raised his hand—taking a chance that would change the course of his life.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

Further reading

Author LaTisha Redding on Immigration, Grief, and the Healing Power of Art

Check out our Refugee Children’s Book Collection

One thought on “Book List: 10 Books About Flooding, Refugees, and Displacement”

  1. Thanks for your posts and all the books and authors and illustrators you introduce me to. So worth the celebration of their words and pictures and the issues.

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