I have been fortunate enough to hear the children's author, Grace Lin speak in person. Her thoughts on books needing to provide both windows and mirrors is something that resonated with me, alongside writers and readers from all over the world. Yesterday was World Refugee Day 2017. I recently read The Journey with my children and the conversation that followed reminded me of everything Lin had to say. In reading this book, the children looked through the pages, through the rich, layered illustrations - beyond all they know and into a world they don't. They saw complexity, loss, beauty, courage and desperate hardship. And they were able to plant a tiny seed of understanding, to catch a glimpse of the way other children see themselves, of what other children have had to endure and continue to struggle with every day. Empathy is nourished through story. Books connect.
The Journey is written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna.
Visit the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for more on World Refugee Day.
Here is an article in the New York Times by Deborah Ellis talking about the role of picture books in helping to explain the refugee crisis to children, including The Journey by Francesca Sanna. It's a year old but still relevant.