5 Resources on Refugees for Elementary Grades

For our students, the topic of refugees may be fraught with misunderstanding, emotion, or even unawareness. Between misinformation in the media and its inherently violent/disturbing nature, teachers sometimes hesitate to breach the subject with younger students in particular.

But of course, these are the very reasons to do so; how can we expect students to grow to become empathetic and active global citizens if they are shielded from some of the world’s most pressing issues?

That said, we should take care to curate the resources we share to keep them as age-appropriate and objective as possible. Below are 5 resources to help prompt discussion and awareness about refugees among our young learners.

Share “BBC Learning: “Seeking Refuge” Series–Ali’s Story”

A story told in the words of a 10 year old refugee.

Share news snapshots

When you come across photojournalism that is age appropriate, seize the opportunity to share it with your students. For instance, this series of portraits of Syrian refugee children also includes their experiences in their words–perfect to open up the conversation and help students relate to these children across the globe.

Read “Malala, A Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery

While this story does not actually center on refugees, it does give insight for young students to comprehend the conditions that drive individuals from their homes.


Visit humanitarian Facebook groups, such as Lifting Hands International

In addition to highlighting ongoing action groups are taking to help refugees, these groups might also inspire students to consider possible steps they can take to be part of the solution.

Share educational videos that work to dispel myth from fact on the issue 

No one video is going to provide all the answers or approach all the nuances of the debates surrounding such a complex issue, but it can be a helpful place to start as students research and discuss these issues themselves.


Also check out: Video of picture book, “The Enemy, A Book about Peace.” Again, this does not center on refugees specifically, but it may serve to help students start thinking about how hate and stereotyping might perpetuate violence and misconceptions.

Photo Credit: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation

2 Replies to “5 Resources on Refugees for Elementary Grades”

  1. Thanks for this, Mary. You’ve shared some great resources which teachers should find very useful. I found them useful for me!
    Ali’s story is excellent for sharing with children, and the video of the refugee crisis is great as it explains the situation briefly and clearly. I haven’t seen the version of Malala’s story that you included here, but I am familiar with it. It is also great for sharing. I will have to check out Iqbal’s story too.
    A lovely picture book, not about refugees but about our shared humanity is “Whoever you are” by Mem Fox. I’m not sure if you are familiar with it.

    1. Thank you, Norah! I’m looking forward to checking out “Whoever you are”–never met a Mem Fox book I didn’t love. Iqbal’s story is actually included in the Malala book–it’s a dual story book, with his on one side and Malala’s on the other.

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