Refugee Stories from Africa

These stories and memoirs focus on the experiences of refugees on the African continent, particularly in Darfur.

Due to the violent nature of the conflicts described, we encourage you to review titles carefully before recommending them or using them in the classroom.

See our Refugee Experiences section for:

  • Titles from other regions
  • Titles for younger readers
  • Guidance for supporting refugee students

A Long Walk to Water

Age Level: 9-12

When rebel soldiers attack his village in Sudan, 11-year-old Salva flees the violence, beginning a dangerous walk toward a crowded refugee camp in Ethiopia, then on to new life in Rochester, New York. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Nya spends her days in Sudan looking for scarce supplies of fresh water for her family. Based on the true story of Sudanese "Lost Boys" who came to the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

Home of the Brave

Age Level: 9-12

This novel, written in free verse, tells the story of Kek, an eleven-year-old boy from the Sudan who arrives as a refugee to Minnesota in the middle of winter. In moments both amusing and heartbreaking, it is possible to see through Kek's eyes what it is like for new immigrants who come to this country and to think about the scars that war leaves on its youngest victims. Teacher's Guide available.

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference

Age Level: 16-18

"St. John, a New York Times reporter, brought Clarkston, GA, to national attention in 2007 with a series of articles about the changes in the small Southern town brought about by an influx of refugees from all over the world. This book comes out of those articles…The book is a sports story, a sociological study, a tale of global and local politics, and the story of a determined woman who became involved in the lives of her young charges." — School Library Journal (Young readers edition also available.)

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima Bashir received a good education away from her rural surroundings (thanks to her doting, politically astute father) and at twenty-four became her village's first formal doctor. Yet not even Bashir's degree could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her homeland. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur.(Note: Violent scenes may disturbing to readers.)

The Red Pencil

Illustrated by: Shane Evans
Age Level: 9-12

Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala — Amira's one true dream. But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng

Age Level: 16-18

As a young boy Valentino witnessed Arab militia men destroy his village, hid from hungry lions, wandered through wasted, desert landscapes, and narrowly escaped fatal disease, capture, starvation, and enlistment. The will to survive displayed here is almost as miraculous as this Sudanese "Lost Boy's" ability to recount the harrowing genocide of home and people with such thoughtfulness and grace.