Syrian Stories: Books for Children

These books highlight the experiences of Syrian children, with a particular focus on refugees from Syria's civil war and the more general refugee experience. You can also learn more about Syria's folklore and cultural traditions, however, in Muna Imady's collection of Syrian folktales, which she gathered from around the country.

My Beautiful Birds

Age Level: 6-9

"Sami is a Syrian boy whose family are forced to leave all they hold dear as they flee their home for the safety of a refugee camp. While 'days blur together in a gritty haze' at the camp and uncertainty about their future looms, Sami worries about the fate of the pet pigeons he left behind. These concerns overshadow anything good to come from the camp, from the garden his father grows to the flat bread his mother cooks to the painting Sami makes at the new camp school.

Syrian Folktales

Age Level: 9-12

This collection of folktales gathered by Syrian-American teacher Muna Imady, who grew up in Damascus, pull together stories and recipes from various regions of Syria. In the introduction, she writes, "Every governorate in Syria has its own folklore traditions passed down from generation to generation. These include stories, sayings, riddles, recipes for tasty local dishes and embroidery patterns and the cut of traditional dresses. I feel it is important to record these tales, traditions, peddlers’ chants and recipes before they are completely forgotten."

The Journey

Age Level: 3-6

The Journey recounts a refugee boy's story as he travels from his war-torn country to a new home. Sanna writes that the book began when she met two young girls at an Italian refugee center, then "began collecting more stories of migration and interviewing many people from many different countries." The striking result, in a setting that is not specified, is a simple yet powerful illustration of the anxiety, exhaustion, and heartbreak a family faces when displaced by war and conflict, as well as the courage and hope of their journey. 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winner.

The Treasure Box

Illustrated by: Freya Blackwood
Age Level: 6-9

"'When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned.' This is how Wild begins her rather dark tale of salvaging one important thing when everything else is broken or destroyed. A young boy's father had borrowed a book from that soon-to-be-burned library, and when the 'enemy' (never identified or hinted at) forces the people to leave their homes, the father chooses to take the book, sequestering it in an iron box. He tells the boy that the book is 'about our people, about us.

Where Will I Live

Age Level: 6-9

This stunning photo essay takes a look at the thousands of children around the world who have been forced to flee war, terror, hunger and natural disasters, young refugees on the move with very little left except questions. It's hard to imagine, but the images here will help unaffected children understand not only what this must feel like, but also how very lucky they are. The final message is that children, even with uncertain futures, are resilient and can face uncertainty with optimism. With images from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Yara, My Friend From Syria

Illustrated by: Anahit Aleksanyan
Age Level: 6-9

It is a regular Monday morning in Oliver's classroom, until there is a knock on the door. The principal brings in a new student. Her name is Yara, and she is from Syria. Little by little Oliver and his classmates get to know Yara, and although she is shy, they soon learn that she can speak three languages. This story highlights the important role that a child's peers play in the process of assimilating a new experience and home.