Syrian Stories: Books for Children and Teens

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.

Escape from Aleppo

Age Level: 9-12

It is December 17, 2010: Nadia’s twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia’s home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl’s journey to safety.

Escape from Syria

Illustrated by: Jackie Roche
Age Level: 14-16

"Amina is one of millions of people affected by the ongoing Syrian conflict. Following a vicious attack in their home neighborhood, the teen and her family struggle to find normalcy amid the political chaos. They join the ranks of refugees fleeing for survival, traveling through Syria, Lebanon, and ultimately Canada.

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.

Refugee

Age Level: 9-12

Josef is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

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 Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen's Escape from War to Freedom

Age Level: 14-16

Prize-winning journalist and the co-author of smash New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb, now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.

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 Land of Permanent Goodbyes

Age Level: 14-16

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family...until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future. An award-winning author and journalist — and a refugee herself — Atia Abawi captures the hope that spurs people forward against all odds and the love that makes that hope grow. (Note: Some graphic scenes of wartime violence are included.)

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.