MTYT: Leaving My Homeland: A Refugee’s Journey from Syria

This week we discuss Leaving My Homeland, a part of a series of informational books. The nature of this book helps children understand the refugee experience with facts about Syria that led to the civil war and its citizens finding ways to escape.

Leaving My Homeland

Jessica: Leaving My Homeland increases comprehension and engages young readers in the content. Real-life pictures with text boxes feature United Nations Rights of the Child and Syria’s Story in Numbers. This information helps children in the U.S. connect to current issues in other countries. The author integrates age-appropriate pictures and illustrations, which add action to the pages.

The author has an organized style, though the title makes it seem that this book is about one refugee’s story. To increase comprehension of Roj’s story, Mason describes issues around his experience. For example, one section is about the paths that refugees take out of Syria, and the next is about the path Roj and his family take to Europe. The informational facts and Roj’s personal journey are a wonderful combination for any author to use to educate children on topics that may be difficult to relate to.

The educational value of this book is high, especially in classrooms. There is rich vocabulary throughout the book in the delivery of information and bolded words. The explanations of content-specific vocabulary in this book provide the opportunity to discuss words that can be difficult to explain in the classroom setting.

Discussion prompts, websites and reading suggestions are available to assist teachers and students. With our tumultuous political climate and varying news sources, it can be hard for students to understand what happens in the lives of refugees. If teachers, students and parents read this book, understanding and empathy towards the refugee experience will sky-rocket.

Janelle: An informational book is a step away from the rich stories that we have responded to this month, but it’s important to contextualize these stories in information about refugees. Informational books can share refugee stories, but readers should first engage in stories they can enter and experience and leave with questions. Leaving My Homeland answers these questions and integrates general insights on refugees with an issue that is ongoing in the media.

This book appears simple, yet holds information that many adults are not aware of. Recent facts are in appropriate places. Examples include what it means to be a refugee and the challenges therein, the number of Syrian refugees, the geography that determines their journey, information about the United Nations Rights of the Child and other facts about journeys and destinations.

The photos make these facts real for the reader, and are sensitive to children but relate to the struggle and emotions of those fleeing and the story of Roj. The author uses facts and personal story so the reader sees the information through the boy who takes the reader on this journey. The information is relevant and the reader can explore answers to questions through current news.

We share books that have potential to support children’s understanding of the refugee experience. They bring attention to the strength of people that face challenges with determination. While our responses focus on potential for these titles, within each response we find different ways the books speak to readers. These support their strength for classroom use. We hope insights similar to those in these books support the creation of a respectful welcoming for these newcomers as they enter our communities and schools, seek friendships and become part of the fabric of our country.

Title: Leaving My Homeland: A Refugee’s Journey from Syria
Author: Helen Mason
Publisher: Crabtree Publishing
ISBN: 9780778731849
Date Published: February 15 2017

This is the final installment of November 2017’s My Take/Your Take. To follow these continuing conversations, check back every Wednesday.

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