Blog | Exploring the refugee crisis with books and films


New Refugee Pic

Here are six great support materials to help you explore the refugee situation with your section.

The recently released Refugee Response resource (read more about it on page 37) created by The Scout Association in partnership with The British Red Cross, Oxfam, Cafod, Refugee Week and Refugee Action, is an excellent tool to help you explore the topic of refugees with young people. Rather than launching straight into the subject, it could be useful to introduce them to it with some newspaper clippings, photographs, books or films.

It could also be helpful to bring in a map of the world so you can point out where exactly refugees are coming from, how far they have to travel and what methods of transport they need to take in order to arrive at their destination, as well as the risks many of them undertake to get there.

Below, we’ve gathered six great supporting books and films to help you introduce this issue to your young people. 

Download the full resource.


Reading excerpts of these books to your section – and encouraging further reading away from Scouting – can provide a great introduction to the refugee experience.

My Beautiful Birds
Suzanne Del Rizzo
Suitable for Beavers and Cubs


If you’ve been wondering how to explore the refugee crisis with younger sections, take a look at this uplifting book. Del Rizzo’s artwork is playful, and the story is full of hope. Sami, a Syrian boy, sits on the roof of his house, lovingly looking after his pigeons. But soon his family is walking away from their home, forced to flee to a refugee camp.

Alan Gratz
Suitable for Cubs and Scouts

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This powerful, action-packed novel tells the story of three children in different parts of the world at different points in history, seeking refuge. Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany, Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994 and Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. All three face unimaginable dangers as they flee their homes, in a novel about courage, survival, and the search for home.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
Atia Abawi
Suitable for Explorers


This young-adult novel is perfect for Explorers who would like to get a better sense of what it’s like to be a refugee. It’s a gripping story of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria, told by a foreign news correspondent who has experienced the crisis first-hand.

Films and animations

There are many films and animations online that can help you to explore the refugee crisis with your young people. Here are a few that we recommend:

BBC Learning – Seeking Refuge series: Ali’s Story
Suitable for Beavers (use your discretion), Cubs and Scouts

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A touching film in which 10-year-old Ali, who escaped the war in Afghanistan, describes the pain of being separated from his parents and the difficulties he faced adjusting to life in the UK. This film might be upsetting for more sensitive young people, particularly those of Beaver age. 

A Life on Hold: The Story of a Teenage Refugee
Suitable for Explorers

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This film tells the story of everyday life for Omar, a 17-year-old Somali living in a refugee camp on the Tunisian border. Refugees in the camp live in limbo, unable to move on or return to their homes. They live in hope of resettlement and a new life in Europe. 

Rain is Beautiful
Suitable for Explorers

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This film documents the second part of Omar’s journey. He’s about to leave the Choucha refugee camp at the Tunisian border and fly to a brand-new life in Sweden. The film shows his arrival at the airport and the first steps of his resettlement in a new country, including getting his ‘right to remain’ signed and experiencing margarine for the first time. 

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