The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city. Parvana's father—a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed—works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy and become the breadwinner.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.
(This book is based on the author's personal experiences.)
Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai
In the summer of 2001, twelve-year-old Fadi's parents make the difficult decision to illegally leave Afghanistan and move the family to the United States. When their underground transport arrives at the rendezvous point, chaos ensues, and Fadi is left dragging his younger sister Mariam through the crush of people. But Mariam accidentally lets go of his hand and becomes lost in the crowd just as Fadi is snatched up into the truck. With Taliban soldiers closing in, the truck speeds away, leaving Mariam behind.
Adjusting to life in the United States isn't easy for Fadi's family and as the events of September 11th unfold the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
(This book is based in part on Ms. Senzai's husband's own experience fleeing his home in Soviet controlled Afghanistan in the 1970s.)
Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams
Just down the road from their families, Deo and his friends play soccer in the dusty fields of Zimbabwe, cheered on by Deo's older brother, Innocent. It is a day like any other…until the soldiers arrive and Deo and Innocent are forced to run for their lives, fleeing the wreckage of their village for the distant promise of safe haven. Along the way, they face the prejudice and poverty that await refugees everywhere and must rely on the kindness of people they meet to make it through. But when tragedy strikes, Deo's love of soccer is all he has left. Can he use that gift to find hope once more?
A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk by Jan L. Coates
Drawing on the true story of one child who fled southern Sudan’s brutal civil war, this novel is told from the viewpoint of Jacob, a “Lost Boy,” who is just seven years old when he is forced to leave his home and family in 1987. After a perilous trek, he eventually finds refuge in United Nations camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, and, at age 12, he achieves his dream of going to school. This novel describes the brutal journey and the bliss, for some, of finding food, fresh water, and shelter, as well as the pressure the boys feel to join the army. Along the way, Jacob nurtures a younger kid, and his explanations to the child about the struggle “to find peace again” also put the events in context for readers. Teens will be moved by the unsparing survival story and the climax when Jacob learns to read.
Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson
Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors, and suddenly they are homeless refugees. Old and young alike, they find their courage tested by hunger, illness, the long, arduous journey, and danger on every side. Then, unexpectedly, they are brought to America by a church group and begin a new life in a small Vermont town. The events of 9/11 bring more challenges for this Muslim family--but this country is their home now and there can be no turning back.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
This book begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hour’s walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.