The Journey by Francesca Sanna
As anyone who works closely with children can tell you- the best children’s books don’t patronize their audience. The very best of children’s literature tackles hard and dark topics with grace, compassion and a trust that children are able to understand more than they tend to get credit for. “The Journey” by Francesca Sanna tackles the life of a refugee from the point of view of a child, and does so at a level appropriate for very young children; I have read this book to preschoolers.
Following a mother and her two children leaving an unnamed war-torn country, Sanna does a superb job of showing a child’s understanding of what is happening- the children talk about not wanting to leave but their mother promising a great adventure; leaving behind everyone and everything they know in the hopes of somewhere safe; and hiding from officials who are hunting the refugees down- all with a mother determined to keep them safe and who never shows them fear- though I was particularly affected by a scene with the mother drawn silently crying at night so as to not wake her children.
In the current political climate, where refugees have become targeted by xenophobes and opportunistic politicians in many places, this book reminds us of the humanity of those that have been demonized. It is both timely and necessary. “The Journey” is a book that should be on the shelf of any socially conscious teacher or parent, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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