The Journey written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna is perhaps one of the most important books that I continue to read to my children. During this prolonged and unfolding refugee crisis I’ve watched and wondered, how can I make them understand what’s going on without scaring them or overwhelming them while they’re so small? How can I help them understand what people mean when they say words like migrant? Refugee? How can I make them relate, be compassionate?
The Journey is simply written and easy to understand and while the book is aimed at 3-7 year olds the illustrations alone make for great conversion in younger children. We join a family as war grips their homeland, as their mum makes the difficult decision to flee their home, as they travel at night under the cover of darkness. We see borders and oceans that seem impossible to cross. And we watch the mum’s tears fall as she shields her children in her arms and wraps them in her hair. This family is just like any other family in so many ways and that is exactly the point.
Carefully researched by Sanna through travel and time spent recording the experiences of refugees, it is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. This book is endorsed by Amnesty International and comes with a nine page discussion print out in order to engage children on a deeper level and to encourage them to think about each step on the families journey. This is a wonderful tool for older children and I look forward to the girls being old enough to participate in a more in depth discussion on something so very important.
While the story is filled with fear and sadness, and yes these can be strong emotions for children to have to deal with, there is an incredible sense of hope. Hope for safer lands, for boarders crossed and for human compassion. I can’t think of a better way to help children understand that when talk about refugees, migrants and asylum seekers we are talking about a mummy, a daddy, a boy or a girl just like you and your family.
Link to exploring The Journey: