June 2023 Refugee Week in Fiction

Refugee Week
19-25 June 2023
Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.

Refugee Week Free Resources
In June 2023, I am offering these FREE resources for Refugee Week, with links to PHSE / Literacy / History, available now from here.

“Boat People” with the National Literacy Trust includes :

  • 5 very short stories about people who have had to escape danger by boat, set in the years 1914, 1943, 1975, 2010 and today

Available in print to read aloud from here called “RW23 stories” https://literacytrust.org.uk/resources/refugee-week/

Or to watch being read aloud by me from here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmmlG7jutI-1sTB2jvWewnZQBc-eQlddq

  • an introductory assembly (15 minutes long) from me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzUXr-o3g9M
  • 5 writing exercises delivered by video, relating to the stories and the theme of refugees, with worksheets for the children
  • a teachers’ guide
  • a live virtual Q&A event for the classroom, the chance to chat to me about my stories and how I write, 22 June at 2 p.m.

Combined powerpoint very kindly shared by Penketh High  of all the writing exercises for lesson time here.  

Certificate for your school or classroom or for individual work
Download here






“Boat Peop

Refugee Week Virtual Events

  • 21 June at 4.30 p.m – “Empowerment through compassion” – A virtual CPD event for teachers with Tom and Helen McCord from UCL for schools   More information and book now here 

This live CPD event for teachers and others on 21st June at 4 p.m. from Windermere will be hosted by UCL Holocaust Education and the Lake District Holocaust Project and will explore the story of 300 children, Holocaust survivors who came to live in Cumbria in 1945, direct from the concentration camps of Europe.  More information and book now here https://holocausteducation.org.uk/courses/2023/06/empowerment-through-compassion/ 



If you would like a reminder of when these resources will be available please use the contact form below.  Please be patient.  Our replies are not automated so you will get a personal reply. See T&Cs. 


Tom on “Why I featured refugee child characters in recent books…”

“Several of my latest published books have featured child refugees who have made it to the UK to be taken in by families and communities.

I did this because I have visited many schools and communities that have children who are refugees from Syria (and other troubled places in the world) and met them and heard their stories.

That – and reading books and articles about the war – motivated me to develop Yusra, Galip and Aylan as characters in my children’s books.

I did it, also, because I want children who are in all schools to be able to read about how we – in our relatively safe and stable country – can help people whose lives have been smashed to pieces and how we need to remember this country has a history of taking in and accepting refugees.

Here are a selection of my relevant books …

After the War (Barrington Stoke) is the story of 300 children, Holocaust survivors who came to live in Cumbria in 1945, direct from the concentration camps of Europe. It is based on survivor testimonies.


D-Day Dog (Barrington Stoke)  I wanted to think about how today’s refugees are part of our history, part of our future and that is why it is so good to welcome them to the UK.



Gus the Fantastic Football Cat (Egmont, KS1) is about a Syrian girl and her dad who look after a rescue cat when they arrive in the UK from Syria. The parallel of the girl taken in by a UK community and her, in turn, taking a rescue cat in is the only thing about the story that relates to her background. The rest of the story is hopefully a lot lighter, as the cat reveals it can predict World Cup football results.

Pitch Invasion (Barrington Stoke) is a bit more direct. The story is about a haunted hillfort in Cornwall and a ghostbusting duo – Seth and Nadiya – who realise there is a parallel between the ghost of Iron Age refugees escaping the brutal Romans by heading west and two Syrian boys – Galip and Aylan – who have recently been taken in by a Cornish family, after tragedy in Syria. The refugees I describe could well have been some of your Iron Age ancestors, people who might have been part of Boudica’s Iceni tribe after she was killed fighting them. I wanted to think about how there are refugees now just as there always have been. People have always had to flee. Then and now.”

More resources :

Watch Now “NLT Refugee Week virtual event: In Conversation with Tom Palmer”  recorded from 20 June 2022 here

Certificate to share with your pupils here.

All the other Refugee Week resources with the National Literacy Trust are all now available from here .. https://literacytrust.org.uk/resources/refugee-week-2022/

“The Girl in the Lewandowski Top” – is a FREE 5 part story about a Ukrainian Refugee in 2022 with teacher guide and worksheets. This was written for Refugee Week 2022 for the National Literacy Trust but can be used all year round.

      • Read “The Girl in the Lewandowski Tophere
      • Teacher Guide here
      • Worksheets here

Them” – is a FREE 5 part read aloud story set in 1945, from the point of view of the children in the Lake District community who received 300 child refugees from the Nazi concentration camps after the end of the Second World War.  This was written for Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 for the National Literacy Trust but can be used all year round.

      • Read “Them” here
      • A powerpoint introducing “Them” here
      • 5 short films and worksheets to support “Them” story and inspire pupils to write their own responses here
      • A teacher guide with ideas and sources to support your delivery of “Them” and children’s writing here
      • 5 short films of Tom reading out loud “Them” available from here

“The Question” is a FREE 5 part read aloud story set today, from the point of view of pupils meeting a Holocaust survivor at their school and asking them about their refugee experience.  This was written for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 for the National Literacy Trust but can be used all year round.

      •  Read “The Question” here for you to read aloud / stream / share or as a series of 5 films of Tom reading the story for you to use however suits your school here ).

You can also find out more about the Windermere children’s story in my children’s book “After the War from Auschwitz to Ambleside” here.

More resources from Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 here.

More resources from Holocaust Memorial Day 2022 here.

Thank you

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Thank you.

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