Syrian Stories: Books for Children and Teens

These books highlight the experiences of Syrian children, with a particular focus on refugees from Syria's civil war and the more general refugee experience. You can also learn more about Syria's folklore and cultural traditions, however, in Muna Imady's collection of Syrian folktales, which she gathered from around the country.

Escape from Aleppo

Girl watching a city on fire
Age Level: Middle Grade

It is December 17, 2010: Nadia’s twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia’s home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl’s journey to safety.

Escape from Syria

Illustrated by: Jackie Roche
Age Level: Young Adult

"Amina is one of millions of people affected by the ongoing Syrian conflict. Following a vicious attack in their home neighborhood, the teen and her family struggle to find normalcy amid the political chaos. They join the ranks of refugees fleeing for survival, traveling through Syria, Lebanon, and ultimately Canada.

My Beautiful Birds

Age Level: 6-9

"Sami is a Syrian boy whose family are forced to leave all they hold dear as they flee their home for the safety of a refugee camp. While 'days blur together in a gritty haze' at the camp and uncertainty about their future looms, Sami worries about the fate of the pet pigeons he left behind. These concerns overshadow anything good to come from the camp, from the garden his father grows to the flat bread his mother cooks to the painting Sami makes at the new camp school.

Nowhere Boy

Age Level: Middle Grade

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope. Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington. D.C. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.

Other Words for Home

Age Level: Middle Grade
Language: English

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven't quite prepared her for starting school in the US — and her new label of "Middle Eastern," an identity she's never known before.


Age Level: Middle Grade

Josef is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

Syrian Folktales

Age Level: Middle Grade

This collection of folktales gathered by Syrian-American teacher Muna Imady, who grew up in Damascus, pull together stories and recipes from various regions of Syria. In the introduction, she writes, "Every governorate in Syria has its own folklore traditions passed down from generation to generation. These include stories, sayings, riddles, recipes for tasty local dishes and embroidery patterns and the cut of traditional dresses. I feel it is important to record these tales, traditions, peddlers’ chants and recipes before they are completely forgotten."

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Illustration of a boy wearing a red backpack.
Age Level: Middle Grade

There used to be an empty chair at the back of Mrs. Khan's classroom, but on the third Tuesday of the school year a new kid fills it: nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee.

The whole class is curious about this new boy--he doesn't seem to smile, and he doesn't talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates bands together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World--a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.

The Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen's Escape from War to Freedom

Prize-winning journalist and the co-author of smash New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, Christina Lamb, now tells the inspiring true story of another remarkable young hero: Nujeen Mustafa, a teenager born with cerebral palsy, whose harrowing journey from war-ravaged Syria to Germany in a wheelchair is a breathtaking tale of fortitude, grit, and hope that lends a face to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time, the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Journey

Age Level: 3-6

The Journey recounts a refugee boy's story as he travels from his war-torn country to a new home. Sanna writes that the book began when she met two young girls at an Italian refugee center, then "began collecting more stories of migration and interviewing many people from many different countries." The striking result, in a setting that is not specified, is a simple yet powerful illustration of the anxiety, exhaustion, and heartbreak a family faces when displaced by war and conflict, as well as the courage and hope of their journey. 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winner.

The Land of Permanent Goodbyes

The Land of Permanent Goodbyes
Age Level: Young Adult

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family...until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future. An award-winning author and journalist — and a refugee herself — Atia Abawi captures the hope that spurs people forward against all odds and the love that makes that hope grow. (Note: Some graphic scenes of wartime violence are included.)

The Treasure Box

Illustrated by: Freya Blackwood
Age Level: 6-9

"'When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned.' This is how Wild begins her rather dark tale of salvaging one important thing when everything else is broken or destroyed. A young boy's father had borrowed a book from that soon-to-be-burned library, and when the 'enemy' (never identified or hinted at) forces the people to leave their homes, the father chooses to take the book, sequestering it in an iron box. He tells the boy that the book is 'about our people, about us.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees

By: Don Brown
Age Level: Middle Grade

In the tradition of Don Brown's critically acclaimed, full-color nonfiction graphic novels, The Unwanted is an important, timely, and eye-opening exploration of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, exposing the harsh realities of living in, and trying to escape, a war zone. Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighboring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims.

Where Will I Live

Age Level: 6-9

This stunning photo essay takes a look at the thousands of children around the world who have been forced to flee war, terror, hunger and natural disasters, young refugees on the move with very little left except questions. It's hard to imagine, but the images here will help unaffected children understand not only what this must feel like, but also how very lucky they are. The final message is that children, even with uncertain futures, are resilient and can face uncertainty with optimism. With images from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Yara, My Friend From Syria

Illustrated by: Anahit Aleksanyan
Age Level: 6-9

It is a regular Monday morning in Oliver's classroom, until there is a knock on the door. The principal brings in a new student. Her name is Yara, and she is from Syria. Little by little Oliver and his classmates get to know Yara, and although she is shy, they soon learn that she can speak three languages. This story highlights the important role that a child's peers play in the process of assimilating a new experience and home.