June was first declared as World Refugee Awareness Month in 2001 culminating in World Refugee Day June 20th. Since then, June has been a time to acknowledge strength, courage, perseverance and resilience of millions of past and present refugees who live around the globe, including here in Memphis! 

Refugees are men, women, children who have been forced to leave their home country due to war, conflict, credible fear of persecution (due to race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social group). Today more than 25.9 million people have refugee status, and another 41 million are internally displaced. 

But when invited to a final country for permanent resettlement, these neighbors are welcomed into community, provided vital services, and thrive when given the opportunity to embrace a life of peace, freedom, education, employment, and serving their communities. 

Do you wish to learn more about the current refugee crisis? Considering we can't host an event in person this year, this is a great opportunity to invite family and friends to watch the same film or read the same book remotely, then discuss over Zoom, Facetime, What's App, or more! Other things to do this week include: 

  • talk with a refugee friend
  • order take out from an immigrant-owned restaurant (like Global Cafe or Naguara Home Made Food!)
  • partner with us by giving or volunteering
  • learn a phrase in the language of your refugee friend
  • call or write state and national senators to advocate on behalf of refugees
  • share with someone why you welcome refugees!

Here are some reading/listening/watching recommendations - LOTS to choose from this week or this summer:

Reading List

Books on the Refugee/Immigrant Experience

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming               

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Brothers of the Gun – A Memoir of the Syrian War - by Marwan Hisham

Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin      

City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence

Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Homes: A Refugee Story - by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah   

Seeking Refuge by Stephen Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Bee Keeper of Aleppo: A Novel by Christy Lefteri

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

The Fox Hunt:  A Refugee’s Memoir of coming to America by Mohammed Al Samawi

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America by Nikesh Shukla

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri

To Stop a Warlord by Shannon Sedgwick Davis

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman

Welcoming the Stranger by Jenny Yang and Matthew Soerens

What is the What by Dave Eggers


Graphic Novels on the Refugee/Immigrant/Asylum Seeker Experience:

Illegal by Eoin Colfer

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

Undocumented:  A Worker’s Fight - by Duncan Tonatiuh

Zenobia – By Morten Durr

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Published April 14, 2020)


Books for Young Adults

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi 

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park

Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

In the Sea There are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John

Refugee by Alan Gratz

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai


Children’s books

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed

My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien



After Spring

Climate Refugees


For Sama

God Grew Tired of Us

Human Flow


Salam Neighbor

The Good Lie


Hotel Rwanda

Safe Harbour


Born in Syria

Fire at Sea

First They Killed My Father

Living Undocumented 


Children of Syria

Children of Aleppo

4.1 Miles

ISIS in Afghanistan

On the Brink of Famine

Midnight Traveler

Myanmar’s Killing Fields

Exodus & Exodus: The Journey Continues


The Land Between


Refugee Republic 


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