From Far Away, Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar, Annick Press, 2017.

For a number of years we have heard about the refugee crisis. Or, according to others, the immigrant crisis. We have seen the images of war torn areas that families are seeking refuge from. We have voiced outrage on social media when the most troubling images of children were brought to our attention.

But what about the children? 

From Far Away provides such a perspective. Seven-year-old Saussan Askar writes a letter about leaving her war torn country and what life is like in her new country.

The book was originally published in 1995, based on Askar’s experience fleeing Lebanon and settling with her family in Toronto. This new printing has new illustrations and a revised text. The illustrations by Rebecca Green communicate well the feelings of the children, both Saussan and her classmates. Their faces are very expressive. The writing is simple, and the situations Saussan finds herself in are familiar to young readers. Children ages five to eight will find this enjoyable and meaningful.

It’s important to remember, this is a sad story.

A sad story based on a sad reality. Saoussan cannot speak English when she goes to school, making it extremely difficult to communicate. She crawls out of the classroom to go to the restroom, unsure how to ask if she can go. She becomes frightful of a Halloween skeleton decoration.

When Saoussan sees her first teacher at the mall, she runs and hugs her. The scene tugs at your heart. It causes you to feel compassion for the child and the whole situation. This is why From Far Away is an important children’s book.

Click here for immigration resources. 

It would be important for the adult reading this book to read it first. Mostly, to be familiar with the story to better aid the child in a talking about empathy for immigrants. Children are naturally empathic to others. We, as their models, seem to influence them to do otherwise.

This is a challenging and important book. But, it is one of hope. An important addition to any classroom library, especially one concerned with justice and tolerance.

You can purchase your own copy by clicking on the image below:

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.