Stories are one way that experiences, ideas and culture are shared with children in educational settings. Commercially published books are the standard means in schools for sharing stories. Qualitative content analysis was carried out on 30 personal narrative-based children’s picture books. While the range of stories told in books is vast, our research focuses on refugee stories for children in light of the contemporary political and public focus on refugees and the forced movement of people around the world. Scholars have identified that books about refugees for children can be useful to explore the topic of refugees, but also caution that they can perpetuate simplistic and stereotypical understandings about forced movement in the world. In our research we examine personal narratives and propose that educators should use stories and books written and illustrated by children as a means to bring refugee children’s voices into formal educational spaces. We argue that this is a respectful approach that counters a deficit model of refugee children; it highlights refugee children’s authentic voices and stories told on their own terms. Additionally, it offers a counter-narrative to dominant refugee stories in the public sphere and presents understandings of forced migration and its legacies from children’s perspectives. We suggest that to effectively examine refugee experiences through literature, educators should use a number of texts to begin conversations in classrooms, and stories by children who have experienced forced migration should be featured.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3798
ISSN: 0141-1926