3 (more) Books to Help Understand Immigration and the Global Refugee Crisis


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

As a child, Nayeri was forced to flee her home country of Iran because her mother was a Christian—a crime punishable by fines, arrest, imprisonment, and death. Nayeri details their harrowing and heartbreaking flight through several different countries, accounting what it was like to be a child growing up without a home and living in limbo. Several other refugee stories are interwoven into Nayeri’s memoir as well. Due to the subject at hand and how intensely personal it was for me, finishing the book left me in a sort of book hangover for a while, and I found myself needing to take a break from reading anything afterward. This is a powerful story that looks intimately into the psychology of a refugee. Get your pencils ready; you’ll find yourself underlining a lot.

Notable Quote: “We drift from the safe places of our childhood. There is no going back. Like stories, villages and cities are always growing or fading or melding into each other. We are all immigrants from the past, and home lives inside the memory, where we lock it up and pretend it is unchanged.”

91+UbXN-oaLThe Beekeeper of Aleppo
By Christy Lefteri

Nuri, a beekeeper by trade, lives a simple and quiet life with his wife and young son in Aleppo, Syria. As the war rips his country, family, and livelihood apart, Nuri and his wife make the difficult decision to leave behind all they have ever known and become one of the millions of displaced Syrians.

I picked up this book on a whim during an airport layover after the title and cover caught my eye. While Nuri’s story is fictional, it represents the voices of the millions who bear the title ‘refugee’ and a heartbreaking yet realistic depiction of the refugee’s experience. There are definitely disturbing parts of this book, but it is a must-read story that is stunningly emotional and thought-provoking.

Notable Quote: “I wish I could escape my mind, that I could be free of this world and everything I have seen in the last few years. And the children who have survived – what will become of them? How will they be able to live in this world?”

51YBMz37y1L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong
By Karen Gonzalez

We need more books on immigration written by immigrants. Gonzalez does just that as she recounts her family’s flight out of Guatemala to California and Florida. Partly an autobiography, partly a Bible study, and partly on United States’ immigration policies, The God Who Sees puts a much- needed face to statistics through both modern-day and Biblical stories of displacement.

Using Biblical scripture, Gonzalez issues a plea for the Western Church to open its eyes to the plight of immigrants in the US and to treat refugees and asylum seekers as Jesus has commanded. This book is a great start to diving into the immigration issues that are so pressing today.

Notable Quote: “When we talk about immigrants and immigration we are always talking about people who matter deeply to God. We are talking about people made in the image of God—people like Hagar and my abuelita.”


Check out seven other books to read on the Global Refugee Crisis here.


7 Books to Help Understand Immigration and the Global Refugee Crisis

51m5JkhX0bL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_SEEKING REFUGE
By Stephan Bauman, Mattew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir

This title is part of my holy grail resources on the Global Refugee Crisis. While filled with facts, numbers, and statistics, the authors balance this with putting faces and the humanity back into refugees by incorporating true stories throughout. The fears and myths regarding refugees are addressed as well as the Biblical mandate to welcome the refugee. A book for Christians wanting to know what is really happening and how to help.

Notable Quote: “The Bible challenges us to persevere—in welcoming refugees in our own communities but also in the larger tasks of addressing the root injustices that force them to flee”.



By Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

If the beautiful cover doesn’t grab you then the braiding of two stories – one ancient and one modern-day –  will. Told from a Syrian child’s point of view, The Map of Salt and Stars outlines the struggles and hardships refugees are presently enduring, not by preaching but by showing in a compelling and enchanting way. Nour’s story stayed with me long after I put down the book.

Notable Quote: “Don’t forget,’ he says, and Abu Sayeed looks up while he translates, holding the words back a little, ‘stories ease the pain of living, not dying. People always think dying is going to hurt. But it does not. It’s living that hurts us.”


51xxFa3T0EL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_WELCOMING THE STRANGER (Revised Edition)
By Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang

A must read if you want to have an informed decision when it comes to the voting polls and to hold knowledgeable conversations on the topic of immigration in the U.S. Welcoming the Stranger provides an easily-understood history of immigration with relevant anecdotes and useful resources for individuals, churches, and small groups. A must read.

Notable Quote: “When we read the Bible as a sacred narrative of God’s interaction with humanity, we find that immigrants and refugees play many of the most important roles in the story. Throughout Scripture God has used the movement of people to accomplish his greater purposes”.


614ClzmOf3L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_SEA PRAYER
by Khaled Hosseini
(Fiction, Short Story)

To commemorate the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea with his family in 2015, novelist, Khaled Hosseini writes a fictional letter from a father to his son on the eve of their journey out of Syria and across the seas. The 48-page watercolor-illustrated book has also been made into a 360 degree illustrated film, which can be seen here.

Notable Quote: “I have heard it said we are the uninvited.  We are the unwelcome.  We should take our misfortune elsewhere.  But I hear your mother’s voice, over the tide, and she whispers in my ear, ‘Oh but if they saw, my darling.  Even half of what you have.  If only they saw.  They would say kinder things, surely.'”


The Girl Who 
Smiled Beads
By Clementine 

A Hope More Powerful 
Than The Sea
By Melissa Fleming

Love Undocumented 
By Sarah Quezada
(Non Fiction)