The Journey

As of 2019, there are 26 million refugees worldwide. This book makes visible this experience and helps children begin their understanding from a place of empathy. This story is about a family that is forced to escape war and leave their home in search of safety. The Journey is told mainly in narrative style with simple sentences but the illustrations are where much of the meaning is stored which makes it fantastic for supporting visual literacy instruction. It shows the family leaving everything behind, dangerous border crossings, different modes of transportation and unsafe environments. Use this text to inspire students to participate in service opportunities and support policies that build a sense of belonging for every person in your community.

Social Justice Activities:

  1. Use the metaphors in the illustrations throughout the story to build empathy, respect and understanding of this family's experience. This resource has questions you can ask on every page.

  2. Explore the bird/migration metaphor at the end. How does power, birth place, race, and socio-economic status affect migration?

  3. Research organizations in your community that support refugees and/or immigrants and city and county initiatives. Assist with service opportunities and support policies that build a sense of belonging for every person in your community.

  4. Research facts and current events on websites like

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Diversity 8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.

Diversity 9. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.

Justice 12. Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Action 16. Students will express empathy when people are excluded or mistreated because of their identities and concern when they themselves experience bias.

Action 20. Students will plan and carry out collective action against bias and injustice in the world and will evaluate what strategies are most effective.

Reading Strategies:

Visual Literacy: Why is the sea black? Why does the author change the color scheme on some pages from dark to bright? Why is the guard so large with a red beard? What does the lighthouse symbolize? More great questions here.

Author's Craft: Analyze how the story is told from the child's point of view. How might it have been different if told from the mother's point of view?

Sequencing, Theme, Metaphors (visual literacy)

Book Details:

  • Fiction, 3rd and up

  • Perspectives: Refugee

  • Author's stated heritage: Italian

  • Subject Integration: Art, Science (animal migration)

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain