Immigration and the Refugee Experience Presented in Comics for Kids and Young Adults

Comics can be an effective gateway toward empathy and understanding. Both fiction and non-fiction comics can help the reader visualize and develop context for a wide variety of human experience. Here are a few comics which may help younger readers learn about the lives and experiences of refugees and immigrants.

Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland

This kid’s comic follows young Azzi and her parents as they are forced to flee their country, engage in an arduous journey, and adapt to life in a new country while learning a new language. Specific countries are not named, providing a sort of universal overview of the refugee experience. However, the details of Azzi’s story are an especially powerful introduction to the refugee experience for young readers.

Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

In this young adult comic, Abdelrazaq tells the story of her father, a Palestinian who grew up during the 1960s and ‘70s in a refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Readers of Persepolis will recognize the ways in which the detailed experiences of an individual young person can provide human-life level context for broader political conflict and strife.

The Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz

Schwartz’ family immigrated to West Germany from East Germany when the author was still a toddler. This young adult comic recounts their difficult immigration process, as the Schwartz family faced harassment from the Stasi (East Germany’s oppressive police force), ridicule and loss of privacy, and estrangement from neighbors and family. The story of the Schwartz family provides unique insight into the daily persecution of life under a totalitarian state.

Of course, expanding empathy and understanding isn’t just for young people. Below are a few adult comics on the refugee and immigrant experience.

Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by G. B. Tran

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden

Fans of Glidden will also want to visit The Nib to read her short online comic detailing the refugee vetting process.

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar by Reinhard Kleist

~posted by Richard V.

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