The Little Refugee By Anh Do and Suzanne Do




little refugee

The Little Refugee is the picture story version of Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee. Both books are brilliant; with The Happiest Refugee being on my own personal Top Ten List! The Little Refugee is a perfect, condensed version for children and one that everyone can benefit from reading.


The Little Refugee is Anh Do’s autobiography, condensed and simplified. Many of the key elements from The Happiest Refugee are touched on, but obviously, due to its length and intended audience, it brushes over some situations and leaves others out entirely.

The story begins in Vietnam when Anh is a small boy. It discusses life with extended family in a cramped space, the impact of war and then the decision to flee to Australia.

The family travels by boat and encounters pirates and many hardships. Eventually they make it safely to Australia and begin their new life here; although their difficulties are not completely behind them.

Why I love it:

In general, we live a pretty good life here in Australia and I think many of us can benefit from the occasional reminder that life for others is not so easy or so charmed.

I genuinely adore this book and believe it should be compulsory reading for children, with The Happiest Refugee being compulsory reading for adults!

I am yet to get through a reading without tearing up, both at terrifying and happy moments, but a lot of that is due to me being me!

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Family
  • Luck
  • War
  • Refugees
  • Fear
  • Strength
  • Differences
  • Acceptance
  • Kindness
  • Resilience
  • Hope
  • Bravery
  • Gratitude

Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • What is a ‘refugee’?
  • What is happening in the background of the cover?
  • What do you notice about the names of the authors?
  • What emotion do you think the boy on the cover, is feeling?
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Did any parts of the story make you feel sad? If so, what were they?
  • How do you imagine the family felt when they were on the boat?
  • How do you think you would feel if this happened to your family?
  • What would you be most afraid of?
  • Why do you think the others at school took time to accept Anh?
  • How do you think he felt when he became class captain?
  • How do you think his parents felt?
  • What would you say or do to help refugees if you could?

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