Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement

Through stories, picturebooks and arts-based practices, we started building a network – a network to support communities in contexts of flux, to link and strengthen connections between communities and practitioners, and to establish new connections with people who share our values and want to engage in similar activities. We started with the simple gesture of placing a picturebook into children’s hands in communities that have experienced vulnerability in its many forms (migration, displacement, poverty). Together with these communities, we explored the power of picturebooks and storytelling and started gathering around us formal and informal stakeholders who wanted to carry this work forward. In classrooms, community centres, parks, market, and even the streets.

We worked with partners in Egypt and Mexico over three years, including researchers, NGOs, governmental agencies, and volunteer initiatives in both countries. Since then, our network has expanded to include partners in Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and Lebanon. The aim of our network has been to build on our expertise in children’s literature, migration and education in order to better negotiate the challenges that many multiethnic communities are currently addressing with few and precarious resources. We have exchanged knowledge on current issues affecting the cognitive and emotional welfare of displaced children. We have scoped unique creative practices and identified successful strategies of using children’s literature and arts-based activities. We have gathered resources, examples of activities, and stories from the contexts in both countries. We have provided training and developed materials, as well as arts-based methods to record the impact of using children’s literature with displaced children. Our website documents some of this work, including a Toolkit for mediators to used in these contexts which include step by step activities, including safeguarding. By documenting this work, we hope to facilitate a virtual safe space where we share creative ideas on how to best support our communities.

The project was supported by and AHRC-GCRF grant and SCF-GCRF funding which made possible the development and delivery of workshops, field visits and networking events.

The video that summarises the project highlights the need for the continuation of ODA funding in order to develop and deliver projects related to education, culture and the arts, especially overseas.

We are now looking for funding to extend the digital possibilities of the project.

Image of Prof E Arizpe in her office

Watch the full clip at

First published: 2 February 2022

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