Kevin Christofora is the author of a new book, Amira Can Catch, which uses the story of Amira, a Syrian refugee who is new in school to teach children about diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.
In Amira Can Catch, Nick and the rest of the team meet the new girl at school: Amira, a Syrian refugee. Nick invites her to join the baseball team, and he and the team not only make a new friend, they also learn about Syrian culture, giving them a taste of the many different cultures that comprise America’s melting pot.
According to the Refugee Council of Australia, Australia resettled around 22,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq in 2016-2017.This number will drop back to 16,250 places in 2017-18.
These children have experienced seven years of conflict, war and displacement. They join our local schools and communities with very different experiences of childhood to local kids. So how do we bridge the gap, educate our kids, teach empathy, compassion, tolerance and understanding about atrocities even we, as parents, find in-comprehendible?
Kevin says learning about diversity and inclusion are lessons that children need now more than ever.
In writing the book, Kevin says” “I hope I can make the world a better place with a bedtime story that teaches children that [we] come from many diverse backgrounds, and that they take that lesson into their own lives and befriend someone who is new or different.”
In this special guest piece, Kevin Christofora explains why the message of tolerance and inclusion is an important message for children to hear today, why it’s important for kids to understand current events and tips on how to explain the Syrian refugee crisis to children
How To Talk To Your Kids About Syrian Refugees
“The Syrian refugee crisis is currently one of the biggest issues affecting the world at large. Over 5 million Syrians have left the country since the war began, and more have been displaced within it. While many children today don’t know or remember a time before that conflict began seven years ago, it’s been a major factor shaping the world they live in today. The crisis has impacted economies, cultures, and individuals on such a massive scale that parents should really consider talking with their kids about it, especially within the context of how best to interact with refugees themselves.
Talking about war with children can be tough, because we want to preserve some of their innocence. It’s even more difficult when the situation is complex and nuanced— after all, many adults don’t have a thorough understanding of the war, or the political climate in Syria leading up to it. Typically, asking what children may know or have heard about the issue is a good place to start; after all, Syria is a frequent news topic, so they’re likely to have heard something. From there, you can tailor you address based on what they may know or have heard.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what the political machinations that caused the war in Syria, many people had to flee their homes for their safety, and cannot go back. Communicating to children that many of those who left Syria are families just like yours, and that they didn’t want to leave but had to, is key to helping them understand what a refugee is in the first place. It also will help them to understand that refugees aren’t something to be feared: they’re just people who need help.
When the crisis is framed this way, it isn’t a terribly complicated jump to encouraging tolerance of and compassion for refugees. Children can understand the concept of treating others the way you want to be treated— if your family had to leave because where you live became a dangerous place, wouldn’t you want people to be kind to you? The idea is scary, but that fear is a reality for millions of people, and children can understand that refugees aren’t in a good situation and deserve compassion. Talking to children about the Syrian refugee crisis can seem overwhelming, but it certainly can be distilled to points children will understand, and is an important part of teaching them tolerance and compassion.”
ABOUT: Kevin Christofora is the author of ‘Amira Can Catch,’ a new children’s book about befriending a Syrian refugee, which deals with inclusiveness and diversity. Kevin Christofora’s “The Hometown All-Stars” children’s book series offers children a number of important lessons, including: self-esteem, self-confidence, teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, the importance of role models, and winning and losing. In his newest children’s book, ‘Amira Can Catch’ Christofora tackles what can arguably be called the most important lessons yet: that Americans come from many backgrounds, that inclusivity is important, even in the schoolyard, and the importance of befriending someone who is new or different.