6th Graders Ponder Refugee Stories

6th grade students are currently reading Refugee by Alan Gratz. The book is told from the points of view of three refugee children who hail from three different countries during three different times in history. Josef and his family flee Nazi Germany in 1938; Isabel and her family flee Cuba in 1994; and Mahmoud and his family flee Syria in 2015. Although each tale is unique, there are similar ethical questions of empathy and personal responsibility woven throughout each story- What obligation do we have to help strangers born into circumstances less fortunate than our own? Is choosing to "mind our own business" synonymous with silently condoning the behavior that led to people becoming refugees? Teacher Christina Davis shares that, "The kids have really amazed me at how thoughtful and insightful their opinions are. The story is a great one, however, it is also heart wrenching. Although the main characters in the book are fictional, many of the events from the book did actually take place. My question to them will ultimately be - Is discussing painful events from history necessary to ensure that they are not repeated in the future?" 6th grade Civics teacher Cindy Cartwright is also using Refugee with the students in World Religions as a springboard to introduce Judaism.

Students will continue reading the book after Mid-Winter Break and will also be holding a drive for the International Rescue Committee. Stay tuned for details about what and how you can donate to their IRC drive.