Why a children's book on the refugee crisis is what society needs right now
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Having recently attended a talk given by Nicola Davis on her latest children's book addressing the refugee crisis, I feel the time is right to stop hiding the next generation from issues they will eventually have to face. On the 25th of April 2016, Parliament voted to reject 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees on the UK’s behalf and that was the moment that children’s author Nicola Davies decided she had had enough. She described herself as “furious” at the decision, having decided that the Government had truly lost its way. Around the same time, she discovered a story about a refugee child who had walked into a school near their camp and was turned away because all the chairs were full. The next day the same child returned, this time with a broken chair, and asked again inspiring Davies to write the poem 3,000 Chairs. This poem went on to inspire the Twitter campaign #3000chairs, in which users were encouraged to paint, draw or make a chair and send it in. The essential aim of the project was to send a message of “welcome” and the response was incredible. When writing this poem, which has now been released as a picture book, Davies focused on the idea of childhood innocence and how we as a society try to shield children from bad news. Speaking at a recent talk, the author explained her frustration at this ideology, saying that it is impossible in the age of screens, images, social media to keep what is going on in the world a secret from our children. In response to some adult's declaring her work was “too upsetting” for children, the author branded such claims as “nonsense” and further showed her frustration by noting that “it’s because adults do not want to have to talk about it and explain about the s**t in the world”. “Of course we must talk about it with sensitivity but it is essential that we do have these conversations and open ourselves up to these questions [that children will ask].” The illustrator, Rebecca Cobbs, added that the reason adults do not like talking about this issue is that they are “embarrassed” they are allowing it to happen. At the end of the day, children are the next generation and will, eventually, have to deal with this issue. One of the speakers was an education and humanitarian worker from Syria who had been a refugee herself. She talked about her work in Lebanon with children and how she had come across one 5 year old girl who did not want to live anymore because the situation around her had become so dire.
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