Children's Author Onjali Q. Raúf launches annual Refugee Book Reading Campaign 2019



Onjali Rauf launches UNHCR Ireland-CBI Book Reading Campaign at St Mary's Primary School, Dorset Street, Dublin.   © UNHCR



2019 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Onjali Rauf has signed up with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Children’s Books Ireland to support the annual refugee book-reading campaign taking place in libraries and bookshops across Ireland. Centred around World Refugee Day on June 20, the campaign is an opportunity to applaud the strength and courage of refugees; the solidarity of those countries, including Ireland, who assist refugees; and the global impact refugees continue to have in countries throughout the world.

“Books help children confront, understand and empathise with what it truly means to be a refugee and a human being in desperate need” said Onjali Q. Rauf. “I am proud of this opportunity to highlight the kind and generous acts by the people of Ireland to welcome those displaced by the ongoing war in Syria, and in so doing, breaking the mould of hostility and suspicion that is tragically the norm.”

Over 200 bookshops and libraries across Ireland will take part in the campaign, which encourages adults and children to buy or borrow a book about refugees. Popular titles include ‘The Kite Runner’, which documents the boyhood friendship of two friends in Afghanistan and ‘The Go-Away Bird‘, a first-hand account of the Rwandan Genocide by a 12-year-old refugee. For each title borrowed or bought, readers will get their own bookmark.

Enda O’Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland: “With a record number of people around the world forced to flee their homes, there has never been a better time for people to read the stories of those forced to flee. Their powerful stories are a reminder of the incredible resilience of the human spirit and determination of people to find a safe place to call home.”

Elaina Ryan, CEO Children's Books Ireland: “The recommended books for the Refugee Book-Reading Campaign are a wonderful starting point for discussions around other countries and cultures and the difficult decisions and dangerous journeys people are sometimes forced to make. Books are a safe space to explore big issues, and stories help young readers to develop empathy through putting themselves in the shoes of someone with a very different life to their own.”


Notes to Editors
Onjali Q. Rauf launched the campaign with primary school students of St. Mary’s Primary School, Dorset Street, Dublin 7 on June 18.

The book-reading campaign will take place in participating libraries and bookshops nationwide until 23 June. Book lists are available for adults and children

Biography of Onjali Q. Rauf
Onjali is the founder and CEO of Making Herstory, an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. Since 2015, she has delivered emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk in France. Her first novel, The Boy at the Back of the Class, is a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, serving to highlight the importance of friendship, empathy, and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense. Since its publication, the best-selling novel has gone on to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019 and the Blue Peter Book Award 2019, whilst being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the Jhalak Prize for Fiction.

Participating Bookshops and Libraries


Hodges Figgis, Dublin 2
O’Mahony’s Booksellers, Limerick
John’s Bookshop, Athlone
The Book Centre, Wexford Castle Bookshop, Castlebar The Winding Stair, Dublin 1


Carlow County Library Network
Castlebar Library
Clare County Library Network
Clondalkin Library
Cork City Library Network
Cork County Library Network
Donegal County Library Network
Dublin City Library Network
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Library network,
Galway City Library Network
Laois County Library
Fingal Library Network
Kilkenny County Library Network
Leitrim County Library Network
Limerick County Library Network
Meath County Library Network
Offaly County Library Network
Roscommon County Library Network
South Dublin County Library Network
Tipperary County Library Network
Waterford City Library Network
Waterford County Library Network
Wexford County Library Network