A Story Like the Wind / Before Reading / /

What is a Refugee?

An introduction to what the word refugee means and context building to support reading.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series

Text potential

  • Background knowledge: Refugee experience

Strategies used

  • Background Knowledge


Comprehension is built upon existing knowledge. A lack of background knowledge and experience can inhibit understanding. If a subject is unfamiliar, building background knowledge before reading will increase understanding and help to minimise miscomprehension.

Children’s knowledge of refugee experience will likely be varied depending on background and engagement with current affairs. There may well be confusion around terminology. This introductory lesson allows children to share their existing knowledge so that an assessment can be made of their level of understanding. It also covers some necessary factual information and busts some popular misconceptions.


  • Download the Refugees Fact and Fiction slideshow.
  • Download the Refugee Fact Sheet


Start with the question:

  • What is a refugee? Invite the children to pool their knowledge.


Refugees: True or False?

Hand out the set of Refugee Statement cards.

Working with a partner, or in a small group, ask the children to read each statement and decide whether it is true, false. If they are unsure, they can use an undecided column.

True  False  Undecided 

Briefly discuss and answer any questions the children have. You may want to share the short presentation – Refugees Fact and Fiction slideshow. 

Final reflection

Prompts for final reflection:

  • Have you learnt anything new about refugees today?
  • Do you have any questions? Write the questions and keep them for reference. Revisit them while reading the book.

Distribute copies of A Story Like the Wind and explain that this is a story about a small group of people making a dangerous journey in the hope of finding a place of safety. We don’t know where they come from, and we don’t know where they are going, but their story is like the story of many refugees who have made similar journeys.

Key vocabulary

refugee, displacement, migration


The Refugee Council

Source of information about all issues relating to refugee status and experience.

Visit resource

Refugees Fact and Fiction slideshow

Refugees Fact and Fiction

Refugee Statements

Use these statements for discussion.

Refugee Statements

Refugee Fact sheet

.Refugee Fact Sheet

These facts accompany the statements and slide show

Source of information The Refugee Council


Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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