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The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

“The entire world is full of hearts searching for a place to call home. But refugees are different, because they don’t just look for a home.  They look for peace too. And because of that, they possess the most special hearts anyone could ever have.”                                                                                                  – The Boy at the Back of Class

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The Boy at the Back of the Class was the perfect book to read during our Sixth Grade Social Issue/Teen Activist unit. Students loved the story of Ahmet, the Syrian Refugee, who struggled to fit into his new home in England. Students quickly noticed all the pressures that Ahmet faced, and were rooting for his new friends to make an impact on his life.

Sixth grade book club members tracked the pressures that Ahmet faced throughout the book:

Students loved this book so much, that they quickly started searching for other books written by Onjali Q Rauf.  When they found out this was her debut novel, they were shocked.

Farrah:  Until I read this book, I didn’t truly understand the refugee crisis we are facing. Now when I see stories on the news, it bothers me and I feel the need to do something about it. If more teachers use this book in their classrooms, there will be more and more people that will know about this issue and more activists to help! “I had never thought about how loud a whisper can be if there are lots and lots of them. So, all that day, I whispered ‘Help Ahmet’ out loud too, whenever I could. So did Tom and Michael and Josie.  And whenever we did it together, our whispers made us sound like an ocean. “-  The Boy at the Back of the Class

Alyssa: There are so many reasons teachers should use this book! It teaches kids about family separation, going to a new school, refugees, standing up for what is right and so much more!  

Skylar: I love how Onjali Q Rauf incorporates humor into a book that is about a very serious topic. When Ahmet’s friends find out that England is going to close its borders to refugees, they develop a plan to meet with the Queen of England to stop this from happening.

Greatest Plan Ever

Addi: Having 9 year old kids try and solve the refugee problem was really touching. They are true activists because they didn’t just sit around complaining, they took matters into their own hands and made a difference!  I loved the part when they wrote to the “Queendom of England”

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Final Thoughts:

My students and I were touched by this book, it is truly a special story that I will share with my classes for years to come.  It helped my sixth graders realize that you are never too young to make a change in the world. The text says it perfectly <3:

Perhaps it is the actions of these children which will inspire political bodies across the world to finally heed the plight of refugee children everywhere.– The Boy at the Back of the Class

 

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