Amal Walks Across America

One little girl. One big hope. Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl. She has traveled across 13 countries meeting more than a million people and has been watched by tens of millions more online. She has become an international symbol of compassion and of human rights, carrying a message of hope for displaced people everywhere, especially children who have been separated from their families.

This fall, she is journeying 6,000 miles across the United States in one of the largest free public festivals ever created. Little Amal’s journeys of art and hope celebrate the rich stories of refugees, immigrants and displaced people, and the communities that welcome them.

September 17, 2023

The Sound of Hope

At Black Lives Matter Plaza, Amal is exhilarated by the music and stories swirling round her. She is swept towards Franklin Park by the sounds of marching bands and choirs, who play the uplifting music of GoGo, gospel, and more…

Little Amal Reading List

To welcome Little Amal to Washington, D.C., Planet Word has curated a reading list for readers of all ages based on themes of Home, Migration, Fear, Climate, Adventure, and Welcome.


Picture Books


Dreamers by Yuyi MoralesDreamers, Yuyi Morales

Dreamers is a memoir in a picture book form, recounting how author and artist Yuyi Morales came to the United States with her infant son in 1994. It is a tale of reinvention and resilience, and the hopes, dreams, and strengths immigrants bring with them to their new communities.


Lubna and Pebble by Wendy MeddourLubna and Pebble, Wendy Meddour

Lubna arrives in a refugee camp with a pebble. The small, smooth rock brings her comfort and security in the face of upheaval and uncertainty. But when a scared little boy arrives, Lubna realizes that he needs the pebble more than she does and gives him her prized possession, in a small but powerful act of kindness.


The Name Jar by Yangsook ChoiThe Name Jar, Yangsook Choi

Unhei has just moved from Korea to the United States. She wants to fit in at her new school and worries that no one will be able to pronounce her name. She sets out to pick an American name from a glass jar, but nothing feels quite right. With the help of a friend, she finds the courage to be proud of who she is and where she comes from.


Middle Grade and Young Adult Books


Brother’s Keeper by Julie LeeBrother’s Keeper, Julie Lee

As the chaos of war closes in on 12-year-old Sora’s home in North Korea, she and her family have no choice but to flee south. When Sora and her younger brother are separated from their parents, they must make the perilous trek on their own. Sora’s journey gives readers a glimpse into the past, and a sense of the bravery and resilience of children displaced by war.


Habibi by Naomi Shihab-NyeHabibi, Naomi Shihab-Nye

Liyana’s life is turned upside down when her father announces that he’s moving his family from St. Louis, Missouri, to his home country, Palestine. She feels completely out of place and alone in Palestine, where she has little connection to the people, culture, or language, and wonders if she’ll ever be able to call this place home — until she makes an unexpected friend, Omer.

See Habibi in Planet Word’s Library exhibit!


Other Words for Home by Jasmine WargaOther Words for Home, Jasmine Warga

Jude loves her life and home in Syria, but escalating violence forces her family to make an impossible decision: Jude’s father and brother will remain in Syria, while Jude and her pregnant mother will leave to stay with relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Homesick and worried about the safety of her father and brother, Jude must find her way in a strange and often unwelcoming new place.


Refugee by Alan GratzRefugee, Alan Gratz

Josef flees Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Isabel leaves the upheaval of Cuba aboard a raft in 1994. And in 2015, Mahmoud begins a long trek to escape war-torn Syria. These young people are separated by time and space, but their harrowing experiences of displacement and migration bring them together in powerful, unexpected ways.


Vietnamerica: A Family’s Story by GB TranVietnamerica: A Family’s Story, GB Tran

Growing up in South Carolina, author and artist GB Tran had little knowledge or interest in his family’s past, until as a young man he began to unravel the remarkable truth of how and why his parents fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. Vietnamerica tells the sweeping story of Tran’s family as his parents left behind everything they knew and charted a new beginning for themselves in a foreign land.

See Vietnamerica in Planet Word’s Library exhibit!


We Are Displaced by Malala YousafzaiWe Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai

In her travels to refugee camps around the world, Nobel Peace Prize winning activist Malala Yousafzai met and learned the stories of many remarkable girls. In We Are Displaced, she shares the personal tragedies, triumphs, and aspirations of girls who have persevered in the face of incredible loss and hardship.


When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar MohamedWhen Stars are Scattered, Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

When Stars are Scattered tells the story of Omar Mohamed, a Somali boy who spent most of his childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya. In the camp, life is dull and resources are scarce. Omar spends most of his time looking out for his younger, nonverbal brother Hassan, but when Omar gets a life-changing opportunity, he faces an impossible choice: turn down a chance to go to school or leave the only family member he has left.


Adult Books


A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel AllendeA Long Petal of the Sea, Isabel Allende

Among the hundreds of thousands who flee Spain when the Fascists seize control of the government in the late 1930s are Roser and Victor, who reluctantly marry in order to survive. They set sail for a new continent, starting over while dreaming of returning home to Spain. Through the lens of one relationship, readers embark on a sweeping adventure of war, exile, love, and the quest to find home.


The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh NguyenThe Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, Viet Thanh Nguyen (editor)

In this moving collection of essays — edited by Pulitzer-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, a refugee himself — prominent writers share their experiences of forced displacement and migration. The essays illuminate the scope and scale of the modern refugee crisis, at a moment when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies have made refuge harder to find for the millions seeking it.


The Joy Luck Club by Amy TanThe Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

Amy Tan’s intergenerational tale of four immigrant mothers and their daughters has inspired readers for more than 30 years. Told from the perspective of each woman, it reveals the forces, trials, and tragedies that caused each of the mothers to leave China for the United States, their hopes and dreams for their daughters, and the tensions, conflicts, and bonds that unite them all.


What Strange Paradise by Omar El AkkadWhat Strange Paradise, Omar El Akkad

Against all odds, a nine-year-old Syrian boy, Amir, is the lone survivor of a shipwreck that takes the lives of the other passengers on board, all seeking refuge from their homelands. He washes up on a small island and is saved by a teenaged girl named Vänna, who also feels disconnected from her home and her community. The two are strangers with no common language, but they are determined to protect one another and find safety in a hostile world. is an online bookstore that supports local, independent bookstores and publishers. Planet Word is an affiliate of and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

  • Did you know?

    Perhaps ironically, the word “sesquipedalophobia” means “the fear of long words.”
  • Did you know?

    “Contronyms” are words that contain multiple meanings that are complete opposites of each other. For example, “oversight” means both “the action of overseeing something” and “a failure to notice something.”
  • Did you know?

    There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, but more than half the world’s population speaks only 23 of these languages.
  • Did you know?

    The first entirely artificial language was the Lingua Ignota, a private mystical cant recorded in the 12th century by St. Hildegard of Bingen.
  • Did you know?

    The 10 most-used letters in English are E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S, L, and C.
  • Did you know?

    Eels, llamas, and aardvarks, ooh my! In English, there are only four letters that appear as double letters at the beginning of a word: A, E, L, and O.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • How do you get a dog to stop eating your books?

    Take the words right out of its mouth!
  • What's the difference between a cat and a comma?

    A cat has claws at the end of its paws, but a comma’s a pause at the end of a clause.
  • The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar...

    It was tense.
  • Is there a word that uses all the vowels including y?

  • Riddle me this

    What did the intransitive verb say when told it was pretty? (Answer: Nothing. Intransitive verbs can’t take complements.)
  • Riddle me this

    What does an island and the letter T have in common? (Answer: They’re both in the middle of water.)
  • Riddle me this

    What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? (Answer: Short)
  • Riddle me this

    What starts with an E, ends with an E, and contains just one letter? (Answer: An envelope!)
  • Riddle me this

    What begins with a T, ends with a T, and has T in it? (Answer: A teapot!)
  • Riddle me this

    What’s in centuries, hours, and years, but not minutes, days, or seconds? (Answer: The letter R!)
  • Quote them on it

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  • Quote them on it

    “The past is always tense, the future perfect.” — Zadie Smith
  • Quote them on it

    “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” — Toni Morrison
  • Quote them on it

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only once.” — George R.R. Martin
  • Quote them on it

    “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” — Nelson Mandela