• We have gathered a range of resources, strategies and arts-based activities using children’s literature. These Toolkit files should become useful points of reference for mediators. They are presented in a downloadable PDF format to make it easy for you to save and refer to. Please check back from time to time as we add to this growing resource.


Introducing the Toolkit

The toolkit provides a set of strategies, activities and ideas that can be used in a wide range of spaces. It can be used by anyone working in an educational, community or health setting who wants to use children’s literature to address the educational and emotional needs of children, young people and their families.

Using dual language picturebooks

Many children who have experienced displacement will have a Home Language which may not be used or recognised in educational settings. Dual language picturebooks are picturebooks which have two languages within the text and they can be used to draw on and build the linguistic repertoire of all children.

How to Select Picturebooks

There are many things to take into account when selecting a picturebook. Such decisions become even more important when we are working in challenging environments and with limited resources and training available.

Storytelling with wordless picturebooks

Both children and adults, including mediators themselves, are often surprised when they see a book without words for the first time and they are puzzled as to how these books can be ‘read’. Some may even doubt that they offer anything of ‘benefit’, especially for older children. Therefore, it is important to take the opportunity to talk about the role of words and pictures in a story and perhaps also about the images and symbols we see all around us and how we interpret them.

Walk and Talk Throughs

The walk and talk throughs provide children with opportunities to enter the world of the book, allowing them to become familiar with the plot, characters and ideas. They also provide space for the children to make links to their lives and experiences along the way.

Looking More Closely

In a picturebook, the pictures contain just as much information as the words do, so it is very useful to spend time looking closely at the pictures before using a book with children. You can then direct the children to explore very carefully the visuals in the book and engage with the narrative without turning immediately to the printed text.


When walking, talking and looking through books, children will often focus on certain elements and spend time discussing them in detail, while glossing over other aspects in a rush to find out the answers to questions or what happens next. Because of this, it is sometimes necessary to slow the reading process down by using strategies that allow children to examine the visuals in more detail. The annotations strategy we describe here is a refreshing and creative tool that can encourage a more careful reading of images, especially when used in conjunction with walking and talking through books.


Drama provides a way to explore using the body the circumstances surrounding a character or place within a book. Augusto Boal described the use of theatre as a new language, making the point that ‘By learning a new language, a person acquires a new way of knowing reality and of passing that knowledge on to others.’


Children, young people or adults create an art piece by sticking various materials on a piece of paper. This response strategy allows children to be creative and produce art in a way that is accessible even for those who may not be good at illustration. It is also a useful tool for students to reflect on their own lives and practices, using the books they have read as a launching pad.

Becoming Active in Your Community

Sometimes reading and listening to stories makes you want to respond by doing something that will help others in your community. Everyone using this website will be living and working in a different community; therefore, the following stories provide examples from mediators who worked with children who wanted to take some form of local action to help others. It is important that any form of action is grounded in the needs and lives of the children.

Exhibitions with Artefacts: Artefactual Literacy

The objects that surround us are involved in building our identities as individuals and as communities. When we ask someone to tell us about the artefacts that surround them, they often reveal stories and memories connected to these objects. They also reveal stories that tell of our shared values and cultural practices.

Graphic Strips: Responding through Illustrations

Children may lack the confidence to respond to a text orally or through annotating, so offering them the possibility of responding through illustrations provides another outlet to make meaning.

Photojournals: Photography

Mobile phones and social media platforms have facilitated the use of digital photography as a way for children to respond to books they have been reading. Digital photography helps children who lack confidence in expressing themselves through spoken or written forms and gives them control over the images they choose to capture, edit or share.

Reading and Making

This reading activity allows children (or any other participants) to experience the story and its language as the reading unfolds.

Other resources

Here are some other resources that we have selected to share, please get in touch with us if there are anything you feel should be included in this selection of useful resources.

Educational Justice Center (CJE) – Practices No.5

Seven suggestions for working on migration with picture books. In this number of  Practices we  present possible uses of books for children to work on origins, racism, displacements, and interculturality.

Todas Las Voces Con Las Migrantes

All Voices With Migrants – video.

Literatura en Contextos Críticos de Desplazamiento

The dedicated YouTube channel of the network includes short presentations at different events and information on the Programme Salas de Lectura. You will also find examples of activities that mediators have shared with their communities, as well as presentations on the importance of visual language, picturebooks and their potential impact.

IBBY – Europe

The National Sections of IBBY in Europe present a regularly updated selection of the best books for children in European languages. IBBY Europe also highlights books in the most common languages currently spoken by migrant or refugee children in Europe.

IBBY – Mexico

Guide for Books recommended for children and young people.

Worlds of Words

Worlds of Words builds bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature.

Academic Published Articles

  1. Arizpe, E., Colomer, T. and Martínez-Roldán, C. with Bagelman, C., Bellorín, B., Farrell, M., Fittipaldi, M., Grilli, G., Manresa, M., Margallo, A.M., McAdam, J., Real, N. and Terrusi, M. (2014). Visual Journeys through Wordless Narratives: An international inquiry with immigrant children and The Arrival. Bloomsbury Academic. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/92282/
  2. Arizpe, E. (2012) Entre imágenes y palabras: la investigación que promueve comunidades lectoras inclusivas y creativas, in T. Colomer & M. Fittipaldi (eds) La literatura que acoge: inmigración y lectura de álbumes. Barcelona: Banco del Libro – GRETEL y Fundación SM. pp 44-68. http://www.gretel.cat/es/publicaciones/la-literatura-que-acoge-inmigracion-y-lectura-de-albumes/
  3. Arizpe, E. & McAdam, J. (2011) Crossing Visual Borders and Connecting Cultures: Children’s responses to the photographic theme in David Wiesner’s Flotsam, New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship 17 (2), 227-243. https://doi.org/10.1080/13614541.2011.624969
  4. Farrell, M., Arizpe, E. and McAdam, J. (2010) ‘Journeys across visual borders with The Arrival by Shaun Tan: Annotated spreads as a method for understanding pupil’s creation of meaning through visual images’, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 33 (3), 198-210. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/49706/
  5. McAdam, J. E., Arizpe, E., Devlin, A. M. , Farrell, M. , and Farrar, J. (2014) Journeys from Images to Words. Project Report. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. https://issuu.com/esmeefairbairn/docs/journeys_from_images_to_words
  6. Arizpe, E. (2013) Research Report Summary: Journeys from Images to Words. Scottish Educational Research Association Researching Education Bulletin 4, 27-30. Available at https://www.sera.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2018/08/SERA_REB_issue_4_June_2013.pdf
  7. Arizpe, E., Bagelman, C., Devlin, A. M., Farrell, M. and McAdam, J. (2014) Visualising Intercultural Literacy: Engaging critically with diversity and migration in the classroom through an image-based approach, Language and Intercultural Communication. 14(3), pp. 304-321. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2014.903056
  8. McAdam, J. and Farrar, J. (2014) Narratives of Change: Creating a Community of Inquiry using Drama, NETLA journal. http://netla.hi.is/serrit/2014/diversity_in_education/006.pdf
  9. McAdam, J. (2018)   Narratives of Change: The role of Storytelling, artefacts and Children’s Literature in Building Communities of Inquiry that Care, Cambridge Journal of Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2018.1524001
  10. McAdam, J. E., Hirsu, L. and Abou Ghaida, S. (2018) ‘Why does that lighthouse have a speaker on it?’: the potential of Arabic picture books. English 4-11, 63, pp. 9-12. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/159419/
  11. Goldin Halfon, D., Petit, M., & Arizpe, E. (2018). De la promoción de la lectura al arte de la hospitalidad / Promoting Readership and the Art of Hospitality. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 10(1). Retrieved from http://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/417