The earliest stories of our faith describe a wandering people. And the Israelites are told to remember the experience of having to leave their homes and use it to inform their lives after they are settled again. “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21). Hospitality and care for the stranger are at the heart of the Gospel as well. “ Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13.2)
In our world today, there are nearly 60 million refugees or internally displaced people, with nearly 50% of those refugees being under the age of 18. Our newspapers are filled with debates about refugee resettlement and immigration, our politicians consider closing our borders. Welcoming the stranger is part of our heritage and calling. How do we help children and young people understand this experience and develop a capacity for hospitality to all?
This bibliography is one way to aid you in answering that question. In the book selections here, Noell Rathbun-Cook has gathered books that tell stories of welcoming the stranger in a variety of ways. Some of these books address how cultural or physical differences can lead to misunderstandings. Some are from the experience and feelings of someone who feels out of place. Others address the experience and feelings of someone in the position of welcoming a stranger. All of these books can help you engage children and young people in a consideration of what it means to live a life transformed by the love of Christ. Hospitality – welcoming the stranger – is a part of that life. (Romans 12:9-13)
(We will be posting full book reviews of two of the books listed – I’m New Here and My Two Blankets – within the next two weeks. You can also find full reviews on Storypath to two other books mentioned here: The Bronze Bow and American Born Chinese.) The Journey, a recent review, is another excellent book to add to this list.
Thank you to regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and Minister of Children’s and Youth Discipleship at Grace Baptist Church, Richmond, VA, for her work compiling this bibliography.