More books and films about the Child Migrants and the Forgotten Australians

‘To take children from their families and their countries was an abuse; to strip them of their identity was an abuse; to forget them and deny them their loss was an abuse… Few tragedies can compare’ (Margaret Humphreys)


In this book Ellen Boucher writes ‘in the 1980s the silence surrounding the subject of the lost families started to be broken. The decade witnessed a rapid growth of advocacy groups dedicated to raising awareness about the history of child emigration and to seeking redress for men and women who had been hurt by the policy. One of the first was the Child Migrant Friendship Society of Western Australia, founded in 1982 by a group of former migrants who aimed to relieve ‘the suffering, helplessness, distress, misfortune, poverty, destitution and emotional disturbance’ that they believed  the initiative had produced. Five years later Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham based social worker established the Child Migrants Trust, which campaigned to pressure the emigration charities, as well as the British and Australian governments, to acknowledge the trauma endured by former migrants……. It was instrumental in the release of a 1989 popular history and documentary, Lost Children of the Empire**, which was followed by Humphreys’ Empty Cradles. Combined these works reveal harrowing accounts of physical and psychological suffering in child migrant institutions, and emphasized the message that the emigration movement had produced lifelong emotional harm. As Humphreys argued ‘to take children from their families and their countries was an abuse; to strip them of their identity was an abuse; to forget them and deny them their loss was an abuse…. Few tragedies can compare’

** LOST CHILDREN OF THE EMPIRE by Joanna Mack (Producer/Director) & Mike Fox (Co-Director)

Lost Children of the Empire looks at the fate of some of the 150,000 British orphans, who – often without their parents’ knowledge and consent – were shipped abroad to be brought up in children’s homes. Some were exploited and many were abused. This practice began at the turn of the century, but children were still deported overseas up until 1967! Joanna Mack produced and directed this ground breaking documentary, uncovering the story of child migration from the UK under which children as young a three were shipped to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the former Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The film’s broadcast in the UK and Australia, and the subsequent book of the same name, helped secure the foundation of the Child Migrants Trust and their work supporting families separated by these practices. Two decades later it led to official apologies from the Australian and UK governments. In 1991 the programme won the Silver Hugo Award for Documentary at the 26th Chicago International Film Festival. It has also won a gold medal at the International film and Television Festival of New York. Joanna Mack also produced and directed the first of the Breadline Britain series in 1983 and was the series editor for the second series Breadline Britain in the 1990s.

THE LEAVING OF LIVERPOOL (John Alsop, Sue Smith, Penny Chapman)

The Leaving of Liverpool, a television program produced by BBC in 1992, is a dramatized account of unaccompanied child migration from Britain to Australia. It was screened in Britain and in Australia and was mentioned in parliamentary inquiries in both countries .It had a significant impact in putting child migration ‘on the map’ in terms of awareness among the general population and those people who had been sent to Western Australia as child migrants. The program is based on the book Lost Children of the Empire and the writers of the program are John Alsop and Sue Smith, who were offered development funds to research the story in the UK by Penny Chapman (BBC).

It is the story of two young children caught up in the British child migration schemes of the 1950s. Lily (Christine Tremarco) and Bert (Kevin Jones), are deported from an orphanage in Liverpool (Britain) to Australia, where their childhoods are stolen from them in ‘institutions of care’ where they are exploited and abused by those whose responsibility is to take care of them. Their love for each other and extraordinary strength of character enables them to break out of the dehumanising world into which they have been thrown.

(Can be viewed on You Tube)

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Illustrated books for children

Only some of the many illustrated books available about adoption, foster care, love and kindness, loss of a loved one, abuse, trauma and bullying for (young) children

Rosie’s Family An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove (author) and Heather Burril (illustrator)   Rosie is a beagle who was adopted by schnauzers. She feels different from the rest of her family and her brother, who is the biological child. A story about belonging in a family, regardless of differences, which deals with questions children who are adopted, may have.

Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live with their Parents by Janice Levy (author) and Whitney Martin (illustrator)                                      A story about resilience, hope, disappointment, love, sadness, and anger for children who are in foster care.

Maybe Days written by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright and illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis deals with the issues of foster care, the children’s questions and feelings.

Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman (author) and Kathy O’Malley (illustrator)                 This story follows a cute puppy through his placement in three new homes, as well as through his anxiety, self-doubt, and hope for a new, loving family.

I Love You like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis (author) and Jane Dyer (illustrator) This beautifully illustrated book is about a woman who travels to China to adopt a baby girl, based on the author’s own experience and is a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the home

Shaoey & Dot: Bug Meets Bundle is a tale told from the point of view of a little ladybug, Dot, who finds a mysterious bundle one day. Dot stays with the little bundle as she is carried to the place “where babies come to be found” and promises to stay with the little child throughout her journeys toward getting a family. This tale is written by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth, and was inspired by the story of their adoption of three little girls from China.

A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kaza – Choco was a little bird, who lived all alone. He wished he had a mother, but who could be his mother? One day he set off to find her.

Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Freedman (author) and Roger Roth (illustrator)                A story of a child’s quest to come to terms with her adopted past. It also presents writing opportunities for students to explore who they are and how their roots have an impact on their lives.

The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story by Ann Braff Brodzinsky (author) and Angela Marchetti (illustrator)  Α beautifully illustrated book, written from the perspective that a birth mother might want to parent her child, but the insurmountable pressures against her might make this impossible. Mother Bird tries to bring up her baby bird against all odds. When a storm scatters her nest, she is forced to think about how best to care for her baby bird, and faces the heart-breaking choice of either continuing to struggle on her own, or giving her baby to another family of birds, to look after him and care for him in their strong, secure nest.

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin                  ‘There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible red thread connects all those who are destined to be together’

Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept by Jayneen Sanders (author) and Craig Smith (illustrator) A beautifully illustrated picture book that broaches the subject of keeping children safe from inappropriate touch. A book that teaches ‘body safety’ to children in a way that is neither frightening nor confronting.

Please Tell: A Child’s Story about Sexual Abuse by Jessie (author)                                         Written and illustrated by Jessie, a young girl who was sexually molested

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes and Sasha Mudlaff (authors) and Cary Pillo (illustrator)     A child’s self-help book for children who have experienced trauma. It is about how sometimes we try to hide from the scary feelings created by trauma and how we may feel nervous and have bad dreams or act out because of our trying to suppress those feelings.

Healing Days: A guide for kids who have experienced trauma by Susan Farber Strauss (author) and Maria Bogade (illustrator)   A resource that helps children who have experienced trauma. It teaches kids about fight, flight or freeze responses to trauma and it acknowledges the painful feelings that result from trauma, and also, offers specific strategies for coping and recovery.

The Right Touch: A Read Aloud Story to Help Prevent Sexual Abuse by Sandy Kleven (writer) and Jody Bergsma (author) suitable to read aloud to children

Your Body Belongs to You by Cornelia Maude Spelman (author) and Teri Weidner (illustrator)  In reassuring language, the author explains that a child’s body is his or her own and that it is all right for kids to decline a friendly hug or kiss.  Cornelia Spelman has also written a series of little books for children about emotions

My Body Belongs to Me: A Book about Safety by Jill Starishevsky (author) and Angela Padron (illustrator)   This book offers parents, teachers and counselors a tool that  they can use to help children feel and stay safe because without being taught about body boundaries, a child may be too young to understand when abuse is happening—or that it’s wrong. The rhyming story and illustrations provide a way to sensitively discuss the topic, guiding young children to understand that their private parts belong to them alone.

My Body is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard (author) and Rodney Pete (illustrator)   The book presents a conversation between a mother and her daughter. Important issues are discussed in a non-frightening yet serious manner and without providing too much detail about what can happen during a sexual abuse encounter. Privacy is defined and several examples are given so that young children can understand.

I Said NO! A kid to kid guide to keeping your private parts private         by Kimberly King (author) and Sue Rama (author and illustrator)                               I Said No is written from a kid’s point of view to help children set healthy boundaries for their private parts. To help Zack cope with a real-life experience he had with a friend, he and his mom wrote a book to help prepare other kids to deal with a range of problematic situations.

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie (author) and Robert Ingpen (illustrator)                                                        It is a moving book for children of all ages and parents/ adults. It can help us explain life and death of a relative, a friend, or a pet, in a sensitive, caring, beautiful way. It tells us about beginnings and about endings and about living in between. It has beautiful illustrations and it talks about plants, animals and people.

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley (author and illustrator)                  This book is a touching look at death, and how life goes on with wonderful artwork and marvelous characters. Badger’s friends are saddened by his passing, but they come to realize that everyone lives on through their gifts of kindness and the happy memories that remain.

Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Cliffton (author) and Ann Grifalconi (illustrator)   This book is written in simple rhyme for a young child who has lost a parent and it goes through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and  acceptance). As the last stage of grief is acceptance, the book ends with “and no matter what happens when people die, love doesn’t stop and neither will I.” The illustrations of this young African American boy and his mother are lovely charcoal line drawings.

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy (authors) and Kim Shaw (illustrator)            In this book the kids at Pete’s new school get involved, instead of being bystanders when they witness a bully in action

These three books below tell the story of an ongoing case of bullying from three third graders’ perspectives. Luisa describes being targeted by bullying in Weird!, Jayla shares her experience as a bystander to bullying in Dare! And in Tough!, Sam speaks from the point of view of someone initiating bullying.

Dare!: A Story about Standing Up to Bullying in Schools by Erin Frankel (author) and Paula Heaphy (illustrator)

Tough!: A Story about How to Stop Bullying in Schools by Erin Frankel (author) and Paula Heaphy (illustrator)

Weird!: A Story about Dealing with Bullying in Schools by Erin Frankel (author) and Paula Heaphy (illustrator)

Chocolate Me! by good friends Taye Diggs (author) and Shane W. Evans (illustrator) A  picture book based on experiences of feeling different and trying to fit in as kids, that encourages people, especially kids, to love themselves. The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

Chrysanthemum written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes is a funny school story about teasing, self-esteem and acceptance. Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect until her first day of school…..

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig (author) and Beth Adams (illustrator)   After Katie gets caught teasing a schoolmate, she’s told to meet the school counselor, so she can learn to be a better friend. Katie gradually realizes that bullying has hurt not only the people around her, but her, as well. Told from the point of view of the bully rather than the bullied, it provides children with tools they can use to identify and stop relational aggression. More suitable for older children and young teenagers

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (author) and Patrice Barton (illustrator)   This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and can allow them to flourish. The book sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children.  It includes discussion questions and resources for further reading. 

Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson (author) and Shelley Johannes (illustrator). Emily asks her big sister what the word empathy means, but she has no idea that knowing the answer will change how she looks at people. Empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Empathy leads to the social skills and personal relationships which make our lives rich and beautiful, and it is something we can help our children learn.

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman because love is the greatest gift we have to give to our children

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Carol McCloud (author) and David Messing (illustrator) and ……..

Fill a bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin (authors) and David Messing (illustrator)

Both two books give children the idea that being kind and loving is important to their own happiness.

Will You Fill My Bucket? by Carol McCloud and Karen Wells (authors) and Penny Weber (illustrator) A question asked by children from twelve different countries. An award-winning picture book with sweet rhyming prose, repetition, and vividly captivating illustrations delight the senses and express the joy and love we hope for all children. ‘Bucket filling, the essence of being loved and loving others, occurs in those little moments in a day when you stop and just listen, cuddle, play, or spend time with a child’.