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Parents' Guide to

The Boy at the Back of the Class

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Poignant, adventurous refugee story highlights kid activism.

The Boy at the Back of the Class Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 1 parent review

age 8+

Eye opening and heartwarming.

I found reading this book with my nine-year-old daughter a wonderful shared experience. In a world filled with discrimination this book challenges your thought processes and highlights that we are all equipped with unconscious bias. A truly heartwarming book that helps engage children in conversation about how we can all make a difference and how we should all do what we can to promote equality.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (4 ):

A lively plot enriches a story of a refugee kid who's come to England without his parents. The kids in The Boy in the Back of the Class take their friend's plight very seriously when they concoct a plan to help re-connect him with his lost parents. The resulting madcap scenario is steeped in serious business, and it's an overall enjoyable, informative read. The brash opinions of the adult world are almost always filtered though the insightful explanations of caring adults. In fact, the network of adults that cares about these kids is ever-present, which makes the adventurous risk-taking in the book feel cushioned.

However, there's a disconnect between the political realities surrounding these 9- and 10-year-olds and what they actually understand about the world. The narrator -- whose gender and name are not revealed until the end of the book, making the case for the universal every-kid -- has been incredibly sheltered in unusual ways. For example, the narrator doesn't know that their family has a refugee story a generation back. Nor has the narrator heard of World War II, which seems pretty unrealistic for a kid living in modern-day London. Perhaps if the characters in the book has been portrayed as younger, the naiivite would make more sense. Nevertheless, this engaging book can serve as a resource for readers who want to learn more about the global refugee crisis without being flattened by the weight of the world.

Book Details

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