Children's books zoom into the plight of people hit by fighting in Iraq and Syria

Syrian children at Al-Azraq refugee camp in Jordan heading to school.
Syrian children at Al-Azraq refugee camp in Jordan heading to school. PHOTO: RAHMATAN LIL AMIN FOUNDATION

NEW YORK (NYT) - Some of the most shocking images from the crisis in Syria have been photographs of children: the body of a drowned toddler lying on a Turkish beach; the expressionless five-year-old boy from Aleppo, shellshocked after being pulled from the rubble of a bombed building.

Now, a number of children's books authors are taking on the subject in fiction to humanise and personalise the ongoing conflict for young readers.

More than a dozen new and forthcoming titles feature young Muslim refugees as protagonists, ranging from picture books aimed at readers as young as four to a cluster of novels for middle and high school students that delve into the murkier aspects of the refugee crisis.

Some of the books touch on challenging issues like the rise of the Islamic State and the sectarian rift between Sunnis and Shias.

Suzanne Del Rizzo's picture book My Beautiful Birds is based on an article she read about a Syrian boy living in Jordan in a refugee camp who had tamed wild birds.

To research her young adult novel A Land Of Permanent Goodbyes, novelist Atia Abawi travelled to Greece, and spoke to Syrians in a refugee camp.

Those conversations helped shape her book, which centres on a Syrian family that escapes an ISIS stronghold for Istanbul and then Greece.

In Alan Gratz's middle-grade novel Refugee, a 12-year-old boy flees the violence in Aleppo after his family's home is destroyed, and has to contend with smugglers and militants as his family charts a treacherous course to Europe.

The wave of children's books about Muslim asylum seekers is arriving amid the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since World War II, as millions of civilians - many of them children - flee the wars and insurgencies in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Syrian civil war alone has uprooted more than two million children, according to Unicef.