‘‘The Soldiers Came to the House’’: Young Children’s Responses to The Colour of Home

Hope, Julia. 2018. ‘‘The Soldiers Came to the House’’: Young Children’s Responses to The Colour of Home. Children's Literature in Education, 49(3), pp. 302-323. ISSN 0045-6713 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article begins by reflecting on the present refugee crisis and its relevance to children in the UK. It identifies the need for teaching about the refugee experience to young children and argues that literature can provide a conduit for this. Sincethemillenniumtherehasbeenarapidincreaseinthenumberofbookspublished forchildren whichtake thisastheir theme, aimed atever-youngerreaders.Takingasa case study The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman, a picturebook commonly used in lower primary classrooms, the article considers how this text promotes understanding and validates the circumstances of refugees. It closely examines the motivations and aims of the writer, how the book was mediated by teachers in the primary classroom, and how refugee and non-refugee children read and responded to it. Findings are presented from an interview with Mary Hoffman herself, juxtaposed with data from threeclassroomssuggestingthatpupilsgainedvaluableinsightintoacomplicatedand controversial issue. However the research concludes that viewing children through a refugee/non-refugee binary was reductive in not recognising the multi-layered nuances of meaning which were constructed by young readers who brought to bear a wide variety of individual life and family experiences. Furthermore, teachers in the study played a powerful role in mediating the texts when sharing them in the classroom, and devised a selection of stimulating resources to provoke reader response in terms of empathy, ‘‘social action’’, and some critical literacy.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


2 November 2016Accepted
23 November 2016Published Online
September 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2016 12:00

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:58

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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