JN Junior: Making refugees feel welcome and good news for Barbie!

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JN Junior: Making refugees feel welcome and good news for Barbie!

Welcoming refugees, Barbie in space, Madonna's book inspired by a Jewish tale and five things to do in October – all in this month's feature for younger readers, with PJ Library

The Big Question:

What do you think schools could do  to make Afghan refugees feel as  welcome as possible?

Genius Jenna says: Armed militants known as the Taliban have retaken control of Afghanistan after 20 years.

In between, soldiers from the UK, US and other nations stayed in the central Asian country to try to make peace, but over the past few months, the Taliban have taken over again.

They have very strict rules and last time when they ruled, didn’t let girls go to school or women to work. They also support horrible acts of violence. Afghans have been trying to escape to safer countries, such as the UK.

Around 15,000 people have now arrived here, many of them children without their parents. Known as refugees, these children will have to start new schools and make new friends. 

Rafi Bibring, age 10, from Mill Hill says:

Rafi Bibring

I know how important it is to make refugees feel welcome because my great-grandpa, Harry Bibring, was a child refugee from Nazi Austria. 
I think that starting a new school as a refugee must be very frightening.  Refugees come to the country with nothing and may not be able to speak any English. 

Schools could set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for the Afghan refugees and parents could also donate supplies, such as blankets, clothes, books and toys.

If refugee children started at my school, we could help them feel welcome by playing games like football, where you don’t need to speak English. We could also make signs in their language and try to learn about their culture.

Good news for… Barbie!

The much-loved doll is literally floating on air after teaming up with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its only European female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to celebrate Space Week.

Running until Sunday, it aims to encourage young girls to pursue a career in space, science, technology, engineering and maths.

The special edition Barbie, created to look like Samantha, jetted off from Germany’s ESA space base and travelled on a Zero-gravity flight just like real-life astronauts.

Barbie teams up with ESA and astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti for space week


Madge expresses herself

Madonna (yes that  one) is the author of a children’s title chosen by PJ Library for its book of the month, which has been inspired by a 300-year-old Jewish tale.

The famous singer wrote Mr Peabody’s Apples to show the power of words and danger of lashon hara – speaking unkindly about someone. It was published in 2003, but PJ Library will this month send out copies to five and six-year-olds. 

Madonna and Mr Peabody’s Apples

At the end of the book, Madonna explains that she was inspired by a 300-year-old moral by mystal rabbi the Baal Shem Tov, which she heard from her Kabbalah teacher about how we must choose words carefully to avoid causing harm to others. 

Madelyn Travis, chair of the PJ Library UK book selection committee, says: “We are delighted to welcome Madonna into the PJ Library family with her lovely, nostalgic book. Of course, parents are the ones who will be most charmed – or amused – by who the author is. Kids will just enjoy the book!”


Five things to enjoy this month:

1 Tsitsit: The Jewish Fringe Festival

PJ Library is hosting half-term story, music, performance and comedy workshops for five to nine-year-olds across the UK, including Jewish Museum London on 28 October



2 London Transport Museum

Kids go free 23 to 31 October! Explore how London’s public transport system has changed over the past 200 years.



3 The Amazing Bubble Man

Pop-tastic! Louis Pearl is coming to the Radlett Centre with his show combining comedy, artistry and audience participation twice-daily on 29 October.


Bubble man!

4 Pippi Longstocking

Sofie Miller introduces ‘the strongest girl in the world’ to youngsters at the artsdepot to mark the 75th birthday of Astrid Lindgren’s much-loved character on Sunday.



5 Infinite Jest 

Head to JW3 for a race through space immersive theatre performance for all the family. The child-led adventure lets the audience take centre-stage, on 17 October,


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