How to help new kids settle in at school

Author Cathy Cassidy writes about kids that have been displaced in her stories – here she tells you how you can try to help newbies settle in too.

Cathy Cassidy

I write books about kids in real-life situations, books that look at feelings and family and friendship and how we cope when things go pear-shaped. My book, Sami's Silver Lining, is perhaps more gritty and dramatic than the books I've written before, dealing as it does with the story of a lone refugee boy and his struggle to settle in Britain. Although Sami's story is dramatic and emotional, it's heart-warming and hopeful too. He really does manage to find a silver lining, against all the odds.


Imagine what it might feel like to have to leave your home, to travel far from the place you knew best, to be shipwrecked, separated from your family and left to complete your journey alone... Sami faces danger, heartbreak and despair. By the time he finally reaches safety in Britain, Sami has put his feelings in the deep freeze, until his musical talent wins him a place in a cool new band called the Lost & Found. As Sami slowly makes friends with the rest of the band, his ice-block heart begins to thaw. He finds himself looking forward to a brighter future, and a plot twist near the end delivers a shock happy ending beyond his wildest dream

In Sami's Silver Lining, you go through these challenges along with Sami; and you start to understand what it might be like to be a child refugee. Sami's world opens up because of the new friendships he makes. Perhaps YOU could offer a hand of friendship to kids in Sami's situation, too? In every school across the UK and beyond, there are kids who've had a rough time; perhaps they are child refugees who've escaped a war-torn homeland, like Sami, or kids from overseas struggling to settle in and make sense of life here. Or perhaps they're just kids going through difficult things at home; a family split, a parent's job loss, an illness, a bereavement. At times like these, we need friends more than ever.

I guess that if my book has a message, it's that we should always do our best to reach out the hand of friendship to others. We may not know what their story is, or what's going on behind the scenes, but if they know that somebody cares and will be there for them, it could make all the difference. Wouldn't you want someone to do the same if you were feeling lost and alone? I know I would...

When you open up a book, you get two stories for the price of one: the one the author wrote, and the one your imagination writes, because as a reader, you're adding colour and detail and drama to whatever story you choose. You do it naturally because you have an amazing imagination - yes, really - and with your help, the book comes to life. That's a kind of magic when you think about it, and one of the reasons I love being an author so much! 


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