Exploring Immigration using Shaun Tan’s Graphic Novel ‘The Arrival’

Shaun Tan’s graphic novel, ‘The Arrival’, explores issues around immigration and could be a useful tool for explaining and discussing the current migrant situation to children.

This wordless picture book invites readers to explore a strange new world in the company of a migrant who must leave his family and everything he’s ever known to make the long and difficult journey to another land.

Here, everything is different: language, buildings, customs, food – even the pets seem alien. Seeing this world through the traveller’s eyes, we are as confused as he is. But the city’s inhabitants have their own stories to tell and everyone helps out. By the time our traveller’s family is able to join him, we know that they’ll be happy in this new place .

The Arrival deals with some pretty big questions and is far from being a childish story. It appeals strongly to upper primary children, who often respond with startling insight and maturity to its themes. By its nature, the book invites a slow and thoughtful exploration – the lack of words being a stimulus for the reader to create multiple layers of stories and meanings. But children come to The Arrival with fresh minds and eyes, and find the things that matter most to them. It’s a book that inspires responses and opinions, and as such is the perfect starting point for creative work as well as discussion and debate.

Lesson ideas can be found on:



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