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The Boy At the Back of the Class

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  4,038 ratings  ·  582 reviews
Told with humor and heart, 'THE BOY AT THE BACK OF THE CLASS' offers a child's perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn't always make sense.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He's eight years old (just like me), but he's very strange.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Hachette Children's Group
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This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Yanaba Not directly, but as there's a listing at the end about the rest of his family, you can concluded that it should be "Saqqal"

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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  4,038 ratings  ·  582 reviews

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Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very topical novel, which addresses some difficult issues in a way which will help children understand them. With the refugee crisis a virtually nightly news story and many adults, and world leaders, showing low levels of tolerance; this shows the resilience of children to make up their own minds about things.

It begins, as the first chapter says, with an empty chair. It is the beginning of a new term and there is one spare place in the class – which is soon to be taken by a new boy; A
Mira Lee
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My 8 year-old son enjoyed this book so much that he wanted to write a review. To be honest, I was surprised when he picked it up at the bookstore and started reading - he usually prefers graphic novels or sillier books like Captain Underpants or HiLo. But he didn’t want to put this book down and pleaded with me to buy it. When I read the description, I couldn’t say no. Here is his review:

"I really liked this book because I never read a book about refugees before so that was new to me. I really l
HP Saucerer
A warm, eloquent and thought-provoking story, beautifully told through the eyes of a child. Not since RJ Palacio’s Wonder has there been a book filled with as much hope. I was taken on such an emotional journey with this story, but then Rauf’s characters are so compelling, I was left with little choice. The last few chapters left me completely choked with my heart clenched and blinking away tears. If you’re looking for a book to restore your faith in humanity, call off the search, and find refug ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. Like ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ this should be compulsory reading - for all ages. Stripping everything back to seeing events through the eyes of children is the perfect tool here. This highlights how much simplicity and humanity is missing in dealing with, in this case, refugee children, and also serves as an unpleasant reminder of how much humanity is lost through bureaucracy, politics, and growing up. But it’s also full of positivity and warmth, a fantastic achievement. D ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am so in love with this story. After I finished, it left huge smile on my face and my heart little bit bigger.

Everything changes for a group of nine year olds, when new boy comes to their class. As they find out later, Ahmet is Syrian refugee with heart-breaking experiences. They try to befriend him and help him as much as they can. And whoa, their adventures will become legendary.

It is such a nice and heartwarming story told from a perspective of 9 and 3/4 year old girl talking about very i
One day the chair in the back of the class is filled by a boy, Ahmet, and our MC decides to become friends.

I had this book in Dutch a few months, maybe longer, but couldn't get into it. Thankfully, one of the libraries finally added it in English to their collection. Of course I had to bring it home to see if this time I could read it. And well, I loved it. It was a beautiful written book with a very likeable character.

I just adored how our MC immediately decided to become friends with Ahmet an
Laura Gardner
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I sobbed through the last 20 pages of this #mglit book about four elementary kids opening their hearts to a new student in their class. I love how kids are so good at cutting through politics to get to the heart of an issue. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this beautiful story by #onjaliqrauf ; this would make a wonderful read aloud!
Ahmet is a refugee from Syria who has been separated from his family. He speaks Kurdish, but not English and some kids (and one teacher) in school are making him feel unwelcom
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aoc, contemporary, mg, poc-mc
I don't know what I expected going into this book, but it wasn't this! The Boy At The Back Of The Class is maybe one of the best middle grade novels I've ever read. It's charming and sweet, and honest and nuanced in how it portrays the refugee crisis and everything surrounding it. It's such a layered book written with so much skill and delicacy, I'm honestly blown away. I highly recommend reading this for everyone.
Jasmin Davis
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
It is interesting because I have read other reviews and descriptions of this book they label Ahmet as the main character and even though this book is a story about him, it was told through Tom his friend.

The book starts off with there being an empty seat at the back of the classroom and the main character Tom tells about all the children in his class. Then one day a child was in the empty seat at the back of the classroom with a red rucksack. Throughout the book we’re trying to figure out who th
When I was in the fourth grade, a new girl came to our class, a refugee from Lebanon. We didn’t understand quite what that meant, when we were first told, just as Alexa and her friends don’t quite understand either.

I remember asking her, when we were a little older, if she was happy living in the states, where there was no war. She told me that if the war ever stopped, she and her family would return, because that was their home, and they missed it.

I lost touch with her, but in my life, I met
Joanne Schofield
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My 9yo twins kindly got given copies of this book from school, to read during lockdown. I thought I’d read it alongside them, so I could ask them questions about it.

It’s the story of a group of school kids who are intrigued when they meet Ahmet, a new boy, who is also a refugee. These school kids have no idea what a refugee even is, and when they learn more about Ahmet’s story they are determined to help him.

Now, my 9yo daughter is a strong reader so I knew she could handle this book. I wasn’t s
Unfortunately I have had to remove my rating for this book as I cannot continue to support a transphobic and ableist author: ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
It was so boring I nearly got to the point were I was just going to give up trying to find the problem. That's another thing out of 300 pages you would expect the problem to be on about page 50-100 but no it was on about page 200 and was so unrealistic. What is the point in having a whole 200 pages on just life at school with a refugee? There were more pages of just odd life than the problem.👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎
Sophie Anderson
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heart-warming, empathy-building, and page-turning! I read this with my 12 yo & 9 yo and we all adored it. Deserves to be read far and wide! ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful - every child (and adult) in the country should read this book - it is so incredibly important! This novel really cleverly tells the story from the point of view of 9 year old Alexa - and explains some very difficult issues perfectly for all to understand and shows how innocent eyes sometimes see the world better than tired adult eyes. There are so many important lessons in this book. Please read this book - whatever your age because it is simply wonderful.
Jessikah Hope
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, middle-grade
Fantastic middle grade focusing on refugees with plenty of facts mixed in with some humour. An absolute stunner.
Sophie Snowden
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This book tells a truly wonderful story of a 9 year old boy, who makes friends with a new refugee boy in his class, Ahmet. It tells a beautiful story of how Alexa, whose name we discover in the very last pages of this story, and his/her friends try to help Ahmet find his family again. At first they have trouble making friends with him because he can't speak much English, but once they find ways to communicate, through the giving of sweet, the drawing of fruits and then through the translator who ...more
Dee Dee G
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot of adults should read this book.
Emma Reads
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every single word in this novel was so thought out. You could just tell that the author was being very intentional with her writing. This story made me laugh at times; and made me cry at times. It was a very beautiful story about what true friendship and compassion is.
Katy Noyes
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tear-jerking KS2/3 refugee story that deserves a wide readership.

We are in need of as much compassion in the world right now as we can get. We all need to be able to see the bigger picture, see the world from the eyes and situations of others... and this is as true for children as for adults. Here is a book that doesn't whitewash some fairly upsetting details but combines them with a beautifully charming story of innocence and hope.

Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is
Nicky Hill
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The sentiment behind this book and the reason for writing it make it very worth reading. The author donates part of her royalties to helping refugees.

Its a thought provoking story told in a funny way about a refugee boy called Ahmet who comes to live and go to school in London after fleeing from Syria. He encounters acts of tremendous friendship but also has to deal with unkindness and prejudice.

The story is quite well written for getting the underlying message across although I felt the last q
Robin Stevens
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A warm, sweet and hugely empathetic story about children from a London school fighting to help their refugee friend. It's gently adventurous and funny and it will make you sob at the end. One of the best things I've read about the refugee crisis. (8+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Alex  Baugh
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's three weeks after the beginning of a new school year and suddenly there's a new boy named Ahmet sitting in what had up until then been an empty seat. But while he may be a student in Mrs. Khan's class, he doesn't ever participate, nor does he go to lunch or out into the schoolyard with the other kids. No one knows where he goes during lunch break, so naturally all kinds of wild rumors abound. And although the narrator Alexa, age 9, keeps making friendly overtures to Ahmet, it is to no avail ...more
Alex  Baugh
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's three weeks after the beginning of a new school year and suddenly there's a new boy named Ahmet sitting in what had up until then been an empty seat. But while he may be a student in Mrs. Khan's class, he doesn't ever participate, nor does he go to lunch or out into the schoolyard with the other kids. No one knows where he goes during lunch break, so naturally all kinds of wild rumors abound. And although the narrator Alexa, age 9, keeps making friendly overtures to Ahmet, it is to no avail ...more
Sarah Gerard
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
An interesting perspective on how we treat and perceive others who are ‘different’ to us. The text is a nice introduction into teaching children about refugees and their lives. Whilst it doesn’t go into details, it touches upon events such as travelling away from family, living without family and horrendous living conditions that refugees face. The author writes exceptionally well, in a way that emotionally hooks the reader.

I think this is a particularly useful text to teach the concept of char
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 Stars!

The Boy at the Back of the Class follows a group of third grade friends who becomes friends with the new kid in class named Ahmet. Ahmet is a refugee from Syria who attends a new school without being able to speak any English and he is befriended by a group of friends from class. They give him fruit, pictures, play with him at recess, and even help against Brendan the school bully. Once Ahmet learns a bit of English, he’s able to tell them that he was separated from his family and th
Natasha (jouljet)
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc, refugees
A new kid joins the class a few weeks into term. Initially, he doesn't talk or look at anyone, and during break times he is nowhere to be found. But as our storyteller and friends decide to be his friend, giving him sweets, inviting him to plsy football, and they discover more about him, there is so much to know and learn.

Ahmet is a refugee, who has traveled to London and has lost his family on the way. As he learns English, he manages to tell parts of his story, and his new best friends want de
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A very worth winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Definitely one that I’ll be recommending to children and adults both. Many tears were shed while I read this - happy and sad ones. Tackles the refugee crisis in a way that children will understand, but I also think it’s so important to see the issues from the eyes of a child. They’re so less concerned with the differences between us than what connects us as human beings - kindness, friendship, family, love. Just a lovely, inspiring, w ...more
Jun 03, 2020 rated it liked it
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 ok stars

I read this with my 11 year old son, who’s views are included in this review.

Things we liked; not knowing the main character’s name, learning about refugees and discrimination.

Things we liked less; they seemed older than 9 years old in the way they talked, acted and travelled alone so much (to school, London) and the overly happy ending was too cheesy apparently.

I think the book dealt with refugees in a great child friendly way, it wasn’t overly upsetting, and handled discrimi
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly beautiful story about a four 9 year old children who want to help their friend Ahmet, who is a refugee child, become reunited with this family who he lost during his journey to the U.K.

The book teaches us about friendship and perseverance. It also raises the awareness about the tragedies that happened in Syria and teaches children about countries in war and the effects in can have on families and people’s lives.
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Onjali Q. Rauf is the founder of Making Herstory, an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. In her spare time she delivers emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk, and supports interfaith projects.

Her first novel, The Boy at the Back of the Class, has sold

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