Introducing Boy Overboard

Finding novels for small groups or whole classes to read can be a difficult exercise. Here I'd like to introduce a classroom favourite - a Morris Gleitzman book which tackles a difficult topic with a little side of humour.


Boy Overboard is the story of Jamal, a football (soccer) mad boy who lives in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. After his family fall in trouble with the Taliban, they are forced to flee - first to a refugee camp and then around the world. They're aiming to get to Australia - where Jamal hopes he and his sister will become famous football stars who will be able to return to Afghanistan as heroes one day.

Although this book deals with the refugee crisis while the Taliban was controlling most of Afghanistan, elements of this book apply to refugee situations across the world and across different times. No one in Jamal's family are happy to leave their home and they sacrifice many things to find safety and peace. People take advantage of them and other refugees along the way. And governments make decisions which can be hard to understand - especially when we get to know the individuals involved.

This is truly a great classroom read, either as a read aloud, for a whole class read or for small group work. The characters are interesting and worth exploring, the events of the story allow for exploration, the choices of the author can be discussed. It tackles a serious topic, but maintains the soft humour Morris Gleitzman is well known for.

Interested in Teaching Boy Overboard?

You can find the Boy Overboard Sample Pack here -  this free resource gives you activities you can use in your classroom and an introduction to the other Boy Overboard resources available at the Galarious Goods shop.

Other resources available include: