Do you know that children have rights? In 1989, world leaders agreed on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. One-hundred-and-ninety-six countries follow these rules that give children the right to an education, the right to safety, the right to good health and the right to play. But sometimes these rights are violated and it needs an individual to stand up to help children get what they are entitled to. Luckily, child activists around the world are more than capable of fighting for what they deserve…
A richly rewarding and incredibly important book, Children Who Changed the World tells the stories of thirteen child activists who stood up for their own rights. Wise and determined beyond their years, these young superheroes have fought to better not only their own lives but those of children around the world. Such were the efforts of many of the activists, they have received the
International Children’s Peace Prize.
Whilst it would be fantastic to hear stories about all fifty-four rights, Marcia Williams has chosen to focus on just a few and I love the selection that includes protection from war, the basics, extra help, good care and free speech. Children from around the world feature as Williams tells stories from the Dominican Republic to the Phillipines to the Republic of Congo to the United Arab Emirates. All children need to have their childhood rights protected and the stories really do reflect the global community of children. Many will recognise the names of Malala Yousafzai and Mohamad Al Jounde and it is fascinating to learn about some lesser known activists including Francia Simon and Kesz Valdez.
Each story is special. Heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure, every reader will be amazed and inspired by these courageous and determined trail-blazers who constantly display conviction and ambition that belies their young age. Iqbal Masih was ten when he escaped a child labour factory and began campaigning to end chid labour. Aged fifteen, Mayra Avellar Neves began peacefully protesting to raise awareness of the dangers and problems in the favelas of Rio. Canadian Riley Hebbard was only four when he began donating toys to ensure children everywhere had the right to play.
Presented across double page spreads, Williams beings each story with an introduction to the activist with the main story told in comic style panels with accompanying text. This clever and engaging approach makes a complex issue accessible to children. Helpfully, each story follows a similar approach that begins with a problem and ends with a solution. Back-matter includes an additional eleven young activists whose stories are very briefly told, a simplified version of the fifty-four articles from the the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and information on international children’s rights organisations.
Children Who Changed the World is a great introduction to a very important topic. These stories need to be heard, the child activists need to be celebrated, and in making these young heroes household names other children will hopefully be motivated to follow in their inspirational footsteps and help to ensure that every child has their childhood rights met wherever they are in the world.
Recommended for 7+.