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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
I Have the Right to be a Child
by Alain Serres
Age Range: 6-8
Creating a picture book on the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child could be considered a challenge, but it is one that French author Alain Serres has risen to with aplomb. Written by the UN in 1989, the Convention comprises of 54 articles that has since been ratified by 193 countries around the world. Despite the complex subject matter, Serres has deftly managed to put these articles into accessible language that children can understand.
The text adopts the format of a question – “Do I have the right to discover what makes a true friend?” or “Why does any child have to experience weapons of war?” Set in this way it encourages children to think about what the questions might mean. Translated from the French in clear, straightforward language by award-winning translator Sarah Ardizzone, a range of topics is covered that include: family, food and water, health, housing, poverty, education, gender, race, disability, citizenship, environment, war and freedom of speech.
Each double-page spread illustration by Aurélia Fronty has an almost child-like quality with their glorious mix of rich, vibrant colours. The images clearly clarify the message of the text - “Can I rely on grown-ups for shelter from disasters and bad experiences raining down on me?” is accompanied by three children sheltering under a large umbrella from the rain; “Do I have the right to Express Myself Freely?” is accompanied by a child holding a large sheet of paper with a jumble of letters from the alphabet. Children from different countries and cultures are also indicated in the narrative of the pictures.
Endorsed by Amnesty International UK, this is an ideal multi-layered teaching resource as well as a book that can be used at home too. It will encourage discussion about what it means for children to have rights in the world today. I have the Right to be a Child is a truly unique book that should have pride of place on any bookshelf.