Healthy Kids YMCA Child Care

3 powerful picture books all about children’s rights

A preschool-aged boy sitting on a chair in a classroom reading a book

Each year on November 20th, communities across the globe unite in celebration of World Children’s Day. Conceived by the United Nations after adopting the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the day seeks to raise awareness about children’s rights. Equally important, World Children’s Day honours the unique culture of children, and gives them a global platform to have their voices heard on issues directly affecting them.

In support of World Children’s Day, here are three picture books that will help you get the conversation started about children’s rights in your home.

I Have the Right to Be a Child
By Alain Serres and Aur
élia Fronty

Simple yet informative, this picture book is the perfect introduction to teaching children’s rights. Based on the UNCRC, I Have the Right to Be a Child outlines several key rights from the convention in kid-friendly language. With its vibrant and whimsical full-page illustrations, the text does a wonderful job of representing each article in the treaty, making it easy for even preschoolers to understand what it means to be a child with rights.

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery
By Jeanette Winter 

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai and activist Iqbal Masih are two Pakistani youth who were unafraid to stand up for children’s freedoms. Although they fight for different causes — Malala, for a girl’s right to an education and Iqbal, for the abolishment of child slavery in the carpet trade — both of these remarkable young people’s stories teach young audiences that, by being an active participant in their own lives, they can make a difference in the world. Their riveting real-life tales of determination, courage, and triumph also show grown-ups the importance of being an ally to children, through the adult allies who empowered and supported Malala and Iqbal in being agents of change.

Shin-chi’s Canoe
By Nicola Campbell and Kim Lafave

This sequel to Campbell’s earlier book, Shi-shi-etko, provides a perspective on Canada’s residential school system from the viewpoint of its young Indigenous protagonist. Readers follow six-year-old Shin-chi as he leaves his family and the reservation behind to attend school far from his family and culture. There, he is given an English name and endures an endless cycle of school, work, mass, and meager meals that leave him hungry every night. Shin-chi’s Canoe effectively provides a window into this devastating chapter in Indigenous history, while informing children about their right to freedom of belief, preservation of language, and protection from neglect.

The YMCA supports the rights of all children and is committed to fostering and sustaining a positive, inclusive classroom environment in which they are encouraged, valued, and heard. Our play-based curricula, YMCA Playing to Learn and YMCA A Place to Connect, are situated in a child-centred learning framework that gives children the opportunity to be active participants in their own education and development.