I Have the Right to Be a Child
Selected for the IRA Notable Books for a Global Society List, selected for the Children's Literary Assembly 2013 Notable Children's Books and the USBBY Outstanding International Book List
With a very simple text accompanied by rich, vibrant illustrations a young narrator describes what it means to be a child with rights -- from the right to food, water and shelter, to the right to go to school, to be free from violence, to breathe clean air, and more. The book emphasizes that these rights belong to every child on the planet, whether they are "black or white, small or big, rich or poor, born here or somewhere else." It also makes evident that knowing and talking about these rights are the first steps toward making sure that they are respected.
A brief afterword explains that the rights outlined in the book come from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. The treaty sets out the basic human rights that belong to children all over the world, recognizing that children need special protection since they are more vulnerable than adults. It has been ratified by 193 states, with the exception of Somalia, the United States and the new country of South Sudan. Once a state has ratified the document, they are legally bound to comply with it and to report on their efforts to do so. As a result, some progress has been made, not only in awareness of children's rights, but also in their implementation. But there are still many countries, wealthy and poor, where children's basic needs are not being met.