Youth Book Corner: Young Activists

The theme of this year’s International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (May 29) is “the road to a lasting peace: leveraging the power of youth for peace and security.” This theme recognizes the role young peacekeepers play in helping the UN carry out their missions across the world. With this in mind, this week’s book recommendations by our Outreach Coordinator, Leena Desai, celebrate the invaluable work done by young peacekeepers and activists.

I Have the Right to Be a Child
Written by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty

In this beautiful picture book, with watercolour illustrations that look like tapestries, a young child tells us what it means to have rights: the right to food, water, and shelter and the right to go to school, to be free from violence, to breathe clean air, and more. The rights mentioned in the book come from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989, and pertain to all children irrespective of their race or economic status. I Have the Right to Be a Child is the first book in a series that champions children’s rights and acknowledges their agency. The second book, I Have the Right to Save My Planet, which released in spring this year, shows children being proactive and vocal about climate change and environmental awareness. Grades K-2

Generation Hope: You(th) Can Make a Difference!
Written by Kimberlie Hamilton, illustrated by Risa Rodil

Kids were a big part of the climate strikes that were organized around the world in 2019, and they served to remind us how much energy, enthusiasm, and will kids have to make a change and a real difference in the world. This book celebrates the power of youth; each chapter revolves around a global issue or cause, like accessibility to drinking water or animal welfare and highlights young activists such as Greta Thunberg and Anishinaabe water warrior Autumn Peltier who have been working towards raising awareness about issues. In addition to this, each chapter is packed with tips about the steps we can take to reduce our negative impact on the world and help the work that is already being done. The use of a bright colour palette and information that is presented in a bite-sized, easy-to-read way make this book a very handy resource to get children interested in discussing tough subjects. Grades 3-7

Child Soldier
Written by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Child Soldier is an autobiographical graphic novel, which conveys a lot through simple words and moving illustrations. The titular child soldier is the author, Michel Chikwanine, who was abducted from his school when he was five years old in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Chikwanine made a miraculous escape and returned to his family but he was a changed person. After immigrating to Canada, Chikwanine told his story to the students at his new school to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world. The subject of this book is obviously unsettling, but Chikwanine focuses on the humanity and courage of young boys like him in war-torn regions of the world. This book is a great tool for social studies lessons on global awareness and social justice issues and to start a discussion about children’s rights, conflict, and war. Grades 5-9


Leena Desai