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Human Rights Book List
For Young Readers

A Drop Around the World by Barbara Shaw McKinney and Michael S. Maydak, California: Dawn Publications, 1998.

  • Excellent book on the magic of nature’s water cycle
  • Poetic presentation integrates Language Arts and Science in a creative way
  • Interactive dramatizations by pairing actions with a sound effect
  • With each water property students reenact drops
  • Recommended for ages four to eight year-olds

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold and J. Davis,  Dragonfly Books, 1995.

  • Characters fly in a fantastical sky train run by Harriet Tubman
  • Traces a route on the Underground Railroad

Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain
Bullies are mean. Bullies are scary. Bullies are a pain in the brain—and every child needs to know what to do when confronted by one. This book blends humor with serious, practical suggestions for coping with bullies. Trevor Romain reassures kids that they're not alone and it's not their fault if a bully decides to pick on them. He explains that some people are bullies and describes realistic ways to become "Bully-Proof," stop bullies from hurting others, and to get help in dangerous situations. If kids who bully others happen to read this book, they'll find ideas they can use to get along with others and feel good about themselves—without harming others. Most appropriate for ages 8-13.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's House by Faith Ringgold, Hyperion, 1996.
For Melody the best thing about summertime was going to family dinners at Aunt Connie and Uncle Bate's big house on the beach. This summer, Aunt Connie, an artist, has several surprises for the family. One is that she and Uncle Bates have adopted a son, Lonnie, whose green eyes and red hair instantly captivated Melody. While Melody and Lonnie are playing hide-and-seek, they hear strange voices coming from the attic, and there they find Aunt Connie's other surprise. She has painted twelve beautiful portraits of famous African-American women--and the paintings can speak! Melody and Lonnie are at first amazed but are soon profoundly inspired as the women talk to them about their courageous lives. Faith Ringgold's powerful story and vibrant art underscore the magic of this special moment in Melody's and Lonnie's life as they discover in a new way how proud they are to be African Americans. Ages 4-8

Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox, Voyager Books, 2000.

  • Illustrates the destruction caused by lack of respect for differences

For Every Child: The Rights of the Child in Word and Pictures Forward by Desmond Tutu

  • Adapted version of Convention on the Rights of the Child

I Dream of Peace: Images of War by Children of Former Yugoslavia by James P. Grant and Maurice Sendak, Harpercollins, 1994.

  • Drawings, poems and other writing of children traumatized by war
  • Gives real accounts of tragedies of Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, and other former Yugoslavians
  • Recommended for ages four to eight year-olds

Imagine by John Lennon,  Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, 1988.

  • Illustrates children’s book of song lyrics
  • Recommended for all ages

The Kid’s Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose—and Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action by Barbara A. Lewis
First published in 1991, The Kid’s Guide to Social Action has helped thousands of young people get involved, get noticed, and get results. It has won awards from Parenting Magazine (“Outstanding Children’s Book, Reading-Magic Awards”) and the American Library Association (“Best of the Best for Children”). And now it’s even better. Exciting, empowering, and packed with information, this is the ultimate guide for kids who want to make a difference in the world. Step-by-step instructions show how to write letters, conduct interviews, make speeches, take surveys, raise funds, get media coverage, and more. Reproducible forms make it easy to circulate petitions, initiate proclamations, and prepare news releases. Real stories about real kids who are doing great things let readers know that they’re not too young to solve problems in their neighborhood, community, and nation. Resources point the way toward government offices, groups, organizations, websites, and books. Designed for kids to use on their own, this inspiring book is also ideal for schools, clubs, groups, troops, and youth organizations. Ages 10 and up.

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Abigail Marble  
When Monica is bullied by her friend Kate, it’s not with fists or weapons. Instead, Kate uses name-calling, humiliation, and exclusion—emotional bullying, or relational aggression. Often dismissed as a normal rite of passage, it’s as harmful as physical aggression, with devastating long-term effects. With the help of a supportive adult (her mother), Monica learns to reclaim her power. Includes tips, discussion questions, and resources. For students ages 5–11, parents, and caregivers.

Our Journey from Tibet: Based on a True Story by Laurie Dolphin, Penguin USA, 1997.
A nine year-old girl was interviewed about her illegal escape from her homeland. Read this to learn more about Tibetan life and history. Ages 4-8.

The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortíz, illustrated by Sharol Graves
An epic story of Native American peoples extending from the creation to modern times. A “teaching story” of destruction, resistance, and survival.

Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti,  Creative Company, 2003.
The powerful story of a girl’s personal experience during WWII, as she watched people being rounded up and would sneak food into the camps. It is a forceful argument for peace. Ages 4-8. 

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting and David Diaz, Voyager Books, 1999.
Winner of 1995 Caldecott Medal

  • A story about cats and people who could not get along until a smoky and fearful night brings them together
  • Deals thoughfully with diffucult issues such as the Los Angeles riots and what they meant to the children who lived through them

Talking Walls by Margy Burns Knight
The story explores walls the world over as both symbols and vehicles for cultural connection. It is a celebration of similarities and differences among the people of the world. Ages 5-13. 

Talking Walls: The Stories Continue by Margy B. Knight and Anne S. O’Brien
Illustrations and text tell the stories of walls, and the people they divide, throughout the world. Includes the stories of Chinese detainees who wrote poetry on the walls of Angel Island, children who wrote poetry on the fence around the home of Pablo Neruda in Chile, children who created a garden in Philadelphia from an abandoned lot and painted a mural on the surrounding wall, children in Belfast who are divided by a wall constructed by the army in the 1970s, and more.

UDHR Adapted by Ruth Rocha and Otavio Roth

  • Beautiful watercolor illustrations
  • Kid friendly text of the UDHR

The United Nations: Come Along with Me by Nane Annan, American Forum for Global Education, 2000.
This beautiful book uses examples from people Annan has met to provide a kid friendly explanation of what the United Nations does.

Why? By Nikolai Popov, Michael Neugebauer Book, 1998.

  • Told with no text
  • Illustrates the ramifications of lack of respect
  • Questions the purpose of war
  • Incandescent artwork


For Intermediate Readers

Children of the River by Linda Crew
The story of Sundara, who at 13 fled Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge army and left behind her parents, siblings, and childhood sweetheart.  Four years after settling in the