My new book, This Child Every Child grew out of hundreds of school visits I made after the publication of If The World Were A Village and If America Were A Village. Students frequently asked me about the other children in the world — what did they have for breakfast, what were their schools and lives like.
Then I read the U.N. “Convention on the Rights of the Child”, and it was so beautiful, and so right, and so clear, that I asked the director of Child Protection at the U.N. if I could use it as the backbone for a children’s picture book, and she said “oh yes, we’d be delighted to have somebody do that”.
The book uses a number of the articles from the convention as a structure for looking at — and comparing — the lives of children around the world, everything from games and school and family life to work, including children who are forced to work.
I think it’s important for children to understand the amazing disparity between children around the world — the fortunate ones and those who are not so fortunate. Yes, the material is difficult, and I encourage parents and teachers to read the book WITH their children, and even to skip pages that they feel their children are not yet ready for. Only one or two pages have really difficult content — especially “Children and War” — but with students up to Grade 3 or 4, I do think it is a good idea to read the book together, not simply to say “here’s a good book”. Reading it together also leads to a good conversation about “what can we do to help children like those in the book”.
The context is really critical. I think some teachers might use it as a first step in a Service Learning program — “let’s think about WHY we need to be of service to others in our community”; some teachers might use it as part of a global geography curriculum — “where do these children come from, what’s it like there, what languages do they speak there, what’s the weather like”, and so on, are just a few of the many questions that might be asked. The last 2-page spread in the book is an essay I wrote concerning how to talk with children about these difficult topics, and what children and adults can do to help. I encourage teachers and parents to read this first.
Guest Post by David J. Smith
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