Endorsed and Recommended Amnesty Books for Children
Did you know Amnesty endorses and recommends children’s books? Amnesty endorses and recommends picture books about human rights. The Amnesty books suggested in this post ask the reader to think about how their actions can help the world be a better place.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them, I will get a small referral fee and you will be supporting me and my blog at no extra cost to you, so thank you! You can find more information here.
“It is through literature, not simply literacy, that we learn to understand and empathise. Through literature, we can find our place in the world, feel we belong and discover our sense of responsibility. Amnesty understands this very well.” – Michael Morpurgo
Why Use Picture Books to Teach about Human Rights?
Amnesty believes stories develop positive values, empathy, and an understanding of human rights. Through their research, they found exposure to literature increased compassion, social understanding while counteracting prejudice and abuse.
Issues promoted by Amnesty are complex and often abstract for young children. Picture books personalise people caught up in challenging situations, making the reader aware of issues outside their community.
Amnesty both endorse and recommend picture books. This selection of books encourages the reader to:
- make a difference
- take a stand to defend their rights and those of others
- take responsibility for their actions
- value their community
- take pride in their individuality
- think about the vulnerability of other people
- think about what freedom and safety means to different people
- explore the concept of justice
- explore a sense of belonging and inclusivity
- know their right to self-expression
- be aware of the threat to homes and habitats due to climate change
- change our world through compassion and acts of kindness.
Amnesty Story Explorer
Amnesty has created a Story Explorer resource. Print out and then fold the origami to promote discussion and critical thinking with your students on human rights.
The questions included are:
- Is there anything you are not being told?
- Whose voices aren't being heard?
- What issues are being explored?
- Whose story is being told?
- Who is treated with respect and dignity?
- Who is telling the story?
- Who makes the decisions in the story?
- Which character's behaviour surprises you?
Endorsed and Recommended Amnesty Books
Freedom, We Sing by Amyra León
Freedom, We Sing invites readers into a conversation about the many aspects of freedom. From the right to live without violence to be who we are, unafraid and safe – this book is a beacon of hope and empathy.
The book provides a gentle yet thought-provoking introduction to social justice, equality, and the importance of understanding and respecting human rights.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
A bear has lost his red, pointy hat and sets out to ask the other animals if they've seen it. However, all deny having any knowledge of it. Dejected, the bear worries his hat is lost forever until a helpful deer prompts him to remember where he last saw it, and the bear confronts the culprit.
I Want My Hat Back promotes discussions on the implications of dishonesty, integrity and the importance of making responsible decisions.
The Journey by Francesca Sanna
A mother makes the difficult decision to escape the war with her two children. During the arduous journey, they travel by car, truck, foot, and boat. The Journey illustrates the dire circumstances that push people to leave everything behind and embark on dangerous journeys towards an uncertain future.
The Journey fosters empathy and understanding of the realities of displacement and migration and the unwavering hope that fuels such journeys.
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies
A young Italian boy finds solace in an unexpected friendship in the Welsh countryside with an older man who races pigeons. It helps him feel he is no longer a stranger and belongs in his new home.
King of the Sky sparks discussions on a sense of belonging and connection, the power of friendship, the experiences and challenges of immigration, the impact of loneliness and the importance of patience and perseverance.
Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph
A unique dog leaves her home searching for a place where she can fit in. Eventually, she realizes that being true to oneself matters more than conformity. Odd Dog Out can spark conversations on individuality, the courage to be different, and the importance of self-acceptance and authenticity.
The Promise by Nicola Davies
A nameless girl dedicates herself to seed planting and landscape transformation to make amends after committing a criminal act. She shows how a single act of kindness can cause a ripple of change and bring hope to others.
This story of redemption, growth, and the power of making a positive change book underscores themes of determination, honesty, open-mindedness, optimism, sustainability and the realities of poverty.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Two friends embark on a mission to find something ‘spectacular.' Despite their tireless digging, they repeatedly bypass a series of underground treasures, always narrowly missing their desired discovery.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole inspires discussions about friendship, perseverance, working together, and not giving up, even when you don't immediately see results. The open-ended conclusion encourages critical thinking and inference skills.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson
A young girl, strolling through the city with her father, finds flowers blossoming in unexpected places, such as sidewalk cracks. She shares these flowers with those she encounters – a lifeless bird, a sleeping man, a dog, and her family.
Sidewalk Flowers sparks conversations about empathy, generosity, and appreciating simple beauty within daily life.
There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
A story of a lonely child who struggles to find friends among different groups of animals, starting with ‘a tribe of kids’. The illustrations show his joy in finding new friends and his sadness as they leave. He finally finds acceptance with a different tribe of kids and children.
Read A Tribe of Kids to start discussions on resilience, belonging and relationship skills.
There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
A polar bear is sitting in the chair of a furious mouse who rants and raves there is no room on the chair. In a reversal of fortune, the bear goes home to find there is the mouse in his house. Reinforces themes of conflict, self-management, activism and sharing.
Tidy by Emily Gravett
Pete the Badger likes everything clean and neat. He takes this too far when he tidies up the forest by concreting it over. After realising the consequences of his actions, he sets out to rectify them. Promotes self-management, cause & effect, responsible decision-making and reflection.
Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz
Town is by the Sea portrays of a day in the life of a young boy, intertwined with the realities of his father's life working in the coal mines beneath the sea. It juxtaposes the simplicity of a child's life with the complexity of adult life. Perfect for sparking insightful classroom discussions.
Read Town is by the Sea in your classroom to explore first-person narration, a sense of community and local traditions.
Umbrella by Elena Arevalo Melville
Clara finds an umbrella and shares her optimism and positive perspective with the other park-goers. This sparks a ripple effect that brings the community together, showing how a simple act of kindness can have a far-reaching impact.
Umbrella promotes discussions on kindness, empathy, community, and the power of positive thinking. It demonstrates creating change and fostering unity through small actions.
The Wall in the Middle of The Book by Jon Agee
A knight is overly worried about the perceived dangers on the other side of a wall, oblivious to the actual threats on his side. The Wall in the Middle of The Book illustrates the fear that stems from the unknown and emphasises the importance of open-mindedness and a tolerant outlook towards different situations.
Welcome by Barroux
Three lost polar bears drift away from their home when the ice breaks away. They search for a new home, but other animals consider them strange, say there is no room or ignore their pleas for help. They find an inhabited island and soon welcome three monkeys looking for a new home.
Welcome promotes discussions on empathy, immigration, belonging, climate change, inclusion, and tolerance.
I have some further reading for you on children's books and human rights: