Annotated Bibliography of Children's Books

Relevant to Human Rights


Agostinelli, M. (1979). On wings of love. NY: William Collins Publishers.

This book has the 10 principles of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child written in a format that young children can read and understand. The pictures beautifully express what the words are saying. This book should be used in grades K-5 to set ground rules for how to treat others in the class and throughout the school.

Bartoletti, S. C. (1999). Kids on strike. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Kids On Strike talks about different situations where kids fought for their rights. It also describes in detail their horrible working conditions. I think that kids could "jigsaw" parts of this book and then form groups and talk about the different stories that were found in the group. This book would be appropriate for 5th grade and up. I also think that it would be a valuable resource for teachers to refer to for information about child labor and children's rights.

Becerra de Jenkins, L. (1988). The honorable prison. NY, NY: Puffin Books.

The Honorable Prison is a novel based on the life of its author. It takes place in Columbia during civil war. Marta is a high school student whose father has taken a stand against "the General." As Marta's family prepares to leave the country, they are arrested and sent to live on an army base high in the Andes Mountains. There they face many challenges as they struggle to gain their freedom and fight for the cause they believe in. This book would be appropriate reading material for middle-school students.

Bradby, M. (1995). More than anything else. New York: Orchard Books.

More Than Anything Else is a book about a "brown" nine-year-old boy named Booker who dreams of being able to discover the secrets that books have inside. His dream becomes a reality when his mother hands him an alphabet book, and he goes to meet the "newspaperman" (that is as brown as he is) to teach him the song the book makes.

This book could be used in Kindergarten or 1st grade when the students are first learning their alphabet. This book would be a great introduction to an alphabet lesson, or used before singing the alphabet song. It would be important to let the student's know that not everyone is lucky enough to learn the alphabet. This book could also be tied into the Universal Declaration for Human Rights see Articles 1 and 26.

Brown, D. (1971). Bury my heart at wounded knee. New York: Hold, Rinehart, and Winston.

It is sad that history is written by the victors. In this book, Dee Brown gives a much-needed voice to those thousands of Native Americans who suffered at the hands of their victors. Moving from the Long Walk of the Navajo nation in 1830, this book deliberately and poignantly addresses the hardships of the Native Americans at a time when all they knew was coming to an end.

This book should be read and used as a resource by any teacher teaching American History. It offers a well-researched and documented tale of the plight of Native Americans and the atrocities they endured. Although it is not appropriate reading for younger students, an adapted version of this book is available: Ehrlich, A. (1993). Wounded knee: An Indian history of the American west. New York: Henry Hold and Co.

Bunting, E. (1991). Fly away home. New York: Clarion.

A young boy and his father are living in an airport. There are rules to living at the airport. The first rule is not to be noticed. The second rule is to dress like nobody. The third rule it to not sit by others that are living at the airport. The boy sees a bird that is stuck in the airport and tells it to "fly away home." He also sees all the people that are coming and going. He feels sad when they all talk about their own homes that they are going to. He feels that he may be there forever, but knows that someday he himself will "fly away home." Could be used to discuss article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Written for ages 4-8.

Cohen, B. (1993). Molly's Pilgrim. New York: Bantam Skylark.

Molly's third grade class is getting ready for their Thanksgiving celebration. Mrs. Stickley assigns each student to bring in a Pilgrim doll for the classroom diorama. When the dolls are presented, Molly shows her Russian peasant doll to her class. They all laugh at her. Molly explains that this doll represents her mother who came over to America for religious freedom, just like the Pilgrims did many years ago.

Deedy, C.A. (2000). The yellow star. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, LTD.

This is a picture book for elementary students (3rd to 6th grade). It is the time of WWII when the Nazi soldiers went into Denmark. The people of Denmark loved and respected their king. When they were told that the Jews must wear a yellow star, the Danes became angry. The Danes turned to King Christian for a solution in hopes that segregation would not occur amongst the people. This story tells of the love of a nation and of people, regardless of one's religious beliefs. It would be a good book to talk about segregation and religious persecution that went on during this time period.

Demi. (2001). Gandhi. New York: Margaret K. McElder Books.

Born in India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was taught to love, keep a soul clean, pray, and harm no one. In his early adult years Gandhi was faced with a question that we must all face. How do I want to life my life? Reflecting on what he was taught early in life, Ghana turns to those beliefs. Demi walks the reader through the life of Ghana (though not all details in the book are correct) and helps the reader see how the choices in each life make a difference in society. Demi tries to help the reader see how violence can be avoided by love. Recommended for ages 9-12. This is a great book if trying to show how to be an example of peace, but if you are trying to teach about he account of Ghana, get another book.

Fox, P. (1973). The slave dancer. New York: Dell Publishing.

Join Jessie as he is kidnapped and forced to work on a slave ship. Follow him in the adventures he has at sea as he witnesses some of the cruel and horrible practices of the slave traders. Can Jessie help stop the madness? Will he be able to make a difference on how the slaves are treated? This book was written for ages 9-12.

Freedman, R. (1994). Kids at work: Lewis Hine and the crusade against child labor. New York: Scholastic Inc.

This book was a documentation of child labor in the U.S. and the fight to abolish it. Lewis Hine, a teacher, photographer, and human rights activist spent many years traveling the U.S. documenting various cases of child labor in hopes of making it illegal. This book is a collection of his pictures of child laborers. Many of the pictures were taken against the wishes of the employers for obvious reasons. For many of the pictures, he had to sneak onsite before or after the children were working…which means even longer hours for the children. However, it was worth it. In 1942, Congress passed an amendment that severely restricted child labor.

This book would be a great reference for 5th or 6th graders doing individual research. It would be useful for children in the 3rd and 4th grades if assisted by an adult, or if specific passages were selected. All ages, simply by the stories the pictures tell, will find it enlightening.

Fritz, J. (1995). You want women to vote, Lizzie Stanton? G.P. New York: Putnam's Sons.

Why should women be able to vote? Isn't their job to stay home while they clean house and raise children? Well, according to Elizabeth Cady Stanton this is not the place for women in society. Elizabeth Cady Stanton will forever be remembered for her dedication and courage towards women's rights. Read on to find out what contributions she made and why she can be considered a hero. I would use this book for firth grade and up. It is a great book for really looking into someone's personal human rights. I would, use this book when teaching about women's rights and voting. It will really enhance your lessons and be a good resource when teaching about the rights of women and voting.

Granfield, L. (1997). Amazing grace: The story of the hymn. Plattsburgh, New York: Tundra Books.

Amazing Grace is a book about the songwriter, John Newton. The story tells of his life as a seaman who captured African slaves and then realized during a near death experience that he needed God in his life. He gave up slaving and became a preacher, as his mother had always wanted. Upon becoming a well-known speaker, he also wrote hymns including, "Amazing Grace." This song tells how he was once on a beaten path and by the grace of God was able to become a worthy man. The story ends describing how Newton fought for abolition and how the year of his death was the same year Britain abolished slavery.

I would use this to teach about the slave trade because there are a lot of facts about it in the book. Also, I would use this to show the students the unfair treatment of the slaves and bring in the issue of the rights of freedom and equality. I most likely would use this for upper elementary and middle school students because of the amount of reading and the information within the text.

Hopkinson, D. (1995). Sweet Clara and the freedom quilt. US: Knopf Alfred.

Clara dreams of seeing her mother and of being free. When she overhears some slaves talking about escaping and the underground railroad, she comes up with a way to help in this crusade. See how she devises a way to help others to freedom. This book could be used in grades K-4.

Jiang, J. L. (1997). Red scarf girl: A memoir of the cultural revolution. New York: Scholastic.

Red Scarf Girl details Ji Li Jiang's experience as a young girl during China's Cultural Revolution. Written at a level appropriate for middle school students (perhaps from 6th through 8th grades), this memoir addresses some of the human rights abuses many Chinese suffered under Mao Zedong's leadership. Through reading Jiang's story, students will gain an appreciation for many of the complexities of living under conditions where personal freedoms are sacrificed for an imposed common good. This would be a good book for an entire class, an interest group, or for individual readers, and would provide strong support to a middle school unit on human rights.

Johnson, D. (1993). Now let me fly. New York: Simon's and Schuster Children's Publishing.

Follow the life a young child taken into slavery as she is torn away from her family and her homeland. It takes you through her journey here in the new world and the hardships that she encounters. For upper elementary grades it could be used to teach children about slavery and how it impacts the lives of the people taken into slavery.

Levy, E. (1987). If you were there when they signed the Constitution. New York: Scholastic.

Packed full of useful information, this book takes students on a journey through the creation of our country. Wonderful explanations inform students of the rights that our country fought for and cherished. Slavery, freedom, voting, equality, and other human rights issues are magically brought to life in this captivating informational book. See the internal struggles our country faced as they strove to preserve the very rights they gained in becoming free from England.

Lowry, L. (1989). Number the stars. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

This book would be great in studying the effects of war. It also addresses human rights and how the Nazis violated these rights during the war. Another issue addressed in this book was the courage and innovation of the Denmark people in saving the Jews. I believe this book and its content would be appropriate

Morgan, N. (1998). Mother Teresa: Saint of the poor. Austin, TX: Steck - Vaughn.

Who is Mother Teresa? Discover the thoughts and dreams of a woman who gave her all. What made her so special? Use this book to teach all of your children about service and love and their ability to make a difference. Designed for use with ages 9-12.

Nikola-Lisa, W. (1994). Bein' with you this way. New York: Lee & Low Books Inc.

Bein' With You This Way is a fun poem full of rhythm. The book details all of the similarities and differences noticed in a person's physical characteristics. This book celebrates people's differences in a fun, sing-out-loud kind of way. This book is really enjoyable and great for young children. Ties in with Article 1 of the UDHR; every individual should be treated with dignity.

Paterson, K. (1991). Lyddie. New York: The Trumpet Club.

This book takes place in the 1940s. Lydia (Lyddie) Worthen is a poor farm girl from Vermont. Her dad left their family, and her mom leaves them at the beginning of the story. Her brother and sisters are sent to work with other people. She is sent to do housekeeping at the Cutler's tavern. Lyddie is very independent, so when she hears about factory work in the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts she decided to go there. These factories are run by young girls who work six days a week, and live in bunkhouses near the mill. A girl there named Diana teaches Lyddie how to read. Problems start rising, and Lyddie has to choose between keeping quiet and keeping her job, or standing up for her friends and the rights all of them deserve. This is a very good historical fiction novel.

Rocha, R. & Roth, O. (1989). The universal declaration of human rights. Brazil: United Nations Publications.

This book is an adaptation of human rights for any grade level. Each human right from the universal declaration is broken down smaller so children can relate to them better. From the beginning, this book tells how the Declaration of Human Rights came about, and who took part in writing this important document. It also recognized the diversity in the classroom. For example, the authors make it a point to clarify that it doesn't matter whether or not your parents are married. All children have the same rights. When introducing Human Rights in the classroom, I would use this book as a tool to reach a stronger comprehension from the students, as well as for myself as a teacher.

Schlank, C. & Metzger, B. (1990). Martin Luther King, Jr. A biography for young children. Mt. Rainier, MD: Gryphon House, Inc.

Warm sepia tones will welcome you into the illustrations portraying Martin Luther King, Jr. as a young child. A touching story of how Martin's childhood days were spent and his first experiences with racism. Written so that people of all ages can understand how a simple boy grew to become one of our nation's heroes. Martin had a dream about racial equality and he acted upon it. What will you do with your dreams?

Taylor, M.D. (1989). The friendship and the gold Cadillac. New York: Dial Books For Young Readers.

This book contained two powerful stories about life in the South when segregation between whites and blacks was going on. The first story, The Friendship, is about Mr. Tom Bee and the Wallace's store. When the Wallace boys try to force Mr. Tom Bee to not call their father by his first name, Mr. Tom reminds John (the father) of how he saved his life and that he said he could call him John the rest of his life. This angers John and ends up harming Mr. Tom Bee. The second story, The Gold Cadillac, is about a family who wants to show their family in Mississippi their new car. As they enter Mississippi, they are shocked about the segregation forced upon the blacks and are treated cruelly because of the color of their skin.

Both of these powerful stories could be read to students of all ages when you are talking about human rights issues, especially when talking about how we are all equal, no matter how we look. They could also be used when talking about having respect for one another. In the first story, I would use caution when sharing with younger children. It might be too graphic fir them.

Taylor, M.D. (1990). Mississippi bridge. New York: Bantam.

This book is about a young boy, Jeremy Simms, who watches at the general store weekly for those getting on the bus. He notices several black people being treated unfairly at the store, and while the white people get on the bus the blacks have to wait. He wants to be friends with them, yet his father says no. Meanwhile there isn't room on the bus for everyone, so the blacks are made to get off. There is thick fog that day and the bus wrecks off the bridge. Even though he was treated unfairly that day an African American man helps in the tragedy. A great book to help everyone learn how to better treat one another. Use in teaching about human rights, Article 1 of the UDHR. This would be a good book for grades 3-5.

Unicef. (2002). A life like mine: How children live around the world. New York: DK Publishing.

This is a book put out by Unicef about children and conditions around the world. It contains beautiful pictures and descriptions of the countries and of the daily lives of the children who live there. The countries described include everywhere from Africa to Australia to Turkey. The issues discussed include survival, development, protection, and participation. The central theme is children's rights.

Winter, J. (1998). Follow the drinking gourd. New York: Knopf.

In Follow the Drinking Gourd, Peg Leg Joe goes around to different plantations to teach the slaves a song that tells them how to get to the North. One family sings the song as they follow the drinking gourd North to Canada. This book would be appropriate for all grades to help teach about the civil war, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. It is, however, written with the young child in mind. A succinct tie in with human rights is made.