With the focus on the forthcoming ANZAC Day commemorations and the great surge of books being published on Gallipoli and other modern day conflicts I thought I would take a slightly different approach and highlight children’s books that celebrate the differences of the world, the acceptance of diversity and the courage of those who stand up for what is right.
Foremost in this present time, a person that children know about and can relate to, is Malala Yousafzai. Malala’s story is well known and she is an inspiration for standing up for what is right. The photographic book Every Day is Malala Day, by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International, beautifully presents images of girls from around the world expressing their admiration for Malala and their dreams of overcoming barriers to girls’ education. This book also includes the transcript of Malala’s speech in 2013 to the United Nations’ Youth Assembly.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948 to protect the rights of all people from all countries, has been made accessible to children in the book We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Rights in Pictures, published in association with Amnesty International. Illustrations are by renowned children’s book illustrators including John Burningham, Polly Dunbar, Deb Gliori and Axel Scheffler. Examples are available to view online at the Guardian.
For very young children, the classic book Elmer, by David McKee, celebrates diversity and uniqueness with the story of a patchwork elephant finding his place in a grey elephant world. Black Skin, White Cow by Pablo Bernascon, again with an animal theme, is a story of self-acceptance. From a human perspective the book Same, but Little Bit Diff’rent by Kylie Dunstan compares the lives and interests of a city child to that of a child living in the top end of Australia.
Readers may be aware of a recent speech by the actress Angelina Jolie at a children’s award ceremony that is making the rounds on social media. Her comments are apt at this time of year when we reflect on past and present conflicts, the need to be advocates for peace and to be accepting of differences.
“Different is good. So don’t fit in, don’t sit still, don’t ever try to be less than what you are. And when someone tells you that you are different, smile, and hold your head up high and be proud.” Angelina Jolie, at Kid's Choice Awards, March 28, 2015, California
Teacher Librarian and CBCA Book of the Year Judge for Tasmania