Human rights reads for kids and young adults

It’s never too early to learn about human rights. Check out our list of inspiring books for children and young adults to take you and your family into spring.

Younger readers aged 3–7

Welcome by Barroux

This book tells the story of three polar bears adrift in the ocean after part of their ice float suddenly breaks off. It explores themes of difference, belonging and climate change, and has powerful echoes with the current refugee crisis.

I Have the Right to Be a Child by Alain Serres and illustrated by Aurélia Fronty

This beautiful book uses pictures to bring the Convention on the Rights of the Child to life and help young readers understand their rights.

© Alain Serres and Aurelia Fronty, Groundwood Books (2012)
© Alain Serres and Aurelia Fronty, Groundwood Books (2012)

There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins

Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour 2016, There’s a Bear on My Chair is a witty portrayal of activism and peaceful protest, told through the story of a tiny mouse attempting to move a bear from his favourite chair.

What Are You Playing At? by Marie-Sabine Roger and Anne Sol

This ‘lift-the-flap’ book aims to challenge rigid gender norms around childhood play.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms by Chris Riddell

My Little Book of Big Freedoms helps readers understand why human rights are so important for leading a free, safe and happy life.

Junior readers aged 8–12

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Winner of the Amnesty CILIP Honour 2017, The Bone Sparrow highlights the plight of Burma’s Rohingya people and details life inside a detention centre in Australia.

Dreams of Freedom by Amnesty International

Our latest book combines the words of human rights heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai, with beautiful illustrations from renowned international artists including Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell.

Two Weeks with the Queen by Morris Gleitzman

Two Weeks with the Queen follows Colin, a young boy who has a plan to break into Buckingham Palace. It is a witty and empathetic book that deals with some difficult themes, such as bereavement and homophobia.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

This book explores the theme of migration through a child’s eyes as a mother and her two young children are forced to flee their country.

© Francesca Sanna, Flying Eye Books (2016)
© Francesca Sanna, Flying Eye Books (2016)

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt

The Hypnotist tells the tale of 13-year-old Pip who has to battle racial hatred when he goes to work as a farmhand. Set during the civil rights struggles of 1960s America, this book explores the nature of prejudice and racist violence in a thoughtful and original way.

Young adults aged 13–16

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, The Hate U Give follows 16-year-old Starr, whose life changes forever when she witnesses a policeman murder her childhood friend, Khalil.

Here I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom compiled by Amnesty International

This compelling collection of stories, poems and graphic narratives explores different aspects of our human rights.

The Stars at Oktober Bend. © paperfury.com
The Stars at Oktober Bend. © paperfury.com

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

A coming-of-age novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves focuses on two brave young women who confront racism and homophobia to live as they choose.

The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

Narrated by 15-year-old Alice Nightingale, a girl who has suffered a brain injury and struggles to express herself, The Starts at Oktober Bend explores themes of sexual assault, poverty and racism.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea follows a host of characters in Germany 1945 as they seek shelter from the Red Army aboard the Wilhelm Gustlof. This is a tragic story that has rarely been told.

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