Jonathan Todres and Sarah Higinbotham

Human Rights and Children's Literature

Imagination and the Narrative of the Law

Oxford University Press 2016

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Children's LiteratureNew Books in EducationNew Books in Global Ethics and PoliticsNew Books in LawNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network October 18, 2016 Susan Raab

How can children grow to realize their inherent rights and respect the rights of others? In Human Rights in Children’s Literature: Imagination and the...

How can children grow to realize their inherent rights and respect the rights of others? In Human Rights in Children’s Literature: Imagination and the Narrative of Law (Oxford University Press, 2016), authors Jonathan Todres and Sarah Higinbotham explore this question through both human rights law and children’s literature. Both international and domestic law affirm that children have rights, but how are these norms disseminated so that they make a difference in children’s lives? Human rights education research demonstrates that when children learn about human rights, they exhibit greater self-esteem and respect the rights of others. The Convention on the Rights of the Child — the most widely-ratified human rights treaty — not only ensures that children have rights, it also requires that states make those rights “widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike.” This first-of-its-kind requirement for a human rights treaty indicates that if rights are to be meaningful to the lives of children, then government and civil society must engage with those rights in ways that are relevant to children.

Human Rights in Children’s Literature investigates children’s rights under international law — identity and family rights, the right to be heard, the right to be free from discrimination, and other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights — and considers the way in which those rights are embedded in children’s literature from Peter Rabbit to Horton Hears a Who! to Harry Potter. This book traverses children’s rights law, literary theory, and human rights education to argue that in order for children to fully realize their human rights, they first have to imagine and understand them. Learn more at: www.jonathantodres.com


Susan Raab is president of Raab Associates, an internationally recognized agency that specializes in marketing literature, products and initiatives that help improve the lives of young people. Clients have included National Geographic, Scholastic, the International Board on Books for Young People, and bestselling authors and illustrators. Susan is marketing advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She’s also a journalist reporting on publishing, education and human rights. Her work as a broadcast correspondent has been hosted by the University of Connecticut, and by the University of Florida’s Recess Radio, a program syndicated to 500 public radio stations. Her many interviews, including with Art Spiegelman, Jon Scieszka, Norton Juster, Laurie Halse Anderson and many others talking about art and literature can be heard here. Follow Susan at: https://twitter.com/sraab18

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