“Human Rights” are inherent rights that are believed to belong to every person, without discrimination of any kind. Challenging for adults to explain and kids to understand, I have gathered the best resources, activities, books, and lessons on human rights to help parents and teacher introduce them to their kids.
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History of Human Rights
In 539 B.C., the first king of Persia- Cyrus the Great- and his armies conquered the city of Babylon. In the world’s first charter of human rights, he freed the slaves, established racial equality, and declared that everyone had the right to choose their own religion. This idea of human rights spread to India, Greece, and the Roman Empire. Throughout history, there have been other charters of human rights, such as the Magna Carta (1215), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), and the US Bill of Rights (1791).
From 1939 to 1945, millions of people in Europe and Asia died in World War II, and millions more were homeless, injured, or starving. On December 10, 1948, global leaders joined together to declare and sign a set of 30 articles (“rules”) to attempt to protect the rights of all people, no matter where they live. The document is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and most countries in the world promise to uphold these basic human rights. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen, and many organizations continue working to try to keep children safe, healthy, and able to go to school among others.
Books about Human Rights for Kids
We Are All Born Free by Amnesty International is a beautiful book for children and adults; it celebrates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with illustrations by internationally-renowned artists and illustrators. The Guardian has several examples of pages from inside the book– gorgeous!!!!
I Have the Right to Be a Child by Alain Serres explains in simple terms that no matter if you are big or small, rich or poor, born here or somewhere else, people everywhere have the right to food, water, and shelter; the right to go to school; the right to be free from violence; the right to breathe clean air, and much more.
A Life Like Mine is a great book for primary school children looking at children’s rights and how these rights are being met around the world. This DK & unicef book looks at water, food, home, health, education, play, protection, identity, and expression plus why these are important. Kids enjoy the stories from real children around the world. Such a great resource for libraries and teacher!
Videos Introducing Human Rights
Also: watch each of these videos by Youth for Human Rights, with teens acting out each of the articles of the Human Rights Declaration.
On-Line Lessons about Human Rights
Read the UN’s “Declaration of Human Rights”
Youth for Human Rights Education Package: “lesson plans, enrichment activities, ideas for activating the students on human rights education and a list of specific correlations of the lessons to model education standards. This is a resource for implementing a complete human rights curriculum in your class or school, or can be integrated into an existing curriculum.”
University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center Curriculum; Plus check out all of their hands-on activities for younger children.