Rowena Seabrook: Exploring Human Rights with Children
Rowena Seabrook, Human Rights Education Manager at Amnesty International UK, explains how picture books help us to explore human rights issues with children
I'm Rowena Seabrook, I'm the Human Rights Education Manager at Amnesty International UK and I work with a team who deliver human rights education for children, young people and adults. In particular, I work on a project that explores human rights through children's books and books for young adults.
We often, in picture books, will see children enjoying the rights that they have to play, to have friends, to be heard, but also we can explore with them through picture books what happens when they don't enjoy those rights. Things like relationships, negotiating with each other, what happens when we aren't heard and so it allows us to really uphold those rights and make sure they know what they are.
I think it's important to talk to children about human rights because they have them and that can quite easily get forgotten. We're already having conversations about how we treat each other, how we can expect to be treated. So, it's not about saying 'and now we're talking about human rights' - it's about recognising that in having those conversations and exploring it, and being aware that we're exploring those themes, that we're helping to build a rights-respecting society.
The partnership between Amnesty International UK and CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals came about because we approached CILIP and were really delighted that they immediately got our vision that there was a link between how we celebrate human rights and build rights-respecting societies and what great writers and illustrators do in children's fiction. What we're looking for in picture books for the Amnesty CILIP Honour is primarily the same things that everybody is looking for which is great, stimulating picture books, the interplay of image and text to create empathy, to explore abstract ideas like equality or fairness and ultimately empowers young readers to stand up for themselves and others.