Issues

10 Human Rights Resources For Kids

Many adults are unsure of their human rights, so it’s no surprise that kids are often in the dark, too. Children’s rights are preserved in documents like the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the language isn’t accessible to young people. Engaging and understandable human rights resources like games, books, and activities help kids understand their rights, discuss them with their peers, and promote them in effective ways. Here are ten human rights resources designed for kids:

Activity: Child’s version of the UDHR from Amnesty International

This activity from Amnesty International simplifies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for children. As an example, Article 1 in the original document reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” In the children’s version, that’s simplified to “We are born free and equal, and should treat others in the same way.” The activity includes a second part called “Right Up Your Street,” which is an illustration depicting the different rights. Children can study the picture and identify their rights.

Film: “Girl Rising”

First released in 2015, this film by Richard Robbins tells the true stories of nine girls from nine different countries fighting for an education. Education is a cornerstone human right, meaning it impacts a person’s ability to access other rights, such as the right to work for a good wage in safe conditions. Girls still face significant barriers to getting an education. This documentary introduces young people to the courage of girls fighting for their rights.

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Book: Know Your Rights (And Claim Them)

Published in 2021, this book written in partnership with Geraldine Van Bueren, Angelina Jolie, and Amnesty International educates children on their rights. It describes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the history of child rights, the types of rights, and the young activists fighting for them. Know Your Rights is a great resource for young people age 13 and older interested in human rights activism.

Game(s): Games For Change

Since 2004, the nonprofit Games For Change has facilitated the creation and distribution of “social impact games.” These games are used for educational and humanitarian purposes. Their work includes an annual Games for Change Festival and programs that empower creators and social innovators. Their website features curated games, some of which are free or have fees paid on external sites. “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” is a past example. Released in 2016, the choice-driven, narrative game developed by iNK Stories puts players in the shoes of a photojournalist in 1970s Iran.

Game: My Family Builders Happy Family card game

Designed for 2-4 players between 4-99 years old, this card game is a great option for families interested in fostering empathy and an understanding of diversity. There are 42 color cards depicting characters with a variety of cultures, genders, and ethnicities. The goal is to introduce children to the diversity of the world, including the diversity of abilities, gender, culture, and more. Parents can then explain why everyone – regardless of differences – deserves to have their human rights respected. Instructions are available in English, French, German, and Spanish.

Book: Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight For Desegregation

Seven years before the historic Brown v. Board of Education, a school turned away Sylvia Mendez and her brothers. Why? Even though Sylvia was an American citizen who spoke English, her family was Mexican and Puerto Rico. That was enough for the school to demand she attend a Mexican school instead. Written for kids 6-9 years old, this award-winning picture book by Duncan Tonatiuh describes how the Mendez family fought back and helped end segregation schooling in California.

Games and lesson plans: iCivics

The nonprofit iCivics was founded in 2009 by Sandra Day O’Connor. The org provides resources like lesson plans and games that educate students on civics. Since its founding, iCivics has served millions of kids in schools. Game examples include “Branches of Power,” which educates kids on the three branches of government, and “Do I Have a Right?” This game has players run a law firm and understand constitutional rights.

Book: Right Now!: Real Kids Speaking For Change

From author Miranda Paul and illustrator Bea Jackson, Right Now! profiles eleven young people fighting for human rights, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, peace activist Bana Alabed, and others. With engaging drawings and kid-friendly commentary, readers learn about their rights and how to take action themselves.

Game: The Human Rights Game

This 30-60 minute board game based on the UDHR principles teaches kids and teenagers about their human rights, freedoms, and responsibilities. The goal is three-fold: teach kids about their rights, help students make good choices, and reduce school bullying. The Human Rights Game has cards for 5-8 grade and 9-12 grade. 2-8 players can play at once. According to the website, there’s also an online version available.

Activities, lesson plans, and other tools: Equitas

Equitas is Canada’s oldest human rights education organization. In the “Children and Youth Participation” section, there are a variety of tools. One toolkit called “Play It Fair” teaches kids 6-12 years old the importance of human rights and respect for diversity. Participation and inclusion reference sheets are available, so activities in the toolkit are accessible to kids with different abilities. There’s also a Play It Fair activity guide and National Child Day activity guide.

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About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.