Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee

That’s Not Fair!

Cover image courtesy of Kids Can Press
Cover image courtesy of Kids Can Press

I’ve been looking for some recently published books that explain human rights to children. I was fortunate enough to come across That’s Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms, written by Danielle S. McLaughlin, illustrated by Dharmali Patel of Little Blackstone Studios Inc. and published by Kids Can Press (www.kidscanpress.com). This new title is a part of the Citizen Kid Series (www.CitizenKidCentral.com) and is also based on a Canadian six-episode video series called “That’s Not Fair!” which was written and produced by the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust (www.thatsnotfair.ca). While this book and its animated series is based on Canadian rights, they still stand true when it comes to American rights. The CCLET’s premise is, “If your child is old enough to say, ‘That’s not fair!’, they are old enough to learn about their basic human rights.”

Councilor Bug would like to welcome you to his city where elected officials, Mayor Moe, and fellow City Councilors have a big job to do. Bug wants readers to know that a city is a democracy and that figuring out what our rights mean isn’t always easy. The creatures of the town come in all shapes, sizes, and beliefs. While the Mayor and City Council need to keep the city safe and prosperous, they sometimes need to make new laws, but not all citizens will agree, which makes coming up with new laws pretty tricky.

Following the welcoming introduction, six stories are presented to readers to explain different scenarios happening in the town, how the Mayor and City Councilors react to the situations, and how they were resolved. The plots are based on the following basic human rights: The Freedom of Religion; The Right to Privacy (or Freedom from Unreasonable Search and Seizure); The Right to Life, Liberty and Security; Freedom of the Press and Other Media; The Right to Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Expression; and The Right to Equal Treatment and Freedom from Discrimination. Illustrations mimic cartoon stills from the animated videos, showcasing the wide variety of creatures that inhibit this make-believe town. Each story chapter concludes with an explanation of the specific human right that was presented, along with three discussion questions for the reader to help them ponder and think about what was just explained.

The 44-page non-fiction picture book concludes with a more detailed explanation of how to think further about human rights and a special note for grown-ups. While the stories might tend to be a little long for preschoolers, early elementary students should have no problem digesting the content, and hopefully give them some beginning tools to stand up for their own basic human rights.

McLaughlin, Danielle S. and Patel, Dharmali. That’s Not Fair!: Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms (Citizen Kid Series). Kids Can Press, April 2016. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-77138-208-3. $17.95.

Janet Weber is a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and is a Youth Services Librarian at the Tigard Public Library in Oregon. Follow her book adventures on Twitter at @JanetBookPlanet.

2 comments

  1. Mike Botham

    It seems to me that we have overemphasized the rights of children and forgotten to remind them of their responsibilities. For me rights and responsibilities are the two sides of the same coin: you can’t have one without the other. For example, a child’s right to choose to disengage in a learning environment comes with the responsibility to not disrupt the learning of others around them. Rather than perpetuating the cult of individualism let’s promote the notion of collectively working towards the common good, even if that means occasionally my individual rights may have to take a back seat to the collective rights of us all.

  2. Kathia Ibacache

    Thank Jane for your post. Human rights books are hard to find for the younger crowds. I will purchase this book promptly. I have been building the non-fiction collection here at Simi Valley Public Library for almost two years now. My goal is that all areas of knowledge will be represented in our children’s collection.

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