Human Rights in Children's Literature: Imagination and the Narrative of Law

ISBN : 9780190213343

Jonathan Todres; Sarah Higinbotham
320 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
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How can children grow to realize their inherent rights and respect the rights of others? In this book, 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.


Foreword by Carol Bellamy, Former Executive Director of UNICEF

Preface by Jonathan Todres


Chapter 1: Making Children's Rights Widely Known

Chapter 2: Participation Rights and the Voice of the Child

Chapter 3: Confronting Discrimination, Pursuing Equality

Chapter 4: Identity Rights and Family Rights

Chapter 5: Civil and Political Rights of Children: Accountability with Dignity

Chapter 6: Securing Child Well-being: The Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of the Child

Chapter 7: Adults in the World of Children's Literature

Chapter 8: Reading, Rights, and the Best Interests of the Child

Appendix 1: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Appendix 2: Discrimination against Children

Appendix 3: Cinderella around the World

Appendix 4: Empirical Study: How Children Interpret Human Rights in Stories

Children's Literature Bibliography


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About the author: 

Jonathan Todres is a Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law. His research focuses on children's rights and child well-being. Professor Todres has published more than fifty articles on children's rights, child trafficking and related forms of exploitation, legal and cultural constructs of childhood, and human rights in children's literature. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.; Sarah Higinbotham is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her scholarship centers on the intersections of literature and law. She has written about the violence of the law in early modern England, critical prison theory, and human rights in children's literature. She teaches at a men's prison outside Atlanta and works actively with an Atlanta nonprofit that benefits children who have an incarcerated parent.

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