Review of “We Are All Born Free”, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures


Paperback £7.99. Published by Amnesty International/ Frances Lincoln.

For over 50 years Amnesty International has been defending human rights across the globe. This book has taken the 30 articles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and presented them in a beautifully illustrated book at a level that kids can understand. Artists such as John Burningham, Polly Dunbar, Catherine and Laurence Anholt and Satoshi Kitamura have all contributed (plus many more).

So what did I think?

Since I first discovered this book, I have used it many times in school with children, and tutoring pupils, as well as sharing it with my own kids. In all honesty the reason I’d initially picked it up was to pore over the amazing artwork.It’s a real treat to have a collection of artwork like this in one book, and is a real celebration of the distinctive styles and talents of all the illustrators (Axel Scheffler and Chris Riddell!) in We Are All Born Free.

But it’s not just a pretty book. The 30 articles explain our rights  as human beings, simply and matter-of-factly. For example: “We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.” Some of the pictures are amusing, others are poignant. Each article is a rich stimulus for discussion and wondering, and will help children empathise with others.

Obviously, some of the topics are very sensitive (for example the mention of torture), so parents and teachers have to use their discretion. But when I’ve been teaching Years 5 and 6 , I’ve found this book perfect for PSHE lessons and assemblies. This book could cover lots of different lessons! It would make a great gift for new parents too, as they reflect upon the values they wish to share with their child.

This is a powerful and thought provoking book that can be shared time and time again; and is a great introduction to politics for older pupils in KS2. A sound investment for a child’s understanding of ‘protective behaviours’.

Downloadable activities to accompany the book here .

Pippa Wilson 10th May 2016


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