Reacting to the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the architect of the document. In 1950, the United Nations declared December 10 as Human Rights Day, and asked the member countries to use this day to educate their citizens about “the rights and dignity of all people” as outlined in the document.
– Commemorate this day by encouraging young adults to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Some may wish to see the movie and make comparisons to the book. Then have them discuss why the leaders of the United Nations felt the Declaration of Human Rights so necessary.
– Display in the school and public library the Declaration of Human Rights. Lead a discussion about each of the 30 Articles. The document may be found here.
– Display a world map and use pushpins to indicate the countries that belong to the United Nations.
Ask students to watch the national news for a week and take notes on stories that relate to human rights.
– Suggest books that support the need for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Titles from Random House include:
Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq (picture book) by Mark Alan Stamaty
Child of the Civil Rights Movement (picture book) by paula Young Shelton & illustrated by Raul Colon
Faith, Hope and Ivy June (middle grade) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Flesh and Blood So Cheap (middle grade) by Al marrin
Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg
Sylvia and Aki (middle grade) by Winifred Conkling
Shattered (middle grade) by Jennifer Armstrong
Goodbye, Vietnam (middle grade) by Gloria Whelan
Under the Blood-Red Sun (middle grade) by Graham Salisbury
Before We Were Free (young adult) by Julia Alvarez
Farewell to Manzanar (young adult) by Jeanne Houston
Chinese Cinderella (young adult) by Adeline Yen Mah
Diamonds in the Shadow (young adult) by Caroline B. Cooney
Enrique’s Journey (young adult) by Sonia Nazario
Eyes of the Emperor (young adult) by Graham Salisbury
Forgotten Fire (young adult) by Adam Bagdasarian
Shabanu; Haveli; The House of Djinn (young adult) Suzanne Fisher Staples
Mountains Beyond Mountains (young adult) by Tracy Kiddar, adapted for young people by Michael French
The Power of One (young adult) by Bryce Courtenay
The Red Umbrella (young adult) by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The Queen of Water (young adult) by Laura Resau and Maria Virgina Farinango
Slumgirl Dreaming (young adult) by Rubina All in collaboration with Anne Berthod and Divya Dugar
Ties that Bind, Ties That Break (young adult) by Lensey namioka
You Against Me (young adult) by Jenny Downham