January is Universal Human Rights Month
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The need for this document grew out of the human tragedy of World War II, and represents the first global expression of human rights.
- Display a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A copy is available on the official website of the United Nations: United Nations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Ask readers to talk about the purpose of the Preamble. Read the first sentence. Discuss the meaning of the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Why is this an important first sentence in the Preamble?
- Introduce the following picture books and ask readers to apply their meaning to the discussion of human rights:
Let There Be Peace on Earth by Jill Jackson & Sy Miller & illus. by David Diaz (all ages)
People by Peter Sis (all ages)
The Long March by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (ages 4-8)
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacy Schuett (ages 4-8)
We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow & illus. by Bob Staake (ages 4-8)
- Have readers identify members of the United Nations on a world map. Where is the United Nations located?
- Younger readers may enjoy making a flag (on a 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper) for each of the member nations. Display the flags, along with books about the country, in the library.
- Ask readers to research Eleanor Roosevelt’s contribution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then have them write a poem or a song that pays tribute to her.
- The “Human Rights” covered in the thirty articles of the “Declaration” are explained in simple language on the following website: Youth for Human Rights.
- Have readers find books in the library that are set prior to World War II and the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and represents the need for the document. Titles from Random House include:
Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch (ages 12-up)
Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer (ages 8-12)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (ages 12-up)
Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop (ages 8-12)
Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury (ages 12-up)
A Faraway Island by Annika Thor & translated by Linda Schenck (ages 8-12)
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne and James D. Houston (ages 12-up)
Honey Cake by Joan Betty Stuchner & illus. by Cynthia Nugent (ages 6- 9)
Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen (ages 12-up)
Sylvia and Ali by Winifred Conkling (ages 9-12)
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka (ages 12-up)
- Have readers follow current events in newspapers and news magazines for the month of December. Ask them to collect articles that both celebrate and violate human rights. At the end of the month, sponsor an essay contest called “Human Rights: The State of the World.”
- Ask readers to make a bibliography of books that best represent each of the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Encourage them to include books fro all ages. Post the bibliography on the school or public library’s website so that others might join in the celebration. To get them started, introduce the following books from Random House and ask them to discuss which article applies:
As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson & illus. by Raul Colon (ages 6-10)
Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (ages 8-12)
Children of the River by Linda Crew (ages 12-up)
Fish by L.S. Matthews (ages 10-up)
Goodbye, Vietnam by Gloria Whelan (ages 8-12)
Half and Half by Lensey Namioka (ages 8-12)
Heaven Eyes by David Almond (ages 10-up)
How the Children Stopped the Wars by Jan Wahl (ages 8-up)
How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez (ages 8-12)
Mambo Point by Kurtis Scaletta (ages 9-14)
The Red Umbrella by Christine Gonzalez (ages 10-up)
Waiting for Biblioburro by Monica Brown & illus by John Parra (ages 4-6)