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6 Ideas for Universal Children's Day

November 20, 2014 by Nora Nagy

There is so much to talk about on Universal Children's Day. Think about your own children, the children in your family, your school or your community, all the children in the world. And, as the UNESCO website reminds us, we have to think of the child we used to be: 'We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.' (Source: UN website)

We have collected different themes you can discuss on this day, and we would like to offer some resources to you and the children in your life.

1 Learn about the Rights of the Child

Would you like to learn more about Children's Rights as adopted by the UN General Assembly (Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989)? Here is one of the most accessible lists we've found on the Internet, print it and read:

You can also find a fascinating collection of cartoons on the UNICEF website. These short animations pinpoint the rights of the child. A great benefit of using animation in the classroom is that you can use it in classes of any language level. Either ask them if they can guess which right the cartoon aims to represent, or ask them for their opinion about the cartoons.

2 Learn about Children's Right to Education

As teachers, librarians, writers and parents, we can all support education in our everyday life. Read the two main Articles that focus on education, and watch this cartoon about Children's Right to Uninterrupted Education:

Article 28 'Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free. Secondary education must be available for every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s dignity. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.'

Article 29 'Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.'

(Source: UNICEF UK)

3 Read with children

It's not only research, but also common sense and personal experience that says that reading empowers us. 'A word after a word after a word is power'- says Margaret Atwood in her poem 'Spelling'. Ask your students why they think a word after a word after a word can mean power.

A word after a word after a word is also storytelling, a skill that essentially defines our humanity. Reading stories together is the easiest way to help children learn about emotions or prepare them for difficult life situations. Helping children become good readers and develop reading comprehension skills is one of the biggest gifts we can give to them for life. Let me quote a friend who made the following comment about reading with children: 'we are also responsible for what the adults of the future will be like'.

4 Read children's and young adult books on your own

A recent article has raised the question of 'Why adults shouldn't be embarrassed to read children's books'. It's not just that adults shouldn't be embarrassed, but they should be encouraged to read more children's books. Reading children's literature is the greatest fun - they are written by adults for children, they are beautifully illustrated, and they let you rediscover everyday topics from a very different perspective. They deal with all sorts of topics and they take you on adventures that will keep your mind active and creative. Go to a children's bookshop and browse the shelves. Pick a book you would like to read. Read it alone, and then share it with others.

5 Read stories about important issues: child labour

One of the most upsetting topics we have read about is child labour in various countries today. What can we do about it if not all businesses support children's rights?

  • You can watch out for countries and companies that use child labour and avoid buying their products.
  • You can teach your own children and students about our responsibility.
  • Watch this video about Children's Rights and Business Principles.
  • Read this double page (pages 20 and 21) from our reader, Mystery at the Mill, and do the activity from the After Reading activities on page 74.


Mystery at the Mill is our level 5 original story written by Elspeth Rawstron and illustrated by Nick Tankard. It is not only a crime story set in contemporary England, it also reminds of our own responsibilities to care about human and children's rights.

6 Watch and read stories of inspirational children

We must admit that children often inspire us more than adults with their bravery, courage and creativity. When you spend time with your own students or children, listen to their opinions, and pay attention to understanding their thinking patterns. Have you thought of things you can learn from children? Do they remind you of someone you used to be?

Here are some TED videos about and by children:

Visit these websites to learn about children who stand out and do incredible things for us. One of the most amazing children of today is Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Visit the website of the Malala Fund and talk about her with your children and students.

Check out the website A Mighty Girl, a collection of books and movies to inspire little girls.

Ask your students to tell you about people (both children and adults) who inspire them, or if they know any children in your school or community who has done something brave, interesting or inspirational.