Review of 'We Are All Born Free'

2009-04-02 00:00

“Why do I have to?” Frances (6) didn’t appreciate being dragged away from the TV on a Sunday morning to discuss a book. Perhaps I was being unfair to it. TV would be stiff competition for any manuscript in the battle for a six-year-old’s attention, let alone one devoted to the weighty subject of human rights.

But this is not just any old PC reader. Twenty-one of the world’s best illustrators, including John Burningham, Korky Paul and our own Niki Daly have tackled the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are each encapsulated in a simple, pithy sentence.

Cassia (10) had already given it the thumbs-up. An enthusiastic reader (and TV watcher), she had read it twice by herself and proclaimed it “nice!”.

“It was interesting and I liked looking at the different pictures,” she said. She was confident that she understood its contents.

Back to Frances, who started wriggling half-way through our reading session. She’s used to listening to stories but said she didn’t really understand what this was all about. Which is not to say that the book would not be a worthwhile investment for someone her age, just that it needs quite a lot of explanation. It’s also too much to take in at one go and would probably be best consumed in small bits.

Shelagh McLoughlin

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