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The Right to a Childhood



What are we reading on World's Children's Day?

A book to think about the children who have their childhood denied, living in war zones and flighting from persecution.
The Beginning  was written back in 2012 by Spanish author Paula Carbaillera and illustrated by Berlin-based award-winning author/illustrator Sonja Danowski (Smon Smon). It's a book about war,  seen through the eyes of a child, and about hope.  

The story is deliberately out of space and time in the poetic, succinct text, although Danowski's realistic, poignant style seems to locate it somewhere in Europe in the 20th Century.
We don't actually need to understand which war this is as any war is noise and loss, destruction and fear.
The young narrator shows the ruins of a bombed city, the desert places that he once called 'home' and we see him slowly moving onto a new comfort-zone with the help of his family as everything else is lost. The begging of life after war is finally marked by children's contagious laughter that fills up the silence as they start to play again.

"We were alive. It was like a party"

The book offers some sort of reassurance and sense safety to sugar-coat the reality of extreme loss, destruction and hopelessness that war leaves behind, focusing on celebrating life during and after war, and children's vital instinct to play and to survive.
It's not a comprehensive look at war but it can be a first look at war for primary school children.
The horror of war is something we can't understand ourselves in first place, and honestly I've always found very difficult to find good books about this theme. The Day War Came is also a beautiful and very important book that was released this year to look at, as well as the newly released Tomorrow by Syrian author/illustrator Nadine Kaadan.
Don't be afraid to talk about war to children, just do it in the right away, limiting children's exposure to the news and choosing the right books instead.
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The Beginning [1st April 2012]
English-language edition published by Kalakandra Editora

L'inizio [20th April 2012]
Italian edition published by Kalakandra Italia

Words by Paula Carbaillera
Art by Sonja Danowski
Reading age: 7+
Themes: War, Feeling Safe, Childhood


Children have their rights denied every single day. Every child has the right to be in school and to learn, safe from harm and able to fulfill their potential. Every child deserves love, a childhood and a voice.
If you also think that children's rights are non-negotiable sign the UNICEF petition and #GoBlue to call on world leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child and acknowledge that these rights are non-negotiable. 
Your signature will be handed over to world leaders on 20 November 2019 – the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on The Rights of the Child– calling on them to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child now and for future generations.

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