Happy Peace Day, folks!
Today, September 21, is recognized as the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. As the UN describes it, “Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.” It’s a moment to pause and reflect on peace or to literally cease firing at one another.
In 2018, #PeaceDay overlaps with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The two being intertwined, it seems an apt opportunity to talk about how peace can only be achieved by bringing about a world in which human rights are upheld for all, and human rights can only be upheld if we start from a place of mutual understanding, respect, and empathy.
If you’re to broach this conversation with students, books can help shape their understanding – as can just getting to know one another beyond tropes and stereotypes.
- From Medium, a 2016 article on “Children’s Literature as a Vehicle for Peace” by Summer Edward, Editor-in-Chief of Anansesem.
“…is there anything more important than creating a peaceful world for our children? If we are not here on earth to be vehicles for peace, to add our voice, our energy and our talents to the task of creating a better world, then what are we here for? Is social justice an elite tool to be wielded in the hands of a few acclaimed activists or is it a human imperative to which each individual is called? These are serious questions for each and every human being.”
- “50 Books About Peace and Social Justice” from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).
- Social Justice Books. Run by Teaching for Change, this website provides “more than 50 carefully selected lists of multicultural and social justice books for children, young adults, and educators.”
- “Picture Books with a Message” from the Teach Peace Now website. This is a long list of carefully selected books on topics such as Anti-War and Peace Education, Activism and Social Justice, Anti-Racism/Anti-Bias Books, Anti-Bullying, and Conflict Resolution | Kindness & Caring | Cooperation, among others.
- “30 Children’s Books About Diversity that Celebrate Our Differences” from Bookriot.
- “2018 We’re the People Summer Reading List.” This may be last but is certainly not least. It’s a curated collection of books that celebrate “diversity and all its intersections” put together “by and about IPOC (Indigenous and People of Color), people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQ| community. Chosen books are thoroughly discussed, vetted and given second reads.”
Let us know in the comments if there are other resources you turn to for discussing peace, change making, empathy, and human rights with your students, or other ways you frame these discussions.