A children’s illustration book of human rights

Amnesty International is set to release a book that aims to teach children about human rights through the power of illustration and inspirational quotations.

Dreams of Freedom, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, is a 48-page picture book that includes the words of human rights figures such as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Anne Frank, alongside illustrative depictions by artists worldwide. 

The book has been published to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Greater Charter of Liberties. It is a follow-up to Amnesty International’s last picture book We Are All Born Free, published in 2008.

Janetta Otter-Barry edited both books, and worked in collaboration with Amnesty International to compile the quotations.

Children’s author Michael Morpurgo has written the foreword to the book, and says, “Dreams of Freedom is a feast of visual stories – brave words and beautiful pictures, woven together to inspire young readers to stand up for others and to make a difference.”

Illustrator Jackie Morris was asked to illustrate a quote from Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman, who wrote about the oppression of women. Morris created an image of a Bengal cat trying to catch a caged chaffinch bird.

“I’ve always had a thing about cages and bars,” she says. “The cages we put ourselves in, and that other people put us in. I started with a much more complex scene, but then stripped away all the clutter.”

She adds: “At first sight, it’s a cage with no escape, and there’s a lock there with no key. But it’s two-dimensional, almost like a screen of separation, with no back to the cage – I wanted to give it hope.”

Morris, who has previously illustrated calendars, T-shirts and Christmas cards for Amnesty, hopes that the book will help children understand life issues as they grow up, she says: “Children have a hard time growing up, with a lot of expectations on them. This is making them aware of their rights and the dangers in the world, and teaching them about the freedom to be themselves.”

“This is my way of trying to help make a fairer world by using images,” she says. “Because my painting is my voice, really.”

Dreams of Freedom will be published 5 March, and is available for pre-order from Amnesty International’s website. All royalties will be donated to the charity.

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