Amnesty’s top books for kids & teens

7 August 2017, 13:20 UTC |

Amnesty’s top picks explore and celebrate human rights - including themes of family life, justice, racism and the refugee crisis - and have been selected for three age ranges: younger readers (3-7 years); junior readers (8-12 years); and teens (13-16 years). 

Reads for young children 3-7 years 

Welcome, by Barroux, the story of three polar bears set adrift in the ocean after part of their ice float suddenly breaks off. It explores themes of difference, belonging and climate change and has powerful echoes with the current refugee crisis.

No!, by David McPhail, tells the tale of a young boy in a war-torn country, who sets off to post a letter and witnesses an act of cruelty on his way. It highlights how everybody – even young children – is capable of taking a stand against oppression.

What Are You Playing At?, by Marie-Sabine Roger, a ‘lift-the-flap’ book challenging gender norms around childhood play. The book demonstrates that all children should be free to develop as wide range of interests.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms, by Chris Riddell, featuring 16 different freedoms, each accompanied by beautiful illustrations. It shows why our human rights are so important - they help to keep us safe every day.

Odd Dog Out, by Rob Biddulph, is a story of a lonely dog who packs her bags for Doggywood, where she feels she belongs. Itemphasises the importance of individuality and the freedom to live as one chooses.


There’s a Bear on My Chair, by Ross Collins, awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour 2016, is a witty portrayal of activism and peaceful protest, told through the story of a tiny mouse attempting to move a bear from his favourite chair.

I Have the Right to Be a Child, by Alain Serres and illustrated by Aurélia Fronty, uses pictures to bring the Convention on the Rights of the Child to life and help young readers understand their rights.

A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara, an ABC book written and illustrated for kids to grow up in a space unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and everything else that activists fight for. 



Reads for junior readers 8-12 years 

The Bone Sparrow, by Zana Fraillon, winner of the Amnesty CILIP Honour 2017, highlights the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya people and details life inside a detention centre in Australia. Ultimately, the novel celebrates the indefatigable spirit of a child caught between borders, imprisoned simply for seeking refuge

Dreams of Freedom, Amnesty’s latest book, which combines the words of human rights heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai, with beautiful illustrations from renowned international artists.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, follows Sputnik and Prez on a series of unbelievable mishaps, scrapes and adventures, and celebrates the importance of finding a home in a very big universe.

Tender Earth, by Sita Brahmachari,11-year-old Laila Levenson feels daunted by secondary school but begins to find her own voice after discovering Nana Josie's protest book. A touching portrait revealing how even the youngest members of society have the capacity to become human rights defenders.

A Story Like The Wind, by Jill Lewis and illustrated by Jo Weaver, tells intertwined stories about loneliness, the need for shelter, and how music can provide solace. It can provoke important conversations concerning the plight of refugees.

The Journey, by Francesca Sanna, explores the theme of migration through a child’s eyes as a mother and her two young children are forced to flee their country.


Two Weeks with the Queen, by Morris Gleitzman, follows Colin, a young boy who has a plan to break into Buckingham Palace. It is a witty and empathetic book that deals with some difficult themes, such as bereavement and homophobia. Gleitzman has an extraordinary ability to convey a child’s perspective with humour and insight. 

The Hypnotist, by Laurence Anholttells the tale of 13-year-old Pip who has to battle racial hatred when he goes to work as a farmhand. Set during the civil rights struggles of 1960s America, it explores the nature of prejudice and racist violence in a thoughtful and original way.


Reads for teens 13-16 years 

Here I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom, a compelling collection of stories, poems and graphic narratives put together by Amnesty which explore different aspects of our human rights. One striking feature of the book is how it challenges our preconceptions that human rights abuses only occur far away. 

The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson, is a powerful portrayal of two young people struggling to assert their identity in an often hostile and unforgiving world.




Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley, is a coming-of-age novel about two brave young women who confront racism and homophobia to live as they choose. It is rare to hear stories featuring young gay people of colour in young adult's fiction, and for that reason this is a very important book.

The Stars at Oktober Bend, by Glenda Millard, is narrated by 15-year-old Alice Nightingale who has suffered a brain injury and struggles to express herself. It explores themes of sexual assault, poverty and racism.



The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is inspired by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and follows 16-year-old Starr, whose life changes forever when she witnesses a policeman murder her childhood friend, Khalil.



Alpha, by Bessora and Barroux, is a graphic novel that follows the story of a father who leaves Ivory Coast in the hope of reaching Paris to be reunited with his wife and child.

Straight Outta Crongton, by Alex Wheatle, follows 15-year-old Mo growing up in the tough, crime-ridden neighbourhood of South Crong.




Orangeboy, by Patrice Lawrence, is a fast-paced thriller that gives an original and fresh perspective on the struggles facing London’s teenagers and the pressures that surround gang culture.