Title: Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth
Author: Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie & Geraldine Van Bueren
Publisher: Andersen Press
Genre: Teen/young adult non-fiction, Law – human rights
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR RIGHTS.  Know them and claim them.
As a young person, you have human rights, no matter who you are or where you live.  They include the freedom to speak out and express your opinions, as well as rights to equality, health, a clean environment, a safe place to live and protection from harm.  But rights are often denied.  Governments and adults should uphold them, but don’t always do so.
This book explains your rights.  It highlights the powerful work of young activists across the world.  And it gives you tools to navigate the law, to take action and to demand what is rightfully yours.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  I really don’t know what to say about this book.  On the one hand the idea of this book is brilliant and very important but when it comes to how this book was written, I’m just not sure if this book will really be enjoyed by its target audience.  ‘Know Your rights and Claim Them’ is a non-fiction book aimed at teens, teaching them exactly what rights they have and how they can make sure they can claim those rights.

Know Your Rights and Claim Them book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

The book begins with an introduction to the history of children’s rights and how they came about before moving on to explaining what all the different ‘rights of the Child’ are.  These include the right to play, identity, freedom of thought, etc.  Each right is shown in an easy to understand table before being broken down into more detail with a description of each individual right as well as an explanation for what it means for children/teens and what the reality is of this right in our world today.

Although the basic information about what each right is and what it means for children reading this book is easy to understand and explained quite well, I do think that the further explanations of what the reality is of these rights in the world and, how many children in different countries don’t have these rights upheld, is where the book started to falter a little for me.  These sections often go on for far too long explaining how unjust the world is and in what ways many children find their rights violated or not upheld.  These sections do go into some detail about things that happen to some children like rape, slavery, murders, and could be a little overwhelming for more sensitive teens reading this who hope to just find out what their rights are.  Apart from these sections detailing the reality of the world for many children and teenagers, before showing another Right, the book shows some real life teenagers from around the world and how they have or are taking action and fighting for their rights.

Each ‘right’ is explained well, but I felt that these parts on the reality as well as the teens taking action just made the whole book feel too long.  When I first started reading this book I thought all the rights would be explained properly first and then these sections about these inspiring young people making a difference in the world would be in a separate chapter, but everything is dumped together making each ‘right’ so long to read about and the chapter on what your rights are is so large it takes up the majority of the entire book!  As a result, when reading it I found it hard to quickly read about a specific right as there’s so much other information dumped along with it.

The information about all the children and teens fighting for their rights was very interesting and I found myself enjoying learning about so many inspirational young people.  Some of them are teens now while other stories follow the stories of people who were children/teens at the time of their inspirational protesting, campaigning, etc.  I really enjoyed reading about all of these stories especially as they contained both well known to me people like Greta Thunberg and some not so well known teens (to me) from around the world.

The last main chapter of the book is filled with information about claiming your rights.  I like how this explains what teens can do such as contacting politicians and going on peaceful marches.  But parts of this chapter are very long and go on about such details like what to do if you encounter tear gas or the police wanting to arrest you, that I don’t know in the end if this book would have made me feel empowered as a teenager or a little worried about what could happen if I tried to protest, and I’m also not sure about the advice that meeting strangers (who want to meet you if you become well known for campaigning) should be done when you go with someone, though it’s okay to meet someone alone  if it’s a very public place.

The last part of the book features a glossary of many of the terms used in the book as well as information on the organisations around the world, UK and Austraila and New Zealand which can be contacted for help or information.  I would have preferred if these organisations had some contact information rather than relying on the reader having to search online, especially after the book does mention things like poverty which could make it harder for teens to just search for something online.

After reading this book I don’t know what to think.  While this book is great and filled with important information on the rights of every child and teenager which everyone should know, I think the way the book has been written just misses the mark and I found myself struggling to get through the material.  Although some reviewers have said it was easy to read, I found it very difficult.  Much of the writing contained words or phrases that even I had to look up a few times in the glossary.  I’m not used to the whole legal jargon and some of the words used just didn’t feel like something that a young person might even know.  I certainly know that the teen me would have found reading this very difficult.

As well as some of the words and phrases using such words that made it flow less well, it just felt like sections about the reality of our world were so long, that as, one reviewer put it, it really is large blocks of information dumping, and I have to admit that it did take me a long time to read this book as I sometimes read something and then completely forgot what I had read after just reading it.  It feels like it wasn’t written by an author who knows how to communicate information to younger people.

Overall what the publishers and authors have tried to do is good.  I think the chance for children to know what all of their rights are is very important.  I certainly didn’t know of the rights I had as a child and a book explaining these and how to claim them if I’m being denied some rights is a great idea.  But this book just feels too long and I feel it could have been better written and arranged with perhaps information on inspirational teens in a separate chapter.  The forward by Angelina Jolie is good, but the rest of the book just feels a mixture of partly easy reading and some more difficult to read passages.

Know Your Rights and Claim Them book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

Though the intention was good I do think for some children and teens, especially those perhaps who haven’t been educated in using a range of ‘legal terms’, might find it hard reading this and I just think this book would have been far better if it had been condensed to a smaller size, and concentrated more on the rights and the basic points of how to claim them, rather than go into such detail that left me, an adult, struggling to read.  I don’t know if part of the problem is one of the authors is a QC so perhaps didn’t know how to explain these issues easier to kids but it just didn’t work for me and it took me a long time to get through this book as I just constantly wanted to put it down due to such long parts.  As I said the intention is good and rating is therefore not about the idea of children knowing their rights (which I do think is very important), but the way the book is written, just isn’t done well unfortunately and could have been much shorter and more succinct.

What do you think of this book?  Did you know all of your rights as a child?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂