Over a decade ago, inspired by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, Kids Can Press debuted the CitizenKid collection of books to introduce children to global issues and inspire them to be better global citizens. So far, 22 titles have been published in the series, and they have been translated into 26 languages. The collection has been popular with schools in the U.S. and Canada, and some titles have been recommended by the UN for its Sustainable Development Goals Book Club, including David J. Smith’s This Child, Every Child, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong, a compilation of stories and facts that offers kids a glimpse into the lives of fellow children around the world. In May, CitizenKid: Earth Comes First—the first of a series of CitizenKid documentaries—premiered and was selected for the prestigious UN Association Film Festival, which runs later this month.
Among the most popular books in the CitizenKid series has been One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Rosemary Woods, which has sold close to 500,000 copies worldwide. The latest books in the collection focus on girls’ and women’s rights: 111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh, illustrated by Marianne Ferrer, and The International Day of the Girl: Celebrating Girls Around the World by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Rona Ambrose, illustrated by Simone Shin. Ambrose is a Canadian politician who led the global movement at the UN to create this day to recognize girls.
Six titles in the CitizenKid series have been published in paperback for the first time this year, helping them reach the broader, growing audience of children interested in social justice issues. Among them is Michel Chikwanine’s Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War, a graphic novel depicting his harrowing experiences as a child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his family’s struggles as refugees, and his journey to a new life in Canada. The book—coauthored by Jessica Dee Humphreys and illustrated by Claudia Dávila—was originally published in 2015.
Chikwanine, now an activist, notes that the publication of the book reached kids in a new way: “I found, when I spoke at schools, I was more than that guy they saw give a speech on YouTube. I was an ‘author.’ Kids are always very excited to meet the author of a book they’ve read and enjoyed,” he says. The experience highlights “just how important books continue to be in such a globalized, tech-driven world.”