Universal Children’s Day

The Right to Play by Arja Gullvik (11 years) Rainworth State School Created as part of the project ‘Children have rights’. ACC 7116/1/22 Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Article 31 of The Convention on the Rights of the Child

  1. States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

On 20 November 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and opened this significant treaty for signatures. In the following thirty years 194 countries have become signatories to this Convention making the Convention on the Rights of the Child the most widely ratified treaty in history with each signatory state committing to ensure the protection, survival, and development of all children, without discrimination.

To mark both this occasion and the adoption of the declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20 and commemorates the important commitments world leaders have made to our children. The goal of Universal Children’s Day is to raise awareness of issues that impact our children’s welfare, to improve the conditions of childhood worldwide and to promote and celebrate children’s rights.

These rights include the right to identity, education, the right for children to practice their own culture, language and religion and the right to have an opinion and to share that opinion with others. The State Library of Queensland joins the worldwide community to observe and celebrate Universal Children’s Day and commits to valuing children as competent, curious and creative people with a right to participate in all aspects of life and invites children and families to enjoy State Library’s spaces, programs, exhibitions and collections.

To learn more about children’s rights visit the Children’s Voices pages on the State Library website to find resources for children and families that explore the Convention and artworks by children that illustrate the convention in action. These drawings, paintings and linocuts, held in the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive, John Oxley Library, were made by children in response to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, more children’s artwork from this collection can be found in the 2018 Children’s Report: Australia’s NGO coalition report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Visit Jarjum Stories, in kuril dhagun, a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s books and storytelling. Jarjum [pronounced jah-jum] means children. This colourful showcase highlights the role of storytelling in sharing language, cultural knowledge and moral lessons across generations and invites you to revisit childhood favourites – The Rainbow Serpent, Stradbroke Dreamtime and The Legends of Moonie Jarl and to see the world through the eyes of jarjum in the exploration of stories created with children across Queensland including a bilingual Yugambeh story book. Continue your Jarjum Stories adventure in The Corner, a place for children and families to play, create and share stories everyday.

State Library collects, preserves and makes discoverable Queensland stories from Queenslanders of all ages including photographs depicting Queensland childhood. Here are some highlights from the John Oxley Library collection.

Roy by Roy, aged 6, from Brisbane, Australia. Created as part of the project ‘Our World’. ACC 7116/3/87 Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Enjoy more of the State Library’s collection of children’s stories and artwork from the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive 1986-2016 in the upcoming State Library exhibition in early 2020. For updates, follow us on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stella Read – Senior Project Officer, State Library of Queensland