Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Universal declaration of children's rights to listen to stories

(This declaration in ten points has been circulating among Spanish and Latin-American storytellers for decades, and has been recently posted again by the Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos. I made an English translation so it can spread even further.)

1. Every child, regardless of race, language or religion, has the right to listen to the most beautiful stories of every nation, especially the ones that inspire their imagination and teach them critical thinking.

2. Children have every right to demand a story from their parents any hour of the day. Parents who refuse to tell stories to their children do not only commit a serious crime, but they also risk that the children will never ask for a story again.

3. Every child that for some reason does not have anyone to tell them stories has the right to ask any adult of their choice. The adult shall tell the stories with kindness and love, for that is how stories should be told.

4. Children have the right to listen to stories sitting on their grandparents' knees. The children who have four living grandparents can lend some of them to others who for some reason do not have any. Similarly, grandparents who do not have grandchildren have the freedom to go to schools, parks and other places with many children, and offer to tell as many stories as they want.

5. Every child has the right to know José Martí, Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Elena Fortún, Lewis Carroll, Carlo Collodi, Gloria Fuertes, María Elena Walsh, Frank Baum, J. M. Barrie, Dr. Seuss, and others.

(Every country gets to add their own authors and storytellers, so feel free to add to the list)

6. Every child has full rights to know all the myths, legends and folktales of their own country.

7. Every child has the right to invent and tell their own stories, or make their own versions of existing tales. In cases when children are primarily influenced by television, it is the adults' responsibility to lead them down the pathways of imagination and put good children's books into their hands.

8. Children have the right to demand new stories. Adults are obligated to continually provide these tales, their own or by others, with kings or without, long or short - all that matters is that they are beautiful and interesting.

9. The child always has the right to ask for one more story, or ask for the same story for the millionth time.

10. Last, every child has the right to grow up with Alice, Little Red and the wolf, Dorothy, Puss in Boots, Jack and the beanstalk, the 'happily ever after' and the 'Once upon a time', magic words that open up the gates of imagination, and fill childhood with the most amazing dreams.


  1. Aaah! Thank you for giving us this list! It's new to me & I will pass it on!

  2. I love this but I would definitely change point 6 to include every country's myths and legends. It's been brilliant introducing my daughter to folk tales and traditional stories from all over the world (thanks to innovative publishers who include titles like these in their remit).

    A fabulous awe-inspiring post nonetheless and hear hear!

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