REPRESENTATION World Children's Day, November 20th

This month, we are celebrating the most important readers in the world — children. Eva Wong Nava, our Representation Feature Editor takes a look at World Children’s Day. As always, books are involved and Eva will be telling you about the unforgettable books that she’s read recently.


World Children’s Day was first born in 1954 and it was known as Universal Children's Day. It is celebrated annually on November 20th, and it is “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.” (source)


Essentially, November 20th is a good day to commemorate this important day as this was the day that the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. On the very same day in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And, since 1990, November 20th marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children's rights, thus giving birth to World Children’s Day. This day is a day to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, and to ensure that we continue to build a better world for children.

The theme for World Children’s Day 2023 is: For every child, every right.


Children’s rights are at the very core of what we do as children’s book writers and illustrators. Every child has the right to see themselves represented in words and pictures. As an advocate for diversity, inclusion and representation in children’s literature, I couldn’t be more excited to write this article and to share with you some unforgettable children’s books I’ve read this year.

I want to talk about David Almond’s The Woman Who Turned Children Into Birds (Walker/Candlewick Studio, 2022), illustrated by Laura Carlin.



This picture book reads like a fairy tale. It starts in a village where a woman named Nanty Solo arrives. She claims that she can turn children into birds. What “balderdash” the big people say and they warn every child to stay away from Nanty Solo. But children being children, you know they won’t, and soon Dorothy Carr is turned into a swallow. Nanty Solo is heard saying, “Go on. Be happy. Up you go.” There is whimsy in this book that makes the adult reader remember being a child again. Indeed, this is what Almond does best — take us back to the time in our lives when we yearned to fly like birds in the sky.


Almond captures so accurately adult fear, which they project on the children. Nanty Solo asks, “What on earth are you frightened of?” And then, the adults are turned into birds as well.

This modern day fairy tale leaves its readers wondering if the children and adults are ever turned back to their human forms, who Nanty Solo really is, and does she really have magical powers. These questions are never answered and some may be left frustrated, but many others would get the whimsy.

Carlin’s illustrations leave us gasping in wonder. We see the characters metamorphosing into birds as the title promises — they take flight as all birds do, emphasising the importance of being free. Freedom is every child’s right! #ForEveryChild, Every Right!


I picked up Kate Peridot’s Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet (Walker Books, 2023) at the recent November SCBWI BI Manchester Conference. Peridot is a nonfiction picture book author, who also write fiction. In this serious book about people who’ve made a difference in the natural world, thus making this world a better place for children, I fell in love with nonfiction once more. As a child, I devoured nonfiction, especially ones about animals and the natural world.


As this is also Nonfiction November, I’d like to give a shout out to Kate Peridot for writing this book and to Sarah Long for her true-to-life vivid depictions of these caring conservationists. If there’s one thing that I know about children, it is that they love knowing about the lives of real people and what they’ve done to become famous. If there are any celebrities I’d like to fangirl about, it is definitely those who do something to save endangered animals in this world. I’ve met one IRL — Dr Jane Goodall. I can tell you that the moment I shook hands with her and she looked into my eyes was a day in history I will never forget.


Last but not least, I’d like to mention Children Of The Benin Kingdom by Dinah Orji, edited by Sonya McGilchrist et al. This book was published by independent press, Dinosaur Books in 2020. This is a fast-paced middle-grade book about a girl named Ada who must go on a quest to find the ancient Edo kingdom of Benin and to connect with her past so she can save the Edo kingdom from falling apart.



If there’s anyone who can save the world, it is the children themselves. But before they can do this, adults must make sure that the children of this world are afforded the rights that are rightfully theirs.


Three things you can you do on November 20th, 2023:


  1. Listen when a child speaks to you on this day, even if they don’t make sense. 
  2. Do one thing to end violence towards children today. 
  3. Plan to do one thing every day for the next year to create a peaceful world, as every child has the right to live in a peaceful one.
 *Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo; 
all other images courtesy of the authors 

Eva Wong Nava is a children’s book author even though she can write for adults. She chose to write for children because she knows that they are the most important readers in this world. World Children’s Day is a her favourite celebration day next to the Chinese New Year. That is why she wrote a picture book entitled I Love Chinese New Year (Scholastic, 2023). Find Eva on X/Twitter and Instagram @evawongnava, or email her 


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact

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