New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

UN/Steven Bornholtz Ari Afsar, singer, songwriter and storyteller, reads at the SDG Media Zone during the High-Level Political Forum 2019 at UNHQ. (10 July 2019)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


For children in Chad, getting an education can involve manual labour. That’s because, every year, there’s a chance that the rainy season will destroy their school, and they will have to join their teachers in rebuilding it. This is the story recounted in the children’s book “Rain School”, which is on the reading list of the UN’s SDG Book Club.

Every day brings news about wars, humanitarian crises, and the climate emergency. These subjects can be a source of fear and nightmares for children, and parents can struggle to find the best way to explain them in a balanced way that does not worry their children even more. The SDG Book Club is one way to help.

The Club, which was set up in April by the UN, in collaboration with several book-related partners, selects books which contain messages related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, with the aim of providing a playful and participative way to learn about the Goals, through stories and characters children can relate to.

Book suggestions from around the world are reviewed, and a reading list for children aged between six and 12 is compiled and promoted on the SDG Book Club website and elsewhere, in the six official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

“Rain school” illustrates that quality education (Sustainable Development Goal 4) can’t be taken for granted for all children, and shows that, no matter your age, you can take action to improve your life and the lives of others.

Another example from the reading list is “Thank you, Omu!”, a favourite amongst the Book Club staff, which tells the story of an elderly woman who cooks a delicious stew which smells so good, that people on the street stop and knock on her door asking for it. The book teaches a lesson about zero hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2), and about helping and caring for others.

Parents can find out more by reading the SDG Book Club Blog, which contains stories from book clubs, educators and parents from around the world, who have used the books to discuss complex issues, like poverty or health, with their children, helping them take concrete steps to help others in their communities.

The Club also encourages feedback and dialogue on social media, using the hashtag #SDGBookClub, and tagging @UNPublications.

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