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Free the Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves that Children Can Change the World Paperback – November 17, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (November 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060930659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060930653
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger, upset by a newspaper article about the forced slavery and subsequent murder of a child in Pakistan, began in 1995 to research worldwide injustice against children. Armed with the disturbing facts, he convinced friends at his Canadian grade school to form a group to advocate for children's rights. With world-changing zeal, Free the Children gathered information, wrote world leaders, and led conferences on the issue with other youth. Kielburger himself was given the opportunity to accompany a human rights worker through cities in South Asia.

The young man witnessed shocking abuse from which most middle-class Western children have been carefully shielded: he met an 8-year-old girl whose job was to recycle bloody syringes without gloves or other protection, children in a factory working with extremely hazardous materials to provide fireworks for a Hindu religious celebration, and children sold for sex on urban streets. On returning to his home in Canada, Kielburger bore witness to what he had seen and asked a simple, devastating question: "If child labour is not acceptable for white, middle-class North American kids, then why is it acceptable for a girl in Thailand or a boy in Brazil?"

Free the Children is now a powerful organization in support of the world's youth, and this book is sure to be a call to further action--certainly for all young people, and perhaps for many adults who have previously felt hopeless about the possibility of ending abusive child labor and poverty. "We simply do not believe that world leaders can create a nuclear bomb and send a man to the moon but cannot feed and protect the world's children," says the author. "We simply do not believe it." --Maria Dolan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Three years ago, when he was a 12-year-old Toronto schoolboy who had never taken the subway alone, Kielburger saw a newspaper story about a 12-year-old Pakistani boy who had been shot dead, presumably for his outspoken criticism of the Pakistani carpet industry's use of child labor. The story changed Kielburger's life. More importantly, it made him committed to change the lives of other people. He founded a human rights organization called Free the Children, which is run by children to combat child labor around the world. Shortly after starting the organization, Kielburger realized that, in order to make his points stick and his efforts effective, he needed to know much more than he did. So he set out, in the company of a chaperone, on a seven-week trip to South Asia, visiting Bangkok, Calcutta, Karachi and other cities. This book, written with Major (an author of YA books, including Hold Fast), is an absorbing account, in the form of a travelogue, of a young man's awakening not only to injustice and bone-crushing poverty but also to the beauty and diversity of the world and its cultures. Kielburger's story of moral outrage followed by extraordinary dedication and action is inspirational. It will make great reading for both parents and their children, who, on the cusp of adulthood, will see in Kielburger proof that they can make a difference.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Dunn on December 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I too saw Craig at NCYC in St. Louis last month. For those who don't know, NCYC is the National Catholic Youth Conference. There were close to 22,000 Teens and young adults at this conference when Craig spoke. We were all in the TWA dome, and you could have heard a pin drop it was so silent. He really grabbed our attention and moved us all to become advocates for the Children. I had to buy his book, and speak to him afterwards. I told him he was very inspirational, and a great role model for his peers, and he responded "the best compliment you can give me is to get active for the children, this is their cause". (Something along those lines at least.) This book gives us all great insight to the horrors that children of the world have to face. We have it so easy here in the USA it's about time someone opened our eyes! And it's amazing that a group of 12 year olds started an organization that has grown world wide in only 4 years. You can bet my church group is going to start helping.
Read this book...you'll want to help too.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dizziey on November 1, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
"Free the Children" is an excellent book on the issue of child labor. Craig Kielburger, a 12 years old Canadian became an activist after reading from the newspaper that Iqbal Masih, also another 12 years old from Pakistan was killed because of his support for the abolition of child labor. Soon, Craig started the "Free the Children" foundation, consists of only school children and their goal is to bring awareness to the issue of child labor. In order to learn more about this issue, Craig travelled to South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and to Thailand, hoping to meet the children himself.
His detailed explanation of his trip was quite horrifying. Craig saw that the children were working as much as 10-12 hours a day for a mere US $1-2. Some of the children worked at firework factories where injuries were common and no safety measures were taken. Other times, children were beaten if they do not work. The most disturbing part of the book was his investigations in Bangkok where sex trade was rampant. Children were used as sex tools to lure tourists. The emotional, mental and physical scars that these children bore were immeasurable.
"Free the Children" for me personally, is quite an inspiring book as it shows how one person can make a difference. In addition, it is quite an eye-opener as Craig argues, with examples, why child labor should be abolished and how each and everyone of us can assist in that. I highly recommend this book to anyone as it is extremely educational and motivational. I would caution parents on the part of Bangkok to young children as it can be quite disturbing and graphic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "jj223" on December 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading Free The Children I feel as though my eyes have been opened to another world. Craig Kielburger managed to keep me interested while successfully telling his story.
At times I laughed while I read the book. However at times I was horrified by what I was reading.
Free The Children has shown me that one person or a small group of people can make a difference, it has also given me the inspiration that I needed to get on with my life. My problems are nothing compared to what others in the world go through.
All over, Free The Children is well worth the read and I would strongly recomment this book to adults as well as children.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Goodman on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Craig and Marc's stories are so amazing. I used to think that I can't make a difference in the world because I am only 14 years old. This book taught me that even the smallest of actions can create a ripple that affects more people than I can ever imagine. The ideas in this book are really quite simple, but when articulated so clearly by Marc and Craig, it just makes so much sense.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved "Free the Children", it's one of the best books i have read in a long, long time. Craig has a way of bringing what he saw and did to life, he makes you feel like you are there with him on his journey across Asia. I have got to see Craig in real life at a NCYC conference in St.Louis, Missouri. From the moment i heard him i had to get his book. This is an inspirational book, i think everybody should read this book to see how big of a problem child labor really is, and how FTC is helping children around the world. I definatly give this book 5 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on a whim and was pleasently surprised. Craig Kielburger's adventures around S/SE Asia are both entertaining and shocking. The horrible conditions that many children endure in that part of the world (India, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh) are well documented through the eyes of Craig, the 12 y/o Canadian who (with numerous school-age friends) started the Free the Children foundation. However, there are also moments of humor as Craig shares his tribulations with everything from the local foods to run-ins with border guards and street vendors.
Free the Children is an inspiring story that any adult or adolescent would enjoy. One note to parents: while I think a child as young as perhaps 9 or 10 could enjoy this book, I would caution you that topics such as Thailand's underage sex-trade, as well as the extreme abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) suffered by many child labors, are discussed - but certainly not in any exploitative or inapproriate fashion.
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