“I lost my childhood. I didn’t play football or video games. Or have birthdays or the love of a family.” – Emmanual Jal, South-Sudanese Canadian musician and former child soldier
Canada is about to become the first country in the world to issue military guidelines on how to deal with child soldiers. Retired senator Romeo Dallaire – who wrote the forward for Eric Walter’s Shattered, a young-adult novel about a soldier suffering post-traumatic stress disorder – helped draft the new rules.
Under the proposed guidelines, Canadian troops will be taught how to identify child soldiers who might be a threat to them. They will be taught how to care for child soldiers who are detained. These new guidelines are vital as Canadian troops expect to encounter more and more child soldiers in coming years.
Here are five books about the plight of child soldiers around the world:
Humphries, Jessica Dee and Michel Chikwanine. Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2015.
This graphic novel tells the true story of author Michel Chikwanine who came to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa when he was 16 years old. Background information and suggestions for further research accompany this powerful autobiography recommended for readers 11 years old and up.
McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. New York : Balzer + Bray, 2012.
Arn is forced to serve as a child soldier in Cambodia in this disturbing novel – based on a true story – recommended for readers thirteen years old and up.
McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2008.
Three children – Hannah, Jacob, and Oteka – find themselves trapped in Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army in this suspense-filled novel for readers 12 years old and up.
Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge, 2010.
Chiko – forced to join the Burmese army- and Tu Reh – a runaway from a refugee camp – unexpectedly stumble upon each other in the jungle in this harrowing novel for readers 12 years old and up.
Stratton, Allan. Chanda’s Wars. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2008.
African teenager Chanda Kabelo and her siblings try to escape after they are kidnapped by General Mandiki’s rebel army in this dramatic novel recommended for readers thirteen years old and up.
Click HERE for more information about the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.