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Children, You Have the Right: An Interview with Reza Dalvand

Reza Dalvand was born in Andimeshk, Iran. After studying graphic design, he went on to complete a master’s degree in Illustration at the University of Tehran, where he currently lives. Reza has illustrated many books for children and his work is internationally recognized. I Have the Right is outstanding and such an important read for children, introducing them to the concept of their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - and reminding their adults. Not only does it have beautiful poetic text, it is also extraordinarily illustrated in Reza's unique style. The books speaks to us all and reminds us that there are still some children whose rights are challenged, and who must be protected.

Thank you to Reza for answering these questions for Louise Ellis-Barrett and to Liz Scott and Scribble for making this all possible.

Could you start by telling us why you chose to create a picture book about children's rights and how you decided which to include?

It was a group decision, and I was fortunate to work with a strong team on this book. I have always been passionate about producing a book focusing on children's rights. I touched on the subject in a couple of my fiction books indirectly, but I never had the opportunity to work on a book explicitly focused on this topic. A few conversations into the discussion with the original publisher in France, the team decided we would go ahead with this important project. Our objectives in selecting the rights we did, was to include a comprehensive plan of all children's needs: emotional, financial, security, educational and developmental needs.

What aspect of your work as an illustrator is the most important to you? Your style is unique and strong. What is it that encouraged you to illustrate and why?

From a young age, I felt that the art of illustration was what I was good at. Over the years the audience and my teacher's feedback, encouraged me to continue and get better. My interaction with kids who read my work and enjoy my art has helped me fall in love with the work, something that makes it worthwhile every day.

My perfectionist side drives me to be more creative in each book than the previous work. I hope that I can attract my audiences with the picture book and that they will choose my books from among all the attractive media that has covered the world and love my work.

When I get positive feedback back for my work, especially from my readers, it is a most gratifying experience. Almost every day I receive kind and motivating messages in the mail, and on social networks. It makes me strong and determined and shows me that I am as effective as I can, and that I can be an inspiration.

We are sharing your book with our readers to bring attention to World Refugee Day. Do you have any personal experience? How do you think this book can help children to have a better understanding of what it means to be a refugee?

Unfortunately, I am very familiar with the difficulties that drive people to abandon their homes in search of security and freedom. I know many of my countrymen who have sought refuge in other countries, and here in Iran, I have friends from Afghanistan who escaped even worse conditions over there. Through their experience, I have learned of a different and harsher world, and they help me appreciate what I have.

I always find it important to understand, that life as a refugee has both good and bad experiences. I wish more people would treat refugees as they do their equal citizens. Through this book, I hope more people with learn that all human beings have the right to live, the right to a better life, and the right to freedom and to live in a healthy environment.

When everyone knows their rights, they demand their rights, and accepts the same for others. This is just a first step.

Not every illustration in the book has accompanying text because there are two pages of illustration. Was this intentional to allow for discussion of the rights?

You are right, this indeed was intentional. It was very important for me not to pass the basic rights of children too quickly. Giving the children who read my book space, pause, and time, to digest the information and engrave the message in their mind. I tried to focus on one right for every page. Without additional explanation, only that right should be told so that the importance of that right is pointed out and understood.

How did you feel about creating this book? Do you hope it will be read by children around the world and help them to understand not only that they have rights, but so do all children, all people, wherever they are?

This is my dream! I hope that this book is in every library, in every school and in every home and wherever there is a child. From remote areas to rich areas, everyone should know their rights and others so that we can live together as human beings and friends.

I love the spread "I have the right to a home where I can thrive." Do you have a favourite spread?

I have the right to be loved.

To me, love is the bedrock of all other rights and needs of a child. It does not matter how one defines love, all beings deserve to express their love and deserve to be shown and feel love.

Thank you again for sharing some of your thoughts on this important book with our readers, we look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

I Have the Right by Reza Dalvand is published in the UK by Scribble Kids Books | Available now | Picture Book for children age 3+ | Hardback | £12.99


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