Pesky rats and children in need

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Lauren Child, one of the world best known children’s authors and the creator of Charlie and Lola is donating the royalties from her best-selling book “That Pesky Rat” for three years to UNESCO’s Programme for the Education of Children in Need.

UNESCO created the Programme for the Education of Children in Need in 1992 to offer a future to vulnerable children through education. Since its creation, over US$33 million has been raised in private funds and these have been fully and directly invested into immediate support for over 332 projects in 92 countries worldwide.

The Programme forges alliances with pioneering projects across the world. Since 1992, alliances with over 330 groundbreaking projects in 92 countries have helped countless street children, child prostitutes, boy soldiers, working children, young refugees and child victims of illness, conflict and natural disasters.

To mark the agreement an enhanced edition of “That Pesky Rat” has been released. The fantastic new edition contains information from Lauren about why she’s working with UNESCO along with details of its programmes with children in need and the stories of children who’ve benefited from the programme.

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The partnership also encompasses “My Life is a Story”, a campaign initiated by Lauren to collect stories of children around the world. At first these life stories, written or recorded, will come from children participating in projects affiliated with UNESCO’s Programme for the Education of Children in Need. Later, schools will be invited to take part in the project and their pupils encouraged to produce stories for inclusion on the website. The aim is to enable children from very different backgrounds to share what that have in common and learn more about how their lives are different.

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In addition to sales and promotion of That Pesky Rat, bookshops and schools in the United Kingdom are poised to use the book in stimulating classroom debate and enhancing curriculum work. Workshops on the book are envisaged in primary schools and Pesky-based activities are currently being planned. The Lauren Child exhibition touring Britain contains a whole walk-in set from That Pesky Rat and a panel explaining the character’s new commitment to UNESCO’s cause.

I’ve got to say that the integration of development education and charitable fundraising into an existing and highly successful brand has been done extremely well. Something for which congratulations must go to Lauren’s publisher Hachette Children’s.

For the launch of the initiative indigenous women at UNESCO’s textile co-operative in Oaxaca, Mexico made a limited number of soft pesky rates. I was lucky enough to secure one, a photo of whom you can see at the top of this article. Lauren had been to the UNESCO supported Renacimiento a hostel for street children in Mexico City which made the link with the Mexican women’s co-operative all the more powerful.

I think this might be a model for other authors and publishers looking to develop public interest publishing projects.

A version of this post also appeard on

Ode

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