Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Michael Morpurgo - stupendous advocate for children's rights

This year's Richard Dimbleby lecture was a storming piece of polemic in support of children and their rights, given by Michael Morpurgo. One of his great strengths as a writer is the humanity of his central characters - you believe not only their story but identify with their feelings; you are emotionally involved with them however different their lives may be from your own.

He brought the same skill to his Dimbleby lecture, drawing on the real lives of children as well as his own characters to tell the story of children's experiences in the UK and elsewhere, and the degree to which their rights are flouted. He weaved together the meanings for children of the very different personal crises they live with: the imprisonment of asylum-seeking children in British detention centres, which ended only recently; the enforced separation of Palestinian and Israeli children living on either side of the Gaza wall, and the murder of some who stray to close to it; the daily pressure of the goal-driven schooling endured by all infant and primary children in England. As I said, storming!

Sadly, the February lecture is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, so you can't hear or watch Michael Morpurgo deliver it, but you can still read the text of what he said on his website.

And if you've never read any of his books, my favourite is Kensuke's Kingdom, and I recommend it to anyone, whatever their age.