________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 3 . . . . October 2, 1998

cover Listen to Us: The World's Working Children.

Jane Springer.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1997.
96 pp, cloth & paper, $24.95 (cl), $16.95 (pbk).
ISBN 0-888-99-291-2 (cl), 0-88899-307-2 (pbk).

Subject Heading:
Children-Employment-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***1/2 /4

image Listen to Us: The World's Working Children is a deeply disturbing book. It is both a depressing and uplifting exploration of child labour as it exists in the industrial and developing world today. Written by Jane Springer, who has spent over a deca de living in developing countries and working with organizations such as CUSO and UNICEF, Listen to Us is a balanced and sensitive account of this challenging and complex issue.

      Springer begins with the inspiring story of Iqbal Masih, a twelve year-old Pakistani hero who was shot to death shortly after receiving international awards for his part in helping free three thousand Pakistani children from forced labour. The author then moves into a discussion of four of the five W's dear to the hearts of journalists: "What is Child Labour?," "Why Do Children Work?," "Where Do We Find Child Labour?," and "What Work Do Children Do?" She is careful to make reference to the history of child labour through the ages and follows this aspect of the subject up in more detail in Chapter 6, which includes a time line of important dates from the thirteenth century to Iqbal Masih 's murder in 1995.

      Listen to Us focuses not only on the exploitative and hazardous work that children do in the developing countries, but it also takes a careful look at the situation in industrialized countries, including our own, of street children, children worki ng for their families and adolescents' work. The author assumes that her readers will have little or no prior knowledge of her subject and, in straightforward language, does an excellent job of expounding on such key concepts as globalization, consumerism , the role of unions and attitudes toward girls and women. To ensure the accessibility and usefulness of her book to young readers, Springer has provided an excellent glossary, index and bibliography.

      Springer's clear and informative text is accompanied by feature profiles of children working in various jobs around the world. Riveting photographs of her subjects, plus sidebars, maps and charts, combine to make Listen To Us a book which is diffi cult to put down. Springer ends her book by addressing ways we can really listen to what working children want, and how young people can work together to help combat child labour and to make changes in the lives of working children. Though the length of the book and the amount of detail provided will prove daunting to students with less than a grade six reading level, its relevant subject matter, size and attractive format should make it a worthwhile addition to the middle-school and junior high school library.


Val Nielsen is a teacher-librarian at Bairdmore School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364