Bear With Me: Law for little ones.

AuthorMitchell, Teresa
PositionSuggested books for children about law and justice - Recommended readings

Children, even from infancy, learn about rules. They are told not to run with sharp objects, not to touch a hot stove, and that when darkness falls, they will be expected to go to bed. As children grow, they learn about the rules that govern the world around them. They begin to learn that they exist in a society with other people and that rules will help them to get along with others.

How do we teach children about complex and multi-layered concepts such as justice and laws as embodied in the legal system? One of the best ways to accomplish this learning is with stories. There are innumerable excellent storybooks aimed at every age of child, from early elementary school to Grade 6, which help with this task. Let's look at some options.

The Wise Owls

A good starting place when looking at the making of laws could begin with a book published by the Senate of Canada called The Wise Owls. Published in 2018, this book is aimed at elementary school children and explains our parliamentary system. It begins with a group of animals in the forest who begin to wonder if they need to be ruled by a lioness who, although much loved, lives far away across the ocean. They had learned that they accomplished more when they worked together than if they worked alone. They decided to create a Council of Animals that would elect members to make rules and decisions for the good of them all. However, as the years passed, they learned that what's good for one animal is not necessarily good for all of them. A bear says:

The Council is a good idea, but I wonder--maybe we could ask the owls to help. They can travel to parts of the forest where we cannot go. Could the Owls give their views on the council's decisions to make sure the needs of all the animals everywhere in the forest are met? The animals thought this was a very good idea and they made up a name for this group--the Senate of Owls. When disputes arose, the Wise Owls helped. One Wise Owl said:

The Senate of Owls is here to help you... In our journeys, we have watched you and spoken to you and listened to you. We have seen that the needs of Foxes are not those of Rabbits and that your differences are what make this Forest such a beautiful place to live. We will carry your voices from the four corners of the Forest to the Council of Animals. The story concludes:

As the years passed, different animals came and went from the Council. But the Senate of Owls remained to give the Council of Animals the benefit of...

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