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The Carpet Boy's Gift (Teaching About Child Labor)

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Activities and Additional Resources for the Carpet Boy's Gift

People who put The Carpet Boy's Gift on their reading lists will join ranks with earlier generations who have chosen to introduce children to poverty and injustice by assigning such fiction classics as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and The Adventures of Huck Finn.

The Carpet Boy's Gift is a sensitive introduction to the subject of human rights and the complicated issue of child labor. The central characters, Nadeem and Amina, are bonded child laborers who work in a rug factory in Pakistan. Although their earlier efforts to win freedom have been thwarted, they are inspired after an encounter with Iqbal Masih to continue with their efforts change their lives for the better by insisting on their right to go to school. Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old boy and human rights activist, became a real life hero to thousands in his short life. A particular strength of the book is that the author, Pegi Deitz Shea, depicts Nadeem's and Amina's lives in a balanced light. Readers will see that these children, like children everywhere, have both grim and joyful moments in their lives. The book's message is that all kids share the same basic needs for family and friends, and thrive when given opportunities for education and the chance to participate in games, sports, or the arts.


The Carpet Boy's Gift will help inspire classroom conversations about:

  • Heroes, and learning to make a difference in the your community;
  • The world of work (for elementary school aged children);
  • Rug-making techniques and traditional designs for rugs;
  • Culture of Pakistan and Middle East;
  • Consumer awareness habits;
  • Poverty and human rights;
  • The role of the UN and Universal Children's Rights;
  • Ethics in the global economy;
  • Trade issues and social justice;
  • History of child labor around the world (for middle school-aged children); and
  • The important life opportunities that schools can provide children.

The book's back pages are extremely rich in child-centered which lead to more information about child labor issues and encourage children to support companies that work to make the world a better place for all. The wonderful folks at Tilbury Books, the publishers of The Carpet Boy's Gift, have provided us with this rich set of activities and resources to share with you. Readers who locate the books and visit the Internet sites included here can learn more about the facts of Iqbal Masih's life, examine their own consumer habits, explore what schools are like in different countries, and develop new ideas about "human rights." These resources will also lead to valuable discussions about acceptable and unacceptable work for children in a global economy.


  • Child Labor In Depth
    International Labor Organization If you are curious to know more of the facts about child labor, this kid-friendly site will help you learn more about how much child laborers earn, what work they do, and how much time they spend at their jobs. There are also links to many other useful sites on child labor, and some ideas of actions you can do to make a difference.

  • Time Magazine Discover the facts by reading articles on the issue of child labor online. See what other children's news organizations write about child labor today.

  • Scholastic News Zone This news site has lots of information including a map of children in the labor force, country close-ups, voices from the field and ways to help.

  • Listen to Us: The World's Working Children by Jane Springer. Groundwood Books 1998. This balanced photo essay looks at the hazardous work children do in developing and industrialized countries. Ages 9-12

  • Stolen Dreams: Portraits of Working Children by David L. Parker. Lerner, 1997. Photographs and essays tell the stories of young rug weavers, prostitutes, and migrant workers in Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan, the United States. Young Adult

  • Free the Children: A Young Man's Personal Crusade Against Child Labor by Craig Kielburger. HarperCollins, 1999. This book is a call to those who want to end abusive child labor and poverty. The author has gone on to develop Free The Children, a powerful organization in support of kids’ rights. Young Adult

  • The Kids Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose And Turn Creative Thinking Into Positive Action by Barbara Lewis, Pamela Espeland, and Caryn Pernu. Free Spirit Publishing, 1998. Young Adult

Green America approved