In the spring of 2014 we organized a IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival in which we asked children and their parents to send us a poem/drawing about “Peace in My Own Life.” As a “prize” for submitting a poem, the participants could download A Child for Peace certificate and have their poems published in an e-book. The e-book, called A Child for Peace, was published in November 2014.
The IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival 2014, a joint project between IFLAC (The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace) and Children’s Peace Train, was a success. We asked children to write a poem about “Peace in My Own Life” and create a drawing if they liked. The prize was to have their poems published in an e-book. Here it is! 84 entries from 11 countries. 144 pages.
The beautiful cover illustration is created by Isabella Wallace (9) from Australia, one of the participants. It shows war trapped in a jar, after peace has been let out.
All the individually submitted poems and drawings are published. In South America and Israel, IFLAC members had their own campaigns in which they collected poems for the Poetry Festival. Due to the high number of entries, several hundreds, they had to make a selection.
In addition to the drawings submitted by the participants, we included drawings from the Children’s Peace Train collection.
The e-book is available in two formats:
PDF book. Download and display it in a two-page view like a book. Recommended viewing settings are given inside the book. Share it with your friends and family!
Online e-book (direct address)
Or, read it right here (click on the edges to scroll, click in the middle to enlarge):
Lo Ching Yau is 3.5 years old. She is attending K1 in school. In her painting, she is portrayed as a colorful bird enjoying the peace of the world, her mother wrote. This is Ching-Yau’s poem:
I love mommy
I love daddy
I love everyone
I love PEACE!
We love your poem and painting, Ching-Yau. Thank you!
On April 16, 2014, the South Korean ferry Sewol capsized and more than 200 people drowned, most of them South Korean students from the same high school. The poems below are written by South Korean students, age 14 to 16. See more poems and drawings at Jeremy Seligson’s Children’s Peace Train.
Happy children took a trip
Who was looking over the children?
Those children were swallowed by the sea
Inside the sea, the children are suffering
Inside the sea, the children are sad
The sea swallowed the children
The sea is very cruel
Flowers are going to bloom in their glory soon
Flowers that were brightly shining
Flowers that everybody waits for
They disappear in the sea suddenly
We can’t meet the children
Waiting for us
Nothing can help
Searching or waiting
Even so, we are waiting and waiting
We believe you will come back
And are waiting
American student Rachel Unger has been interning at IFLAC throughout the spring semester 2014 at Haifa University. She has been working actively with the IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival.
PEACE IS LIKE A RAINDROP
By Rachel Unger
Peace is like a falling raindrop
Waiting for a child
To catch it on her thirsty tongue
And taste the mysterious sky
Peace is like a lonely puddle
Waiting for a child
To jump and splash with all his might
Before the sun comes out to dry
Says the young girl from Palestine,
“They are not human enough to think that it’s wrong
to take a father from his children.”*
While the Israeli boy from Haifa says,
“They attack us because their parents teach
them we are animals.”
We don’t go out to play in the storm
The rumors whisper, be careful! be afraid!
So we hide behind our tinted windows
And watch the peace drops fall away
*The quote from the Palestinian girl is based on a real quote from the documentary Sometimes I’m Scared, Sometimes I Hit.
Short can be very effective. This poem is written by Jeremy Seligson, conductor of IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival 2014 and founder of Children’s Peace Train. Someone told him that a poetry activity takes 25 minutes and they could only afford 10, so he proposed a Three Word Poem. If you, too, like short writing, we invite you to enter the Poetry Festival with your own Three Word Peace Poem!
This lovely poem was one of the three winners in the IFLAC Peace Poetry Contest for children 2013. Read all the winning poems.
MY PEACE DREAM
By Hadar Topaz, Israel
For me peace is
No killers in the area
Quiet on all coasts
No houses damaged
No children killed by bombs
Like in Syria –
No danger to anybody
And love and understanding
Will embrace all children in
The whole world.
Young Lee and Roni are in love with each other. They also have a job to do: save the world.
When Nuki, the Nuclear Giant, threatens to destroy the world, it is up to Lee and Roni to travel to Esperia, the Land of the Future, to find the Peace Flower and bring it to Earth and end war forever. Their means of transport is a small and funny Hi-Tech Space Car called Muzi, and their guide is Petra Salam, the sister of Peter Pan.
They soon realize that not only are Peace Flowers precious and rare beauties, but also that there is always someone, somewhere who will prevent others from getting to them. In the course of their quest, they reflect on major issues in lives, such as war and peace, but also dedication and true friendship.
Author Ada Aharoni tells an adventurous and humorous story, but at the same time an educative one that demonstrates the role literature and art can play in peace education – all in line with the core values of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace.
Now, Muzi is not only small, she is tiny as a headache pill, and when Lee and Roni touch the car to enter it they shrink until they can fit into it. “If they are so small, how can others see them?” I kept wondering as I read. Then I asked myself, “If I were ten years old, would I be bothered by the size?” Of course not! I wouldn’t even think about it! That is the beauty of a young mind.
It is a delightful story. I will read it again.
You can find the book at Amazon. It is available in English, Arab and Hebrew.
Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was created in 2005 to continue the work of young poet and peace activist Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2014). He died due to complications of a rare neuromuscular disease at the age of “almost 14.” He wrote his first poems, his heartsongs, at the age of 3, explaining that heartsongs are gifts that reflect each person’s unique reason for being.
Mattie believed that peace involves collaboration and said that we need to work together with other people, organizations and countries. In that spirit, Mattie’s Peace Club and IFLAC Children’s Peace Train offer a great opportunity for you to collaborate and share your peace poems. All participants in IFLAC’s Peace Train Poetry Festival will earn our A Child for Peace certificate. All participants from Mattie’s Peace Club will in addition earn their Peace Activity Certificate, and their poems will be published on Mattie’s website. Read the announcement from Mattie’s Peace Club.
Jeremy Seligson wrote this poem for the IFLAC Children’s Peace Train. He runs the original Children’s Peace Train and is the Conductor of the Peace Train Poetry Festival.
ALL THEY WANT IS YOU
By Fred Jeremy Seligson
Conjure up the faces and
Colorfully clothed bodies of
Children you have seen
Through your 100 years
One after the other
Brown, white, black, yellow
Smiling and laughing,
Frowning and weeping
Then holding hands, circling
Our planet – all they want is you
All they want is care and joy
Which combine for “Peace.”
This is Ada Aharoni’s special poem for the IFLAC Children’s Peace Train. She is the Founder and President of IFLAC, one of the organizers of the Peace Poetry Festival.
CHILDREN ARE STARS OF PEACE
By Ada Aharoni
Dear children, you were born with loving hearts
And in them star seeds of peace.
You are the future, you are life
You do not want to die in wars
Like some of your fathers and mothers
Smart children, you will send your star beams of peace
Through your smart phones and computers
All over the battling Middle East
And all over our global village
Your rapid lasers will bring us
What we failed to bring you –
A world where not one gun is fired
To kill fathers, mothers and children –
A world where each child is a star of peace
Well fed and smiling at life!
For the IFLAC Peace Poetry and Story Contest 2013, we asked children to send their stories on peace and/or love. Read the three winning poems.
Hasan Dokhan wrote about Amer, who learns that soldiers kill innocent children, destroy homes and burn fields to reach peace. So strange, he thinks, and becomes an angry man who stops smiling.
By Hasan Dokhan, Israel
Amer is a naïve smiling man, all the people love him.
One day he goes with his neighbors to the market
In the big city to enjoy himself.
He stops in the center of the road,
He sees a battalion of soldiers that are carrying
Guns and sharp tools.
He wonders and asks who are these men
And where are they going?
A man answers – they are our soldiers
They are going to the war.
He wonders more
And asks what are they doing in the war?
The man answers: they burn and kill and steal.
Amer shakes his head and the tears flow from his eyes.
He asks: why are they fighting?
The man answers – to reach peace.
Amer thinks and then he says: to reach peace
They are killing innocent children and destroying homes
And burning fields! It is strange!
Amer becomes an angry man
He does not laugh or smile anymore.
Dear peace, come and paint
On people’s faces a great smile again.
In 1997, schools all over the world were invited to submit a two line poem about peace to the United Nations. The poems were then collated together into one long poem, called The Peace Poem, representing 38 countries. The poems are in English, French and Spanish.
From The Peace Poem:
Peace remained by my side until I understood
what she wanted from me – that I be free
We don’t like it that our fathers must be soldiers
and shoot other children’s fathers.
Voulez-vous bien une recette pour la paix?
Noir, blanc, jaune et rouge tous mélangés!
Compara una bala y una semilla
Sólo de una de ellas puede brotar la paz
This is one of the winning poems in the IFLAC Peace Poetry contest for children in 2011. It is written by Korean Grace Kwak, age 10 at the time.
WHAT IS PEACE TO YOU?
By Grace Kwak, Korea
To me peace is a rare and wonderful sensation,
It trickles down your body like an egg.
The egg is cracked on your head.
And you feel this wonderful mood,
Sliding down your body.
And you start to feel at ease.
At first you are unfamiliar with this aura,
Then you get used to it. It is wonderful!
You are in love with this amazing feeling,
You wish it would never end!
Your mind is empty,
And you let go of all your worries!
Everything is behind you,
You are 100% fascinated by this state of relaxation
Your body feels like jelly,
And you refuse to move.
You wish with all your heart,
That you had discovered this feeling before
You try to tell someone about this,
But you cannot move
And this is peace.
The IFLAC Children’s Peace Train is ready to leave the station. Still empty, but will soon be filled with poems and drawings from all around the world before it returns on June 30.
We hope you like the certificate. The drawing of the children holding hands around the globe was made in 2002 by a seven year old Children’s Peace Train participant.
June is still a while away. In the meantime, bookmark this site and come back from time to time.
IFLAC arranged its first poetry contest for children in 2011, with the theme, Peace for All. The winning poems, English and Spanish, are compiled in an e-book for you to enjoy. The judges of the IFLAC Children’s Peace Train Poetry Festival will also choose poems for A Child for Peace poetry anthology, which you will be able to download as a gift for friends and family at the end of December.
Read also the interview with peace poet Ada Aharoni, who has been writing for almost eighty years, starting at the age of seven. She told us that her first poem was about her new baby brother, and her proud father decided she had earned herself an ice cream. But at the ice cream shop… well, read for yourself.
Finally, remember to subscribe to the blog – see “Follow us” top right – to be notified of new posts by email. Happy writing and drawing! And: Help us spread the word.