If This Street Were Mine

Published: 19 October 2023

“Dad, who does the street belong to?”

“The street belongs to everyone”

“Does it belong to me?”

“It belongs to you”

“Can I ride my bike, explore the way?”

“No, it’s too dangerous. You stay”

What is it about?

How do our children perceive the concept of the streets? What does the street represent in their minds and who do they believe it belongs to? Is it regarded as a secure playground or a frightening, dangerous area that needs to be crossed swiftly? Furthermore, how do the experiences of children from different generations differ regarding the street? Lastly, how might children’s creative imagination and storytelling pave the way for a fresh, innovative alternative to traditional street dynamics?

Written by Peter Füssy and illustrated by Thaís Mesquita, If This Street Were Mine is a fascinating story that revolves around children’s right to the street. Tom looks out the window at a street full of traffic. The next day, a broken pipe on the street allows children to play. The street is temporarily closed off to cars, and water gushes out from the ground, creating a delightful playground for children. They fearlessly embrace the street as their very own, physically and mentally engaging with it. But when the pipe gets repaired, the street reverts to its previous state, and cars reclaim their dominance. This raises the question for Tom and his father: Who does the street truly belong to, humans or cars?

If this street were mine image of kids playing in the street.pdf
If this street were mine image of road dominated by cars.pdf

In recent decades, cars have dominated the streets in most cities around the world, while children have been confined behind fences, walls, and barriers. This story starts that way but takes a different turn because of a boy who imagines a different street: a street without cars, pollution, and danger. This book explores urban planning, mobility, and how cities can (and should) be more people-friendly.

Back cover

Peter Füssy is a journalist, photographer, migrant, mobility activist, and father of Tom. After residing in Amsterdam for four years and subsequently relocating to Portugal, he wrote the book. With captivating images, the illustrations play a significant role in elevating the book’s content and efficiently engaging readers, just like the book “The Car That Wanted to be a Bike” illustrated by Rita Kruglova and that I have reviewed before on this website.

I hope the book can help in creating new imaginaries for children all around the world. Because I know how hard it is to imagine how cities can be different when you are born in a car-oriented city.

In an interview with Peter

What approach does it take?

If This Street Were Mine is a captivating book that employs child narrative imagination and illustrations to rethink our car-dominated streets and claim children’s right to the city. The imaginative approach from the children’s perspective of the street is the significant core of the book. It serves as an exceptional resource, not only stimulating our children’s critical insight into the environment but also empowering them to confidently embrace and demand their inherent right to the city.

Who might be interested in this book?

The book will appeal to parents who want to introduce their children to cities where people are central. By using imaginative journeys, it helps our children change how they see the city and how they can move around it. “If This Street Were Mine” is available for purchase on Amazon in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Further details
  • Academic disciplines: Urban cycling and children studies.
  • Geographical scope:
  • Relation to cycling: Cycling and children’s right to the streets are the focus of this book. Through an imaginative storytelling approach, the book highlights child-friendly cities and rethinks our car-dominated ones.
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