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Kid Activists

“Kid Activists” by Robin Stevenson, illustrations by Allison Steinfeld c.2019, Quirk Books $13.95 / $15.95 Canada 224 pages

Someday, this world will be yours.

You and other kids like you will be in charge of ensuring that the water’s clean, the air’s breathable, the land is healthy, and people are safe. Yeah, you might think you’re just a kid now but as you’ll see in “Kid Activists” by Robin Stevenson, illustrated by Allison Steinfeld, every good change-maker had to start somewhere.

What do you do when you see something that you think is wrong or unfair? A lot of kids whine and do nothing else but if you’re the kind of person who takes the issue to an adult and tries to change things, you’re in good company: for much of history, everyday people have stood up for what they think is right.

Before that happened, though, every one of those people was a kid.

Take Dolores Fernandez, for instance.

Little Dolores was born in a tiny town in New Mexico, the granddaughter of immigrants. When she was a kid, her parents split but she kept in close touch with her father, who was a labor organizer and a politician. As a teenager, she noticed discrimination in her high school and she started paying attention to the world outside of school. These, and other injustices, spurred her to become an activist as an adult.

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No doubt, you’ve heard about Rosa Parks and her refusal to move to a different seat on a bus back in 1955. Of course, Mrs. Parks was a child once, growing up right in the middle of racism and discrimination and she naturally didn’t understand it. But that was the way things were, until she got involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and she learned that with just one small, quiet action, change would come.

Helen Keller learned to communicate as a child and later inspired others with her social justice efforts. Six-year-old Ruby Bridges was instrumental in integrating schools in Louisiana. And Autumn Peltier still works to ensure that the world’s water is safe to drink and use.

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On the national stage, protests are nothing new. Your child has likely grown up with them on the nightly news, and has perhaps participated in a march or rally herself. In “Kid Activists,” author Stevenson shows children that small starts like theirs can make big change.

In addition to the relevance of the tales here — 16 tales that show kids how activists were once just like them — this book offers a wide range of diversity, both economically and racially, in the profiles presented and in the names that will be familiar and new to the age group for which this book is intended. The stories also illustrate a wide variety of early influences and backgrounds, proving to kids that where they come from isn’t important when fixing something that is.

Add artwork by Steinfeld and you’ve got a magnet that will attract young leaders and make them want to read. Give your 8-to-12-year-old “Kid Activists” today, and it could make a world of difference.

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