Honoring Activism

Civic responsibility, activism, and activists, are highlighted in this this list of recently published titles.

Not since the 1960s and 1970s have people taken to the streets to protest in such numbers: about police brutality, sexual assault, and civil rights. Last week saw the publication of We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists (Crown) ed. by Melissa Falkowski and Eric Gardner and authored by students who witnessed gun violence on their high school campus and the death of 17 in their school community. The list  below highlights recently published titles on individuals who have "demanded justice," along with discussions about civic responsilbiltity, and the many forms activism can take.

BRILL, Marlene Targ. Dolores Huerta Stands Strong: The Woman Who Demanded Justice. 136p. (Biographies for Young Readers). bibliog. chron. glossary. notes. photos. Ohio Univ. Pr. Jul. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780821423301; Tr $28.95. ISBN 9780821423295.
Gr 5-8–Though Dolores Huerta is an indispensable advocate for the rights of farmworkers, especially during the mid-to-late 20th century, she often took a public backseat to César Chávez. Despite being an effective organizer, negotiator and speaker, “sexism kept her hidden.” While her successful campaigning and leadership is impressive by itself—she was instrumental in forming the first union for farmworkers, among many other achievements—she did this while raising 11 children, often as a single mother. Huerta’s activism eventually grew to include campaigning for women’s rights. Brill’s writing is clear and accessible for middle grade readers; she takes complex issues, such as unionizing, collective bargaining, and Communism, and makes them comprehensible for the intended audience. Many of the issues Huerta championed—workers’ rights, the living conditions of immigrants, women’s equality—are still timely topics that will resonate with today’s youths. Photographs help bring Brill’s text to life, and the extensive back matter will lead readers to further research. VERDICT This well-told, age-appropriate account of a vital and essential activist deserves a place in all middle grade collections.–Melissa Kazan, Horace Mann School, NY

CHAVEZ, Matthew. Art in Action: Make a Statement, Change Your World. illus. by Allison Steinfeld. 112p. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681197562.
Gr 4-7–In 2016, Chavez set up a table and chairs in a New York City subway station, and encouraged people to share their thoughts, hopes, and fears on sticky notes, which he posted on the wall of the station. This became “Subway Therapy,” an interactive art installation that the artist used to help people connect, especially during times of national tragedy and division. This book provides kids with ideas and suggestions on how to create their own world-changing art. Projects are organized by location: crafts that can be done with family, at school, and in the community. The suggested activities include interviewing family members, handing out appreciation tokens to friends and classmates, taking photographs of community members at a local coffee shop, and more. Each project emphasizes the importance of having a dialogue with others. Difficulty rankings from one to five and sidebars accompany each prompt. VERDICT A timely addition to crafting and bibliotherapy collections for middle grade readers. –Ashley Larsen, Pacifica Libraries, CA

DAWSON, Eric David. Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments To Change the World. 160p. chart. index. photos. Viking. Aug. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781101997338.
Gr 5-8–Dawson, CEO and cofounder of the global nonprofit Peace First, has spent the last 25 years supporting teens in creating real change. Dawson continues his work in this handbook filled with inspirational stories of young people, ranging in age from 15 to 22, who faced or witnessed injustice and the steps they took to become a peacemaker. The book begins with seven commitments designed to inspire readers into action, including “Put Peace First, Every Day, Open My Heart” and “Take a Stand.” Each commitment includes a personal story. Katebah, a 15-year-old girl whose family left Yemen to live in Oakland, saw the students in her school and members of her community growing numb to deaths from gun violence. Katebah found like-minded friends, and together they organized events such as a celebratory march for peace. At the end of each chapter, Dawson includes a helpful step-by-step guide on putting each vision into practice. VERDICT A great title for budding changemakers. –Joy Poynor, Farmington Public Library, AR

EGGERS, Dave. What Can a Citizen Do? illus. by Shawn Harris. 40p. Chronicle. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452173139. POP
PreS-Gr 3–The creators of Her Right Foot offer a kid-accessible picture book primer on civics. Taking a broadly stroked allegorical approach, the duo employs rhyming verses and dynamic artwork to describe how a group of children come together to build their own community. A youngster wearing a head scarf and another sporting a blue baseball cap and flouncy gold skirt leave behind a distant cityscape and travel to a small island with a single tree (or is it really a backyard?). Much of the story line is presented through the detailed cut-paper illustrations. For example, when one child posts a “No trumpets” sign, three newcomers successfully plead their trumpet-supporting viewpoint (“A citizen can join a cause. A citizen can write a letter. A citizen can help change laws”). Everyone is welcome and the kids work together to build something wonderful (a fantastical tree house complete with domes, spires, and roller-coaster). Ultimately, a new-in-town boy who has been watching (and sketching) the action all along is invited to make his contribution (eye-dazzling strings of lights). Throughout, the visuals sparkle with wit and whimsy, celebrating imagination while also creating a foundation for the empowering text: “So forget yourself a second. Grab a shovel or a pen. Do something for another. Don’t you dare doubt that you can!” VERDICT Blending an appreciation for a child’s perspective with a powerful message, this must-have book distills the fundamentals of citizenship into easy-to-digest concepts and emphasizes the importance of caring for others, accepting differences, and taking action to initiate positive change. –Joy Fleishhacker, Pikes Peak ­Library District, Colorado Springs

JOHNSON, Maureen, ed. How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation. 224p. further reading. St. Martin’s/Wednesday Bks. May 2018. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781250168368.
Gr 9 Up–In an anthology for young adults discontented with today’s political climate and looking to take action, Johnson has pulled together a lineup of authors that are sure to excite teens, from Jason Reynolds to Hamilton actor Javier Muñoz. There are interviews, poems, artwork, sheet music, comics, lists, calls to action, and short stories. The topics are varied as well, each speaking to a different kind of activism. One message is clear: no one is too young to have a voice and to make a difference. Multiple authors call out the current presidential administration and speak to feelings of hopelessness about the 2016 presidential election. The overarching theme of activism and resistance transcend this one election, calling young adults to take action now and make the future different than the past. VERDICT The editor has done an exceptional job calling on different voices to share their wisdom and thoughts on making a difference. A worthy addition to YA collections. –Kat Paiva, Rye Public Library, NH

MOYER, Naomi M. Black Women Who Dared. illus. by Naomi M. Moyer. 24p. Second Story. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772600711.
Gr 4-8–The importance of collectives is central to this illustrated nonfiction work, dedicated to communities within transnational (mostly Canadian) black history. Moyer focuses on grassroots organizations, ranging from the international Black Cross Nurses group in the early 20th century to the more recent creation of Blockorama, which makes “a space for the black LGBTTI2QQ community within Toronto’s Pride Parade.” This record of long-lasting communities emphasizes the results of cooperation over hero narratives. When Moyer introduces individuals, she highlights how they facilitate networks, like Rosa Pryor, the first female black business owner in Vancouver, who used her restaurant to build a social hub, or border-crossing Mary Miles Bibb’s support of black journalists and readers through her 19th-century newspaper. It is a testament to the book’s strength that after reading each profile, readers will want to know more; librarians would be wise to have a list of further reading handy. Each spread features bold stylized illustrations that mix photorealistic drawings with inventive linework, silhouettes, and eye-catching complementary blocks of color. VERDICT This is a must-have for Canadian classrooms and libraries, and an important addition for U.S. collections as well .–Katherine Magyarody, Texas A&M University, College Station

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage. 320p. Knopf. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524771966.
Gr 9 Up–All of the contributors—each from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientations—share their experiences and stories of persistence in the face of adversity. They include Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez, who founded the online platform Latina Rebels; Maneet Chauhan, a woman who defied cultural expectations by becoming a chef; and James Lecesne, the cofounder of a suicide hotline for LGBTQIA teens, the Trevor Project. Some of the prevailing topics center on feminism and women’s rights, immigrant experiences, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA representation and rights, religion, and homelessness. Each story brings a different perspective to these important conversations and movements. Some notable entries include a letter written to Noah Pozner, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, from his sister Danielle Vaber, who has since become an advocate for gun control; and a piece by Fanny Star, a Holocaust survivor. While most of works are essays, there is a short comic, a letter, and an interview as well. The back matter includes discussion questions for a book club or classroom setting. VERDICT This anthology is a powerful collection of voices; a recommended purchase for high school libraries. –Kat Paiva, Rye Public Library, NH

MOYLE, Eunice & Sabrina Moyle. Be the Change!: The Future Is in Your Hands: 16+ Creative Projects for Civic and Community Action. 128p. notes. photos. Walter Foster. Mar. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781633225077.
Gr 5-8–Using colorful text and examples, the Moyle sisters share their secrets of successful campaigns for change, peppered with inspirational quotes, Pinterest-worthy fonts, and an authoritative message about finding a cause to believe in. After several sections that define change and creativity, the last three sections provide inspiration, craft projects, and templates and tear-outs that make the book tricky to lend but useful for programming. Relying heavily on bullets and bold text, the introductory chapters serve to engage readers and explain that creativity has many outlets, and it does not always equal artistic talent. The majority of the smiling youth pictured are girls. Each project includes a list of necessary items, directions, and pictures as a guide. The straightforward projects will require additional purchases and money, which may limit the audience. What it lacks in broad appeal, it makes up for in positivity and hope for action that capitalizes on DIY culture. VERDICT Not for circulation, this is a crafty addition to collections about advocacy for the tween set. –Alicia Abdul, Albany High School, NY

PAUL, Caroline. You Are Mighty: A Guide To Changing the World. illus. by Lauren Tamaki. 128p. further reading. Bloomsbury. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681198224.
Gr 6 Up–A guide to changing the world might seem intimidating, but Paul breaks down activism for teens in an easily digestible way. Organized on a scale of least intimidating to the most, topics include creating protest signs and letter-writing campaigns, shooting videos, and organizing marches. Tamaki’s sketched illustrations complement and enhance the writing. Paul is a realist; she does not shy away from discussing privilege and the court system in her approach to how a teen might change the world. And with a series of questions at the end of each chapter, readers are spurred to action by verbalizing their cause. The book is well executed and tidy in a utilitarian way. It is not looking for an argument but harnessing the power and voice of a newer generation based on the historical value placed on age-old approaches and how new ones have fared. Real-life examples punctuate each element in the guide; for instance, Tokata Iron Eyes and her friends use of hashtags to spread their petition about the Dakota Access Pipeline. Simply put, what once was straightforward petitioning can now be capitalized through social media. VERDICT Every public library should purchase a copy to plant the seed or empower teens already active in speaking up for injustice.–Alicia Abdul, Albany High School, NY

PIPPINS, Andrea. Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present. illus. by Jamia Wilson. 64p. glossary. photos. Wide Eyed Editions. Feb. 2018. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781786031587.
Gr 3 Up–With a title that references the late Lorraine Hansberry’s phrase “young, gifted and black,” this exuberant collected biography is one readers won’t want to miss. Students are invited to explore one and two-page vignettes of 52 compelling figures in black culture worldwide. Each profile recounts their beginnings and marvelous feats as scientists, writers, athletes, artists, or activists, both past and present. Exquisitely designed, each illustrated portrait is thickly outlined, colored digitally, and illuminated by irradiating forms that resemble papel picado. Each written entry follows a precise format: a clear definition of the person in a larger sans-serif font; the same but smaller font for the text; a bold handwriting font for a highlighted quote; and an outlined, all-caps font for the inventive titles given to each, such as “Conductor” for Harriet Tubman, “Soul-Singing Superstar” for Solange, and “Chess Grandmaster” for Maurice Ashley. There is not a chronology or categories. There is a back matter and a “Hall of Fame” photo album–like index of black-and-white headshots, each framed with a name banner and page number. In the preface, New York–based activist author Wilson and illustrator Pippins pinpoint the importance of telling stories of black success with the adage that “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” VERDICT Share this book widely across generations as a launching point for more discoveries. –Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City

HUDSON, Wade & Cheryl Willis Hudson, eds. We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. 96p. Crown. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525580423.
Gr 3-7–Within these pages is the collected wisdom from dozens of writers and artists who share poems, advice, artwork, passion, concern, love, and experience with the next generation. In the introduction, the editors describe this book as a treasury for children to read, and reread, when they need a boost, or comfort, or love. Every turn of the page is a new and different experience; the tone of the book moves seamlessly from joyful to somber to curious, and inspired, offering children of many different ages a place to land and learn, and find their own lives reflected back at them. Jacqueline Woodson writes a letter to her children about the importance of being kind; Carole Boston Weatherford explores the universality of the golden rule; Tony Medina describes a young girl’s despair as her father is taken by immigration officials. The entries are as varied as they are important, working as independent way stations on a map to broader understanding. Beautiful, haunting, and electrifying artwork from familiar names and relative newcomers in children’s literature fill the pages, including illustrations from artists such as Innosanto Nagara, Ekua Holmes, and Eric Velasquez that dance among the essays, poems, and letters. VERDICT This is a book to be quietly contemplated, and shared with an adult, as there is much to be discovered from multiple readings. Addressing complex topics with sensitivity and candor, this a necessary purchase for all libraries serving children. –Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

REED, Amy, ed. Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America. 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Aug. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534408999.
Gr 9 Up–Twenty-one YA authors—including such well-known figures as Ellen Hopkins, Maurene Goo, and Printz award-winner Nina LaCour, as well as two unpublished authors selected from a call for submissions—reflect on their early lives and what it means to be a woman in the United States. Many of these writers experienced marginalization as younger girls based on race, immigration status, sexuality, or simply not fitting in. Each turned to writing as solace, an outlet, or a way of speaking out against injustice. The stories are all unique, some focusing on the subject’s childhood, others on their lives as adults. Many discuss their anger at the recent presidential election and put out an inspiring call to action. The authors speak directly to readers in an informal tone; the essays are written in the first person with some casual profanity. A content warning in the editor’s note mentions that the entries discuss race-based and sexual violence. A resource list includes websites of activist organizations, in addition to information on how to participate in the political system. VERDICT Many readers will see themselves reflected in the pages of this collection and be inspired by the first-hand accounts of overcoming adversity. A great pick for budding writers and activists. –Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

REYNOLDS, Luke. Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First. illus. by M.S. Corley. 304p. Aladdin/Beyond Words. Sept. 2018. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781582706641; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781582706658.
Gr 6 Up–This collection highlights the times when high achievers either failed outright or faced drastic setbacks in achieving their goals. Each chapter opens with the idyllic and humorous story of a particular person’s road to success. This book communicates well that failure is an important part of growth and achievement. The breadth of different people and fields of study covered is a positive. Readers will connect to the challenges of Duke Kahanamoku, a champion swimmer and actor who popularized the sport of surfing in the 1930s and 1940s; Om Prakash Gurjar was forced into helping his parents pay back their debts at the age of five. He went on to advocate for children forced into labor and eventually won the International Children’s Peace Prize. These stories serve as a model and send the message that success is rare at first attempt and failure is necessary to succeed. The text is well written and engaging. VERDICT An entertaining pick for biography collections. –Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD

RICH, KaeLyn. Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution. illus. by Giulia Sagramola. 240p. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Quirk. Aug. 2018. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781683690597.
Gr 7 Up–A immensely valuable guidebook for young women seeking to make a difference. Rich effortlessly breaks down complex strategies and concepts into practical know-how. The first chapter, titled “Power Up the Girl Resistance,” lays out the groundwork and explains the history of feminism, including defining key terms. The text then succinctly moves through choosing a cause, spreading awareness, and being a catalyst for change. Rich addresses the importance of intersectionality and early on invites readers to check their privilege and determine their biases. Rich also provides a great number of templates, from a budget and expenses table to a sample press release, that readers could easily adapt for their own uses. The book’s design, along with Sagramola’s confident cartoon girls, is fresh looking and nicely favors muted colors. VERDICT With references to pop culture, social media, and timely example scenarios, this book is highly recommened for YA collections.–Kat Paiva, Rye Public Library, NH

SARKEESIAN, Anita & Ebony Adams. History vs Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don’t Want You To Know. illus. by T.S. Abe. 144p. bibliog. notes. Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250146731.
Gr 7 Up–While many teens find inspiration for strength, courage, and guidance in feminist icons, such as Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, or Maya Angelou, untold numbers of brave women have been lost to history. Sarkeesian and Adams have put together the incredible achievements of 25 women throughout the centuries. Each section explores the lives of five women from around the world, from the third century to the 21st. Students will be introduced to the heroics of LGBTQ+ trailblazer Lucy Hicks Anderson, the wisdom of Fatima al-Fihri, the imagination of Murasaki Shikibu, and the strength of Bessie Stringfield. Readers of all ages, across the globe and socioeconomic spectrum, can find an icon to look up to within these pages. Filled with strength, this collection is incredibly inspiring and will instill in teens a take-charge attitude and powerful mind-set. VERDICT This is a must for public library YA nonfiction collections. –Kimberly Barbour, Manatee County Public Library System, FL

SANDERS, Rob. Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. illus. by Steven Salerno. 40p. chron. photos. websites. Random. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399555312.
Gr 1-3–Written in direct, accessible language, this book opens with a quote from Harvey Milk about hope, the connecting theme of this uplifting introduction to the symbol of the Rainbow Flag. The text starts with Milk’s choice to enter politics and Gilbert Baker’s design of the first flag and connects that to the flag’s modern appearances as a symbol of equality and pride and the use of it on June 26, 2015 across the White House. The illustrations are vibrant and lively, taking inspiration from 1970s fashions and styles while emphasizing the effectiveness of symbols. The narrative includes references to opposition to Milk’s dream of equality and the assassination of Milk and George Moscone, but moves decisively on to tell of enduring hope, with an illustration of the candlelight vigil and the persistence of the rainbow flag as an icon. Biographical notes include more information on the flag, Milk, Baker, and the significance of the June 16, 2014 rainbow lights across the White House. The back matter also includes two time lines, a few suggested books and websites, and assorted photographs related to the story. VERDICT With its emphasis on pride and hope, this title will make a strong addition to classroom and school library collections to support discussions of character and equality. Recommended for all collections.–Amanda Foulk, Sacramento Public Library

STEWART, Louise Kay. Rebel Voices: The Global Fight for Women’s Equality and the Right To Vote. illus. by Eve Lloyd Knight. 48p. chron. index. Crocodile. Nov. 2018. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781623719647.
Gr 7 Up–Stewart explores the women and movements that paved the way for the right to vote in about 22 countries. From Australia to the UK to South Africa, the stories are grippingly told in a snapshot style coupled with gorgeous illustrations. Each vignette’s artwork expands on the emotional content of each tale; here, Knight’s Matilde Hidalgo de Procel is a young girl, when her fire for fairness was ignited; reflections in broken glass captures the riots and lengths women in the UK went to. Stewart makes note of when women of color were left out of the initial voting rights reforms. A time line of when countries granted women the right to vote caps off the end of the stories for handy reference for how change was inspired and enacted. VERDICT A good purchase for YA nonfiction collections. –Molly Dettmann, Norman North High School, OK


Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing