Leaders, Activists, and Wave-Makers Book Round-Up

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Today’s collaboration with Tenikca from Hits with the Mrs couldn’t be more timely with the current events happening in our nation’s capitol. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day and the inauguration of a new President and Vice-President, we thought it would be important to highlight books that focus on leaders, activists, and those who weren’t afraid to cause good trouble. If you’re like me, you lean on books often to discuss tough topics. Instead of rehashing all of the things Maya saw play out on the news yesterday, I decided to focus on those who have chosen to make a positive difference. We’ve selected ten books that we hope you’ll enjoy reading as well. Both Bookshop and Amazon lists are provided for easy shopping or selecting library holds.

  1. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara is a great way to both introduce and remind young readers of how everyone can act and help our world. It introduces terms such as democracy, feminist, and indigenous with diverse and captivating illustrations. It carries the theme that we must individually work for the greater good of all.
  2. We March by Shane W. Evans tells the story of how protests lead to change. Starting from an early wake up, the story follows a family as they prepare to march. With their family, community and civil rights and religious leaders, the reader sees glimpses of the historic March on Washington for freedom. 
  3. Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colón is centered around the Freedom Riders and their protest in Atlanta. This collection of short stories, told from the child protagonist’s point of view, follows a family returning back to the south to fight for equality and against the evils of Jim Crow and racism. 
  4. Superheroes Are Everywhere by Madam Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is full of examples of superheroes around us every day. Each page is filled with a special memory, a person who is a superhero to Harris, and a prompt for the reader to recognize what those around them do. This book is great conversation starter for how your little one can be a superhero. The book ends with a superhero pledge because it is easier to be a superhero than you think.
  5. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford tells the story of the incomparable Fannie Lou Hamer. From her childhood in Mississippi, being 1 of 20 children, sharecropping and seeing the harsh reality of inequity, and her love of learning. The reader will be moved by the prose that explains her forced sterilization and all the hurdles she jumped through to be able to vote and register others. This is very detailed and a little lengthy, so it is suggested for older readers, ages 8 and above.
  6. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi is a board book that features nine ways parents can raise their children to be antiracist. I’ve used this book as a baby shower gift since it was released. Not only do adults have to confront all of our biases, we have to be intentional when talking about race with little ones. As the research shows, it’s never too early to start the conversation.
  7. Shirley Chisholm is a Verb by Veronica Chambers details the life of a very influential politician, Shirley Chisholm. Not only was she the first Black woman in Congress, Chisholm was also the first to seek the Democratic nomination to be president. The vocabulary in this book is very rich and we had great conversations using verbs to describe our personalities after reading it. I love this one because it details her childhood and life prior to becoming a politician.
  8. Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change by Robin Stevenson tells the stories of many of our favorite activists. I really like this one because often we hold these iconic figures to such a high regard, we forget that they were children at once. The stories told are extremely relatable and inspire both kids and parents to believe that ordinary people can go on to do extraordinary things.
  9. Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War by Duncan Tonatiuh told a story that was new to me. Although he was treated unfairly, Luz always fought for what was right. He was bullied as a child for being a Mexican American and many showed prejudices towards him as he got older. To show that Mexican Americans loved the U.S., Luz volunteered to join the army during World War I. Unfortunately, he was still discriminated against and did not receive recognition for many of his contributions. Luz responded by helping to start the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Latinx civil rights organization, to fight for equality upon his return home from the war. 
  10. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom is a book we were introduced to last year on Earth Day. This powerful tribute to water demonstrates its life-sustaining importance. The metaphors in this book are beautifully illustrated. We Are Water Protectors is a call to action for us all.

Have you read any of these books? Has a book been written about your favorite activist?

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