On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, just one day after the Presidential Inauguration, millions of women and women allies participated in marches in more than 500 cities and towns across the United states alone, as well as from hundreds of cities around the globe. The worldwide protest was in support of women’s rights as well as immigration reform, health care reform, protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion and workers’ rights, all aimed at the threats against them posed by the new presidential administration. What started as a grassroots movement turned out to be the largest one-day protest in U.S. history, with peaceful crowds that carried strong messages. This moment of solidarity brought people from all walks of life together–even many young children got involved to make their voices heard. In a time of uncertainty and social unrest, it’s important to let children know how activism works and the importance of looking out for their peers. Here is a list of 13 book titles geared towards children and young adults that do just that:
1. A Is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara
This best-selling, gorgeously illustrated ABC book is for the next generation of progressives: families who want their children to grow up with an unapologetic thirst for activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists fight for. Each spread presents a letter and a bit of social commentary urging children to take a stand against war and violence, develop an awareness of our environment, and promote acceptance and equality for all cultures, races, religions, genders, and walks of life.
2. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie
In the 1930s, civil rights activist Lewis Michaux Sr. started a bookstore in Harlem called the National Memorial African Bookstore, which was created as a safe space where people could read and discuss how to change the world. The bookstore even attracted the likes of famous figures such as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. This book tells the story of Lewis Michaux Sr. and how his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.
3. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet
This picture book tells the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukranian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. It follows the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s, tackling topics like activism and the U.S. garment industry, with hand-stitching and fabric incorporated throughout the art.
4. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
This hilarious book shows what happens when you cross a cow with a typewriter. Farmer Brown’s cows know how to type, and what starts as a polite request turns into a peaceful and hilarious movement against him, turning his farm upside down!
5. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
This New York Times bestselling book is filled with color and humor. All Duncan wants to do is color, but when he opens his box of crayons, he discovers only letters all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Now it’s up to Duncan to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best. This book showcases the power of letter writing, how a strike can help you fight for your rights, and the power of listening when you’re in charge.
6. Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone and Rebecca Gibbon
Elizabeth Cady Stanton is the suffragist credited with starting the women’s right to vote movement in the US. From a young age, Stanton knew that women did not have the same rights as men, so she fought back by going to college and rallying like-minded women to her cause. This book will help kids understand the power of speaking up and speaking out for equal rights.
7. Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya and L.C. Wheatley
This is an inspiring, true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was targeted by a Taliban gunman, but lived to tell the tale and dedicates her life to speaking out for every child’s right to education. Malala’s story is more than a biography of a brave and outspoken teenager. It is a testament to the power of education to change the world for boys and girls everywhere. This book finds a balance that’s just right for young children without being too scary.
8. Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins and Nancy Zhang
Alice Paul was a suffragist and activist who organized parades and wrote letters and protested outside the White House–all while donning her signature purple hat! She organized a parade that upstaged President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, got arrested, and then met with the president himself inside the White House. She continued the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton that eventually led to the 19th Amendment, and this book perfectly explains her cause and what she accomplished for a very young audience.
9. Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and Bryan Collier
This gorgeously illustrated book is packed with information about Rosa Parks and the bus boycott. Striking cut-paper images are used to retell the historic story from an unique and original perspective.
10. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
This multiple award-winning title tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her parents, who helped end school segregation in California almost ten years before Brown vs. Board of Education. Mendez was an American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, but was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California. This powerful book teaches the impact of organizing and using the law to your advantage.
11. ¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can! by Diana Cohn and Francisco Delgado
This highly acclaimed work is a bilingual fictitious story set against the backdrop of the successful Los Angeles janitors strike in 2000. The story focuses on a young boy named Carlitos, whose mother is a janitor. He, along with his teacher, figure out how to write a powerful protest sign to support his mom during the strike.
12. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
A literal “fish out of water” tale, Swimmy is about a fish who stands out from all the other fish he knows. However, despite his hardships, he uses what makes him different to teach other fish important lessons in friendship.
13. We March by Shane Evans
This highly relevant book discusses the 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom, which brought record numbers of peaceful protesters to DC and ended with Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. This book is excellent for children who are just starting to learn about MLK, but need to know more about what the march itself was about.
The revolution begins at home. Now is the time to talk to your children about how to fight for what they believe in. After all, they’re our best hope for the future.