We often ask ourselves “what can I do to change the world?” Or “can I really make a difference?” In a time where the importance of small actions is often overlooked, actions on a grand scale and social change seem nearly impossible. However, we know that is not true. For example, if you think about it, we just elected and re-elected a president of African-American descent. Collectively our votes brought on change that seemed nearly impossible just a mere 60 years ago. Everyone has the ability to make a difference, but how do we change the overwhelming notion of “we can’t change anything” that has blanketed our ability to initiate any sort of change or difference in the world? I know there are plenty of answers to this question but in this case, one answer I strongly believe in is to start with our children.
I think children are the key in terms of making a change or difference in the world because they are the predominant holders of imagination and fresh ideas. Eventually, it will be children who are shaping the future, so who
better is there to believe that change is not only fundamental for progress , but more importantly, even possible? Encouraging our kids to firmly believe that they can make a difference or change is a definitely a challenge but if started at a young age, it’s something that’s not impossible. Now, I know you must be thinking “right, between homework and piano and soccer practice, let me just instill the importance of believing that you can make a difference or a change. I’m not Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.” Although that thought is true for the most part and completely understandable, it’s also not that hard to start a conversation about it with your children, especially with so much literature for children published within the past few years.
Believe it or not, there’s a plethora of children’s books that can help inspire kids to change the world and help them believe that it is not impossible for them. A great resource to start off with is this booklist titled “17 Books to Inspire Kids to Change the World” from www.whatdowedoallday.com. Containing picture books that are suitable for young children, these set of books are also great for kids who are a bit older in age to read aloud as well.
A for Activist by Innosanto Nagara is a perfect example of this. The content (of this book and others on the list) can definitely be a conversation starter and a great way to introduce your child to their ability and untapped potential to make a difference in the world. Another great point about all of the books on this list is their diversity. In a world that is becoming more global every day, it’s imperative that children are exposed to leaders, innovators and “game changers” from other parts of the world.
With books such as Mama Miti about Wangari Mathai from Kenya and Grandfather Ghandi about Ghandi from India and Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, kids can learn about people and circumstances that they might not be familiar with here in America and as a result broaden their horizons. But, have no fear; there are excellent stories from right here at home that can inspire as well.
Harlem’s Little Blackbird explores the struggle of Florence Mills who fought for Civil Rights in the 1920s and The Story of Ruby Bridges is about the true story of six year old Ruby Bridges who was the first African American girl to attend an all- white school after desegregation in New Orleans in 1960.
I myself have enjoyed some of the books on this list. My personal favorite on this list is definitely Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora. This book is about Tomas Rivera, the son of migrant workers, who eventually went on to become the first minority chancellor at the University of California. I’m a former student of a U.C. Riverside and remember spending hours working at the Tomas Rivera library. Reading a little bit about his life made reflecting on my time at that library so much sweeter.
Also, although this isn’t mentioned on the featured list of this article, I’m excited to add Akiti the Hunter retold by Bolaji Ajayi to my personal collection of books. Based on African heritage, Ajayi has put a twist on the idea of traditional super heroes and has created a character, Akiti, King of the Forest that children can admire and learn from. With beautifully illustrated pictures and a lesson of tolerance amongst others to boot, Akiti the Hunter is soon to be a classic all children can learn from and enjoy. All of these books are a great start to introducing your kids to the idea of social activism and even if that’s not your goal, they are simply great reads to help your kids feel empowered and inspired to make a difference.
To see the complete list click here.
By: Rabiya Wasi
Featured Image By: Lacey Raper