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Inclusive Book Review: A Book to Empower Young Kids
As a mom with two impressionable young pre-teens, I am always looking for books, movies and media that empower my kiddos to embrace who they are as individuals. Navigating the world today as a young kid can feel overwhelming with so many influences bombarding their screens and the airwaves around them. Studies show it is important to surround our children with positive role models, images, stories, and words to help build a healthy self-esteem and character.
One of our most recent book purchases includes Never Too Young, 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference, by Aileen Weintraub. This book shares the stories of fifty famous activists, musicians, artists, philanthropists, and athletes from the likes of Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder to Venus and Serena Williams and Nadia Comaneci, and so many more.
Each story shares how these inspirational figures grew into their iconic roles and changed the world.
The most incredible thing about this book is that it includes stories of girls and boys born around the world who have contributed in amazing ways to music, art, science, social justice, and history.
For example, before there was the well-known story about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus, a young, Black teenager named Claudette Colvin was riding home from school and told to give up her seat to a white woman. When Claudette refused, she was sent to jail; she was just 15. This fueled her to continue to plead her case in court. She lost, but one year later she testified in another court case about segregation on buses and it went all the way to the Supreme Court. That case ended bus segregation in the state of Alabama. A teenager – who changed the social structure of America!
There is Parveen Kumar Gorakavi, a young boy growing up in India designed a low-cost artificial leg that would help amputees walk better, at the age of 15. He went on to invent and contribute so many things in several areas of science, but eventually targeted his focus on helping others live longer, healthier lives. What began as a passion for math at a young age, grew into a lifelong career in engineering new technology for the greater good of humanity.
There is also the story of Marley Dias, who at age eleven, recognized the lack of diverse characters in the books assigned by her school, decided to create the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. It was her goal to collect 1,000 books with a Black girl main character so other Black girls can see themselves reflected in the books they read. Today, Marley has collected over 11,000 books and has spoken at major events like Forbes Women’s Summit in NYC. All because she had an idea + the desire to make a difference.
One of my personal favorite stories in this book is about Cassandra Lin, who in the fifth grade became an environmental activist. Together with some classmates and support from her community, she was able to create the TGIF (Turn Grease into Fuel) program that collects grease and oil from community residents and local restaurants. The collection is then turned into gallons of biofuel to heat homes. Their efforts off-set over two million pounds of carbon monoxide and donated over twenty-one thousand gallons of bioheat to help hundreds of families stay warm.
Over and over, we see young girls in our media portrayed as gold diggers, or fashionistas with no other motive than to garner followers on social media. Young boys are often portrayed as “heartbreakers” and the one every girl wants to date, or the one that is going to save the girl in distress. The message is, popular is better, and it creates a false sense of perfection in young minds. There are few messages that normalize kids embracing their unique vision and passion, to take them off the beaten path of popularity.
This book puts that message front and center by sharing fifty unique stories that began in someone’s childhood. Boys and girls of all ages will be inspired to be themselves and pursue their own unique passions in life. They don’t have to fit in the same mold as everyone else to make a difference and be happy in life. They can dare to be different and act.
The end of the book encourages kids to think about their own passions and natural skills and to consider how they can use them to make a difference. There are additional sources to learn more about each kid story located in the last pages of the book, and I adore the actual quotes from each kid shared in the illustrations.
You can purchase this book here to give away to a young child in your life, or to just enjoy it for yourself.
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