Positive Change, Begins in a Book
Acts of kindness, acts of protest, acts of bravery – all of these can bring positive change to the world, and all of them can begin with a book. Reading about a situation is not the same as dealing with it in real life, but children and adults can find inspiration, motivation, and great role models in the pages of these excellent picture books.
Reading = Kindness
Most People by Michael Leannah
Most People by Michael Leannah opens with smiles and laughter, two things most people love to do. Sure, some people do bad things, but far more often, people want to help, encourage, dance, and play. This book is filled with inspiring examples of human goodness.
Also strongly recommended:
Reading = Awareness
Before She Was Harriet by Lisa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome
In My Wounded Island by Jacques Pasquet, a young Inuit girl describes the gradual shrinking of her island home due to rising sea levels. The girl imagines a ghostly underwater monster, a striking metaphor for the effects of climate change that are threatening the lives and livelihoods of some people.
● See how one child’s toy might be the result of another child’s labor in I Don’t Like by Anna Baccelliere.
● Witness the life of a homeless girl living in as shelter in Still a Family by Brenda Reeves Sturgis.
Reading = inclusion
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers starts as an account of the construction of the Statue of Liberty, its arrival in the United States, and the details of its stance and posture. Then, focusing on the position of the statue’s right foot, Eggers proposes that she is moving forward to greet immigrants, and suggests that we do the same.
Other books that celebrate differences and diversity:
● Revel in the discovery of a totally inclusive, fantastically diverse land in Neither by Airlie Anderson.
● See a friendly bear struggle for and win the right to compete in Splahsdance by Liz Starin.
Reading = Empathy
The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein
The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein, in which a boy who was once caught in a net now saves a whale from the same danger, offers a clear lesson in empathy. The boy knows how the whale feels and cannot leave it to die, despite his father’s discouragement.
There are never too many books encouraging empathy.
● Watch a family of bears enact the golden rule in Shelter by Celine Claire .
● Marvel at the diversity of people in the world and how being unique connects us to each other in No One Else Like You by Siska Goeminne .
Reading = Protest
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra
Describing acts of civil disobedience throughout world history, The Wedding Portrait by Innosanto Nagara helps children understand that sometimes the right thing to do involves breaking the rules. The text is conversational, passionate, and empowering.
Inspired? Read on!
● Meet nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks, arrested during a civil rights protest in 1963, in The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson.
● Join Josephine Mandamin as she walks in protest and to raise awareness of pollution in The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson.