REVIEW: ‘Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change’

By Robin Stevenson, illus. Allison Steinfeld, ages 8-12, Quirk Books, hardcover, $13.95


As long as Quirk continues its fascinating “Kid” series, you can expect to see a review here of each new title as it appears. Just out this month, “Kid Activists” recounts the formative experiences of future game-changers.

Stevenson begins with Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery, Douglass learned to read from his owner’s wife. Finding out, her husband raged that once the boy could read, he’d have no value as a slave. As soon as Douglass had a chance, he taught other slaves to read. Many years passed before he escaped and became one of the nation’s most famous black men as a public speaker whose stirring words contributed to defeating slavery.

Stevenson next turns her attention to Dolores Huerta who grew up in Stockton, Calif. Dolores threw herself into projects for underprivileged people, even at an early age. As a young woman, she allied with the cause of migrant workers. After meeting Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association.

A third surprising entry, Emma Watson always aspired to acting. But as a child, she couldn’t say “actress” so she’d say she’d like to be a mattress. She landed the part of Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movies at age nine. The franchise lasted for eight installments. With perseverance and dedicated studying, she managed to attend Oxford University in her hometown during filming. Next, she enrolled in college in the United States. She developed an interest in fair trade, poverty and the rights of women globally. In 2014 the United Nations appointed her as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. She launched the “He for She” campaign at U.N. headquarters, urging men and boys to join the fight for gender equality.

“Kid Activists” brings wonderful details to light for these remarkable figures and over a dozen more, including Alexander Hamilton, Susan B. Anthony and Malala Yousafzai.

Stevenson’s profiles fully deliver on the inspiring notion planted in the book’s introduction: “Have you ever noticed something that didn’t seem fair? Do you sometimes wish that you could make the world a better place for everyone? If so, then maybe you will become an activist!”

This column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club.

Story First Published: 2019-09-20