Books for Young Activists

Books for Young Activists

In the last month, I have written a half-dozen letters to politicians and even make a few calls. That’s more than I’ve ever done in my life politically, with the exception of that Saturday in New Hampshire when I first arrived at college. My friend, David Nacht, persuaded me to campaign for Gary Hart and I spent the day in knocking on doors and talking to mostly elderly white people. I hated it. Even worse, the campaign staff persuaded made me write handwritten letters to everyone that I talked to. (I hate writing handwritten letters. My hand cramps and my handwriting is illegible, even for me.) I was done with politics, forever!

I’m not sure if I am a “snowflake,” but I do know this. Last night I shoveled one foot of snow around my house, and it was a tad overwhelming. In the same way, small acts can add up to a very powerful message.

trump nordstroms tweet

For example … like you, I was shocked that Trump used his POTUS account to complain about Nordstrom’s dropping the Ivanka brand. This tells me two things:

  • #GrabYourWallet boycott is really working.
  • Trump cares more about his family brand that paying attention in briefings despite his botched raid in Yemen in which one Navy Seal died as well as civilians including women and children.
  • Nordstroms might be the first bowling pin that takes the Trump brand down.

It was also surprising to see KellyAnne Conway pitching Ivanka brand in her official capacity as Senior Advisor to the President. While this appears to violate federal law, ethics regulations and traditional standards of conduct, it turns out that the White House is responsible for disciplinary action: imagine Trump high-fiving her.

Some followers on my social media have asked me to “leave politics to the politicians” or “can we g back to children’s books please?” That’s so interesting to me. Did you know:

Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence.  Influence means that even when a woman isn’t paying for something herself, she is often the influence or veto vote behind someone else’s purchase. Forbes: Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Women Consumers

We, as women, mothers, caregivers, consumers, and purchasers, drive the economy. That’s pretty powerful.

It’s just crummy that we have a president in the United States that is on the wrong side of a lot of things that I believe in such as climate change. But look how one women can make a difference:

power of women swedish climate law

And, today’s video (in English) from Emmanuel Macron, a leading candidate for French Presidency in May of 2017, in which he invites U.S. Climate Change scientists to come and work for the French instead.

He says, “I do know how your new President now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, as he is extremely skeptical about climate change.”

To these scientists, he says, “Please, come to France, you are welcome. It’s your nation, we like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables, and new technologies. France is your nation.”

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says refugees are welcome.

It may be that there are items on Trump’s agenda align with you, my reader, such as Pro Life, private school vouchers, oil jobs, or a myriad of other issues. I’m not saying that you have to agree with me. But what will it take for our president — yes, ours — to focus on running our country instead of hocking his personal business interests?  Is the bar so low, that we have to ask repeatedly for this?

What is clear to me, is that the only message that Trump is taking seriously is one that hurts his personal bottom line. So I will reach out to these stores in my area and let them know that as long as they carry Trump family merchandise, I — and my family — won’t be shopping there:


Amway (DeVos)


Lyft (Peter Thiel)

LL Bean




T.J. Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods

Lord & Taylor

Bed Bath & Beyond

New Balance

See’s Candies

Filene’s Basement

King’s Hawaiian


All Trump Properties





Saks Off Fifth


Universal Studios Hollywood



Carnival Cruises


We, as women, hold the cards. If we want to “leave politics to the politicians,” then are we also supposed to “leave the boardroom to the white men?”  Are we supposed to accept 59 cents on average for every dollar paid to men? Is that the message that we have for our children? Our girls?

This Trump administration has galvanized the activist in me. I hope it does for you too. Even if we disagree on issues.

For those who want book lists, here are some book for young activists.

Books for Young Activists

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! by Kate Schatz, illustrated by  Miriam Klein Stahl

I get a lot of books for free to review but when I saw this book reviewed by another blogger, I had to have it. I bought it myself and I’ve enjoyed learning about female activists, a few who were new to me. [nonfiction short biography book, ages 8 and up]

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

It was a thrill for me to meet both Carole and Ekua in Roxbury. I had never heard of Fannie Lou Hamer before and it moved me to learn that she was beaten so severely in jail that it caused permanent damage to her kidneys. Not only did the police beat her, but when they grew tired, they made another prisoner beat her. [picture book, ages 6 and up]


Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya, illustrated by L. C. Wheatley

Even a child can send a powerful message. Everyone should learn about Malala! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George, illustrated by Janna Bock

Here’s an advanced picture book in chapters for ages 8 and up.

Who is Malala Yousafzai? by Dinah Brown, illustrated by Andrew Thomson

An early chapter book for ages 6 and up.

Here are books that show how girls changed the garment industry with their bravery at the turn of the century.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michele Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully

A fictionalized story about a bobbin girl and the difficult choices she has to make. She needs to work to support her struggling family, but the conditions are poor. Does she dare join in the protest? [picture book, ages 6 and up]

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young

Minnie and Tessa are unlikely friends because it isn’t easy for an Italian American Catholic girl and a Jewish girl to be friends in 1911. But they are both fourteen-years-old sit side by side working as sewing operators in a factory with dangerous working conditions. When a big fire breaks out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, their friendship and quick thinking saves them from perishing in the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Is nine-years-old too young to make a difference? The true story of Audrey Faye Hendricks. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

Ruby Bridges Mia Wenjen PragmaticMom

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

It was an honor and a privilege to meet Ruby Bridges when she visited my kids’ elementary school. I learned more about her story which is also told in her book. [picture book, ages 8 and up]

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Because it’s never too early to teach kids about activism. An alphabet book with a powerful message. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

I was so happy to learn about Julius Lester from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2017. Use this book to initiate an open-ended conversation about race. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice series) by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette

This series celebrates real-life heroes and heroines of social progress. This is Fred’s story of standing up for justice by refusing to go to Japanese Internment camps for simply being of Japanese descent. He went to jail for resisting and his courage made the United States a fairer place for all Americans. [ages 10 and up]

Fred Korematsu: All American Hero by Anupam Chander, Madhavi Sunder, and  Angelia Loi

Using a comic book format, this book tells the story of Fred Korematsu, a mild-mannered ordinary welder working in a shipyard who fights for justice during WWII. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Books for Young Activists

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Great lists of books to encourage kids to become involved in issues they care about. Excellent post today. I used to do PR for senate caucus in my state, but I hated the unspoken word that I must spend my weekends campaigning. Hated it — not natural for me. Have also written letters periodically, when it is necessary. Like your idea about not shopping at stores where Trump sells his products. It is unsettling when we have a president more concerned about his businesses than running the country. These are very teachable moments in history for our generation. And, we have the power to educate/teach the upcoming generations, who will be our leaders.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Ashes: The Seeds of America TrilogyMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Pat! I hated campaigning also, the door to door part! I’m so impressed with how everyone is becoming an activist because I feel we’ve all been apathetic towards politics in general during the last few decades. It’s interesting to realize when our democracy feels threatened, how it brings out a different side of people. I am following and avoiding companies that support Trump. I am also making calls and using social media to make change. It’s amazing how powerful it is to effect change. That makes me hopeful.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Nian Monster Chinese New Year Author EventMy Profile

  2. Dear PragmaticMom – thank you so much for this post today. As I was watching George Takei on TV Democracy Now! this morning I was getting depressed about what is happening to people in this country. My heart is breaking. I attend every demonstration that I can — about seven since #45 took over. But somehow feel it isn’t enough. I am recovering from two cancers so my energy is still limited. But your post gives me hope and I know our younger generations are also caring and wanting to do something to make our country better. Thank you for posting this on Presidents Day! So appropriate!! Activism from below is our only hope, IMHO.

    • Dear Joan,
      Know that the good in everyone is coming out. Moms that I know who haven’t been active are now marching, making calls and using their budgets to make a political statement. My kids are active too; my teen marched and is active on social media. An entire generation of kids know how powerful banding together can be. Moms too, in my area, are organizing, and using their wallets to let companies know that they will be boycotted. It’s pretty powerful when we work together. I think our kids’ generation will look back at this Trump era as a dark time when the people took to the streets and put down that terrible administration. We just have to get through a few more years.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Nian Monster Chinese New Year Author EventMy Profile

  3. Do you know the book, “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up”? I think it may be new – a friend just introduced it to me this weekend. It’s worth a read – and sharing with kids.
    maryanne recently posted…The Best Kids Activities For A Gruffalo Preschool Learning UnitMy Profile

  4. Amen, Mia!! Thanks for all of these great book recommendations!

    I have been making calls nearly every day. I even called out-of-state Senators, like Collins and Murkowski, multiple times, and Elizabeth Warren’s office to thank her. It’s funny, I remember how afraid I was to make that very first call. Now they all practically know me by name. The local rep probably says oh, no, it’s her again ;). That’s all we have, and as you say, the power of the pocketbook. I only use Amazon regularly of the above retailers, so I’ll have to curtail my usage. I’m also proud to say that I switched bank accounts, since mine was one supporting the Dakota pipeline. A blip for them perhaps, but I feel better knowing I’m not personally supporting it. All of Trump’s behavior is outrageous on so many levels. It has me pining for the good ole days of George W. Bush–how can that even be? Thanks for all your hard work for diversity, which we need more than ever now with the administration assaulting everything we believe in, and that makes our nation the wonderful melting pot that it is!

    • I feel the same way; actually praising George W Bush?!!! And thinking that he wasn’t that bad compared to Trump. How low the bar has dropped! But I am hopeful to see like minded people working together to effect change. It’s an effective strategy against corruption and all the other bad things happening. I called Angie’s List customer service two days ago to complain that they are continuing to advertise on O’Reilly show. They called me back today to say that they are switching their ad dollars out. It’s the result of pressure of people making a stand and taking time to let them know that they disagree. I doubt I would have cared or done anything ten or twenty years ago so that’s also good. It feels like WWII when the women went to work at the factories because the men were fighting on the front, but then they couldn’t go back into the kitchen after that. Everything shifted. Now, I think everything has shifted in that we, as ordinary citizens, don’t take government for granted that they are doing the right things. There’s more vigilance, and more effort to fight against corruption. And then there’s the knowledge of how powerful moms are who control the family budget. I don’t we, as a group, have realized how much financial clout we have as a group and now we are channeling it in a way that makes corporations very nervous.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Nian Monster Chinese New Year Author EventMy Profile

  5. Yes, yes, yes! I love this list, and this post! We need to inspire the next generation to take up the good fight and have the confidence in themselves to stand up for what they believe to be right.

  6. Good for you, Mia. And these are good books for helping our young, new generation to find their moral compass in a global arena… They are our hope.
    Marjorie (MWD) recently posted…Diverse Children’s Books Link-Up – 4 MarchMy Profile

    • Hi Marjorie,
      This young generation gives me hope. My teen girls are adamant that our next cars are hybrids or electric and they really are worried about the environment, as well as women’s rights. Here’s to the next generation who has to fix the problems that we hand to them. And there are plenty of serious ones!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Nian Monster Chinese New Year Author EventMy Profile

  7. Well said! Thank you so much for this post and the list of books. This is a wonderful resource!
    Jennifer Brunk recently posted…Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018My Profile

  8. Great intro to your post! I have only read a few of these books. Saving this to check them out at our library so I can read with my son. Thanks for sharing at MCCBD!

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