Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A is for Activist Board book – November 19, 2013
From timeless classics to new favorites, find children's books for every age and stage. See more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—Not your typical alphabet board book, this one packs a powerful message both visually as well as verbally. Each spread presents a letter and a bit of social commentary urging children to take a stand against war and violence, develop an awareness of our environment, and promote acceptance and equality for all cultures, races, religions, genders, and walks of life. For example, "A is for Activist./Advocate. Abolitionist. Ally./Actively Answering A call to Action." "Y is for You. And Youth./Your planet. Your rights/Your future. Your truth./Y is for Yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!" Despite the format, this introduction to social justice is best suited to older children, who will need plenty of explanation and discussion to help them understand issues such as feminism or workers' rights. Nagara relies upon colorful illustrations—many representing the energy behind activism with arms and fists raised—lots of alliteration, and rhyming for each letter and idea. An ever-present black cat hiding or prowling on each letter's page seeks to hold listeners' interest as well. An unusual offering that may plant the seeds for and spark discussions about activism.—Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE
"Finally! A sassy and heartwarming board book to teach our children the alphabet of humane values. Innosanto Nagara knows that activism begins in the cradle, but to be sustainable, it has to be wide-ranging, deep-rooted, and based ultimately on a sense of fun and community. A is for Activist covers all this ground with a playful rhyming style that makes you want to turn the pages and read the book over and over again.The illustrations are so colorful, beautifully executed, little works of art in and of themselves. What a great book for children of all ages." --Julia Alvarez, author of A Wedding in Haiti: the Story of a Friendship and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and founding member of Border of Lights, an ongoing movement to promote peace and collaboration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, borderoflights.org
“Reading it is almost like reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, but for two-year olds—full of pictures and rhymes and a little cat to find on every page that will delight the curious toddler and parents alike.”—Occupy Wall Street
"Full of wit, beauty, and fun, we can think of no better way to learn the alphabet."—Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, author of The Shock Doctrine / filmmaker
"Fun, funny, exquisitely illustrated and brilliantly written with a message that is sure to resonate with kids. May a thousand young activists bloom!"—Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and Code Pink
"I wish this beautiful and inspiring book was around when my daughter was young, but fortunately there were plenty of cool children around today who will devour what Inno is serving up!"—Dan Zanes, maker of 21st century all-ages music and Grammy Award winning album Catch that Train!
"The alliteration and rhymes have the rhythm and fun of standard ABC books, burrowing into little ears and prompting memorization and spontaneous recitation."—Yes! Magazine
"A is for Activist offers an opportunity for parents to explore their values with their children. At this time in history we need books for children that use words like justice, ally, freedom, and advocate."—Rona Renner, RN, parent educator, and host of Childhood Matters radio show
"A is for Activist speaks to the possibilities of change, of proactive parenting, of creating community, and of celebrating our collective histories. This book is rad!"—Tomas Moniz, writer/editor rad dad zine, a zine on radical parenting
Top Customer Reviews
Some pages are perfect for the board-book set. The "K" page - "Kings are fine for storytime/knights are fun to play/but when we make decisions/we will choose the people's way" - is one of my favorites. It's a great, age-appropriate introduction to anti-imperialism. The "W" page has an absolutely beautiful poem about celebrating diversity. Several pages have a very lyrical rhythm to the writing that reminds me of rap music or spoken word poetry and is very fun to read.
Others, however, aren't really age appropriate. The "R" page, for example, uses a facetious/sarcastic tone that is way beyond the understanding of young children, especially when it's such a departure from the tone of the rest of the book. The "S" page has a great little poem celebrating solar power, but follows it up with "silly selfish scoundrels sucking on dinosaur sludge? Boo! Hiss!", a line I could easily imagine leading to a rather upsetting conversation for a sensitive preschooler, since right now the vast majority of families simply don't have access to fully sustainable power sources. The "D" page references, and is solely illustrated by, the donkey/elephant symbols of American party politics, which besides being internationally limiting is way over the heads of the target audience.
On the more academic side of things, there's the issue that this is, ostensibly, an *alphabet* book. The page for "U" - which says "U is for..." for several "W" words before correcting itself - drives my teacher sensibilities crazy. Ditto for the illustration for the "T" page, which doesn't depict any of the objects-starting-with-T that the text lists.
And while I wouldn't take off stars just for this, I do think there was a missed opportunity here for some parent education...I'd have loved to see a page in the back listing brief descriptions of the people mentioned in the text. There were some I'm not familiar with, and a little more to go on for looking them up would have been useful (there are several names on the "J" page, in particular, that I'm not sure if they're meant to reference specific individuals or not).
It's a great concept, and overall I like it and intend to keep it on my bookshelf, but I'm definitely bummed about the varying quality of writing from one page to the next.
Also it takes a very harsh stance on some topics which may be inappropriate for children. For example such strong negatives towards anyone who uses conventional power sources. (BOO, HISS! etc). I prefer the pages that advovate for change without quite so much negatively towards existing practicies to children who can't weigh other factors on complicted issues.
From A to Z, each page is dedicated to a different value or movement, with colorful, emotive illustrations to match. Nagara covers everything from feminism, to LGBTQ rights, interracial tolerance, to environmental justice; and across it all, the ability to think critically: “Q is for Question/ Querying Qualities counter false assertions”. On the “K” page the words read “Kings are fine for story time/ Knights are fun to play/ But when we make decisions/ we will choose the people’s way!” with an image of two kids playing with toy swords. This page not only emphasizes revolution and resistance, and the danger of centralized power, but also counters gender norms by showing a little girl in pink pigtails playing with a sword. On the “R” page the words read “‘Radical Reds!’ the headlines said/ ‘Ruinous Rioters!’ the Rumors spread/ ‘Rabble Rousing Riff Raff…’/ …Really?’”, mocking misguided, public perceptions of activists and protesters. The image shows a large crowd of people in solidarity at a candle light vigil, and many of the faces can actually be recognized as prominent, historical figures. Nagara, on his book’s Facebook page, provides a “Who’s Who” of the faces he illustrated, and they include Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Dorothy Day, Ella Baker, Cesar Chávez, Malati Choudhury and Leo Tolstoy, amongst many others.
This book was originally written in English, but has been rewritten in Spanish as A de Activista by Martha González. The Spanish version still has the same illustrations by Innosanto Nagara and the writing follows the same themes of political activism and social justice, though some of the pages have been slightly altered to either facilitate translation, or call closer attention to Latin American society and culture. In both the English and the Spanish version, the “F” page is dedicated to feminism and feministas, however, the Spanish translation also dedicates the “F” page to Frida Kahlo: “F de Frida/ ¡F de foco que brilla como el futuro!/ Para las feministas fabulosas,/ Mujeres y niñas”. Also in both the English and the Spanish, the “I” page stands for indígena and immigrante: “Indigenous and Immigrant./ Together we stand tall./ Our histories are relevant./ An Injury to one Is an Injury to all”. The illustration shows a collage of eyes of people with all different skin colors, reinforcing diversity and unity, and the idea that it is every citizen’s duty to be vigilant and look out for injustices.
Nagara’s book has received many great reviews and has been hailed as a must for parents and educators trying to teach their kids about social justice. The book has even been linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement and praised as a “book for the kids of the 99 percent”. Although “Occupy” was not included in the “O” page of the book, the illustration of a pink Wall Street bull with an owl sitting on its back certainly alludes to the movement, implying that wisdom (represented by the owl) can trump injustice (the domination of Wall Street, represented by the bull). The page’s background is light images of a brain and the words at the top read, “O is for Open minds Operate best/ Critical thinking Over tests/ Wisdom can’t be memorized/ Educate! Agitate! Organize!”
Although the book is meant for ages 0-3, Rethinking Schools has suggested that it can even be used with older kids: “It could also be used as a prompt for older students to create their own alphabet books with a conscience.” This unique alphabet book encourages young readers to stand up for what they believe in, engage with their community, and become aware of the social movements going on around them, at any age.
Nagara’s pointed social agenda is counterbalanced by the playful rhythm and rhyme of his writing. Throughout the book he maintains a light-hearted and positive tone that is at once kid-friendly and empowering. Shaya Tayefe Mohaje, in her online review titled “‘A’ is for Activist, ‘B’ is for a book you should read your children,” lauds Nagara for his use of “clever rhymes—à la Dr. Seuss—and an open love for peace and equality—à la Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”. The book’s illustrations include images of children of a variety of races and ethnicities, as well as handicapped children in wheelchairs, to match Nagara’s call for diversity and tolerance. The children are all shown laughing, speaking, and marching with fists in the air, giving them full agency. Nagara visibly works to include under-represented communities and, according to a Publisher’s Weekly review, has stated that “The statistics on racial diversity alone in children’s books are appalling, not to mention gender, LGBTQ families, and progressive values in general.” Nagara challenges this norm and makes every child from every background a protagonist in his story, while teaching new generations the value of activism.
To access the complete review and additional sources, check out my post at teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.wordpress.com