- Age Range: 3 - 7 years
- Grade Level: Preschool - 2
- Board book: 32 pages
- Publisher: Triangle Square; Brdbk edition (November 19, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1609805399
- ISBN-13: 978-1609805395
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 5.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A is for Activist Board book – November 19, 2013
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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
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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.
But oh, with kids... there's too much text on the page with too many unexplained referents for it to be satisfying in and of itself, and it's too exhausting to explain each of them with additional references. Kids will wander off. It doesn't put much meat on the bone where I might want it to be ("And Z is for Zapatista, of course!" That's it, kids! Go home! Figure out for yourselves what that means!) This is a shame, because I would like it to provide a bit more of an introduction to the concepts it names or else keep it brief and instantly comprehensible. Just a balance issue. There are a few pages where the letter focused upon is not the letter on the page (W in place of U, for instance) and that feels like a cop-out. It's altogether too much for my (very activist) spouse, who cringes to read it, finding it too kitschy.
But although I've listed its problems and I know it doesn't sound like I am a fan, I rather like the book; it's colorful, energetic, and unabashedly an advocate for social action. I am hoping that my child will retain tolerance for abecedarians long enough to be willing to engage in the research project of unpacking the content as he grows, but I think it may be a tough sell. Let me qualify my review with this info: he is a kindergartner who was reading above a 4th grade level (comprehension included) at age 4 -- so little-kid appeal and big-kid content may never have a better moment than this for him.
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.