Chelsea Clinton’s new book has, at its heart, a truth that any parent will recognize: kids want to help. Kids’ astute observations combined with their natural curiosity result in an infinite number of questions about the world around them.
“Why is that person sad?”
“Why are they talking about death on the radio?”
“Why are those people sleeping on the ground?”
Parents, wanting to shield their children from the world’s hardships for as long as possible, might struggle to answer some of these questions truthfully.
Ms. Clinton’s book It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, and Get Going! speaks directly to kids, and answers their questions about difficulties around the world and in their own neighborhoods. Ms Clinton’s language is approachable and simple. She seeks to inspire compassion, not anxiety or fear, in her readers. Several times she asks her readers to imagine what it would feel like to be in someone else’s shoes – to be hungry or homeless, for example – and she reminds us to be grateful for all that we have.
The book’s four main parts are “It’s Your Economy,” dealing with global and national economies; “It’s Your Right,” dealing with education and gender inequality; “It’s Your Body,” dealing with topics in health such as vaccines and sanitation; and “It’s Your Environment,” which covers ecological challenges such as global warming and endangered species. Each part begins with an educational section, then includes inspiring stories about people around the world (mostly young people) who are making positive impacts, and ends with a list of things that the reader can do to contribute to solutions.
Her tone throughout these chapters is casually conversational, which keeps the book from sounding like a textbook. She strikes just the right balance between addressing her readers with respect for their intelligence and not getting mired in complex details.
Elementary-school aged kids could read parts of this book side-by-side with a grown-up, and they would find many ideas for small acts they could do to help in their communities. The book is a more natural fit for middle and high schoolers, and would be a perfect choice for Girl Scout groups and other clubs that are interested in community service.
Because the book covers a wide array of topics, it would work well as a reference book in a family library. Children and parents could dip into its pages, seeking answers to those frequent questions about the world, and suggestions for making a real difference. Ms. Clinton’s book encourages kids to see themselves as thinkers, leaders, and activists who are capable of making substantial change in the world.
It is theirs, after all.
Shannon blogs about her bookish life at www.shannonrigney.com
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