11 Great Books That Encourage Kid Empowerment

Kids—let your voices be heard!

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Check out these titles that help encourage kids to stand up and let their voices be heard!

Our annual State of the Kid™ survey asked two thousand of kids across the country: Do you think the world really cares about what kids have to say? Fifty-nine percent of kids answered: YES!

How can we help more kids understand that the world really does care about what they have to say? Give your kids one of these books all about regular people standing up for what they believe in and help reinforce that just because they are kids, their voices and opinions are no less important!

 

1. I Just Like You

By Suzanne Bloom 

Ages 3-7

A sweet group of animals shows readers that even though others might look, talk, or walk differently, we can all like each other just as we are. With a subtle message of patience and acceptance, this charming book features animal friends who like each other despite—and because of—their differences. An elephant and a cat might look different from each other, a lemur and a stork might enjoy different activities, and a lion and a mouse might have different hairstyles, but all the animals value and appreciate one another, as shown by exuberant scenes of playing together. 

2. This Orq. (He Say “Ugh!”)

By David Elliot

Ages 4-8

This companion to This Orq. (He Cave Boy.) pits Orq and Woma against a couple of stone-age bullies. Dorq is big, strong, and mean . . . and his pet, Caba, is even worse. But when Caba smashes a giant egg on Woma, Orq is so incensed he bangs two rocks together over and over, creating a spark. Like all good scientists, Orq recognizes an important discovery when he sees it. As he raises a flaming torch triumphantly, Dorq and Caba flee. Small Orq is the inventor of fire—and is a hero to his beloved Woma. An ode to the power of standing up for oneself, this book is the perfect antidote for any child who has ever felt small.

3. Start Now!: You Can Make a Difference

By Chelsea Clinton

Ages 7-10

What can I do to help save endangered animals? How can I eat healthy? Why do I need to cover my mouth when I cough? What do I do if I'm being bullied?

With information on problems both large and small, Chelsea Clinton breaks down the concepts of health, hunger, climate change, endangered species and bullying, so that readers can understand the world around them, and how they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in their communities and the world at large.

4. Garvey’s Choice

By Nikki Grimes

Ages 8-12

Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also obese, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports.

5. A Lady Has the Floor

By Kate Hannigan

Ages 9-12 

Activist Belva Lockwood was bold, determined, and strong!  She never stopped asking herself the question Are women not worth the same as men? She had big dreams and didn't let anyone stand in her waynot her father, her law school, or even the U.S. Supreme Court. She fought for equality for women in the classroom, in the courtroom, and in politics. In her quest for fairness and parity, Lockwood ran for President of the United States, becoming the first woman on the ballot. 

6. Rescue

By Jessie Haas

Ages 9-12

Shy farm girl Joni’s new friendship with animal rights activist Chess unravels when Chess’s views push Joni too far in this layered coming-of-age story about two girls and their love for horses. Joni’s world revolves around her beloved horse, Archie, and her family’s Vermont sheep farm. When outspoken, sophisticated Chess moves nearby, Joni is drawn to her, even though Chess questions everything Joni loves—working horses, eating cheese, having pets, and even the farm itself. Torn between desperately wanting a friendship and resenting Chess’s assumptions about horses and farms, Joni mostly keeps her opinions to herself. But when Chess steals their neighbor’s miniature horses to “rescue” them, Joni finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs.

7. Babe Conquers the World

By Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

Ages 9+

Babe Didrikson Zaharias had one driving goal: to become the greatest athlete who ever lived. And she made good on that promise with a meteoric rise to famed basketball player, Olympic medalist, and top female golfer. But there was more to Babe than just sports. Noted novelists and sportswriters Rich and Sandra Wallace expose the many controversies surrounding this famous female athlete—her upbringing, personality, marriage, and even her early death.

8. Voices from the March on Washington

By J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon

Ages 10+

The powerful poems in this poignant collection weave together multiple voices to tell the story of the March on Washington, DC, in 1963. From the woman singing through a terrifying bus ride to DC, to the teenager who came partly because his father told him, “Don’t you dare go to that march,” to the young child riding above the crowd on her father’s shoulders, each voice brings a unique perspective to this tale. As the characters tell their personal stories of this historic day, their chorus plunges readers into the experience of being at the march—walking shoulder to shoulder with strangers, hearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, heading home inspired.

9. Twelve Days in May

By Larry Dane Brimner

Ages 10+

On May 4, 1961, a group of thirteen black and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Ride, aiming to challenge the practice of segregation on buses and at bus terminal facilities in the South. The Ride would last twelve days. Despite the fact that segregation on buses crossing state lines was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1946, and segregation in interstate transportation facilities was ruled unconstitutional in 1960, these rulings were routinely ignored in the South. The thirteen Freedom Riders intended to test the laws and draw attention to the lack of enforcement with their peaceful protest. As the Riders traveled deeper into the South, they encountered increasing violence and opposition.

10. Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights

By Deborah Kops

Ages 10+

Especially relevant in today’s political climate, here is the story of Alice Paul, an extraordinary leader in the long struggle for votes for women. She reignited the sleepy women’s suffrage movement with dramatic demonstrations and provocative banners. And after women won the vote in 1920, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would make all the laws that discriminated against women unconstitutional. In addition, Paul saw another chance to advance women’s rights when the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 began moving through Congress. She set in motion the “sex amendment,” which remains a crucial legal tool for helping women fight discrimination in the workplace.

11. The Enemy

By Sara Holbrook

Ages 10+

Set in 1954, this compelling historical novel tells the story of a young girl’s struggles and triumphs in the aftermath of World War II. The war is over, but the threat of communism and the Cold War loom over the United States. In Detroit, Michigan, twelve-year-old Marjorie Campbell struggles with the ups and downs of family life, dealing with her veteran father’s unpredictable outbursts, keeping her mother’s stash of banned library books a secret, and getting along with her new older “brother,” the teenager her family took in after his veteran father’s death. When a new girl from Germany transfers to Marjorie’s class, Marjorie finds herself torn between befriending Inga and pleasing her best friend, Bernadette, by writing in a slam book that spreads rumors about Inga. Marjorie seems to be confronting enemies everywhere—at school, at the library, in her neighborhood, and even in the news. In all this turmoil, Marjorie tries to find her own voice and figure out what is right and who the real enemies actually are.

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