‘Kids Who Are Changing the World’ shows that activism is for all ages

This year, your teachers say you’ve changed a lot.

You’ve grown a couple of inches, which is the first thing they noticed. They say you’re not a little kid anymore, that you’re more mature.

Your hair is different, or you got new glasses, you smile more. You’ve changed, and that’s good. So find “Kids Who Are Changing the World” by Anne Jankeliowitch, photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, to read about kids who have different changes in mind.

Someday, the planet on which you’re standing will be yours. That means you probably want to take good care of it and of the other people who’ll own it, too. No doubt, you’ve got some awesome (and very unique) ideas on how to do that. And if not — well, why not learn from kids who’ve done something for the Earth?

Twenty years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, people are still talking about the 12-year-old Canadian girl who “silenced the world.” Severn Cullis-Suzuki gave a speech in front of United Nations delegates who sat, quietly, and listened to the powerful words she had to say. You can still, in fact, see clips of her speech online.

Alex Lin was upset at the lack of recycling of electronic equipment — so he changed the whole state of Rhode Island by helping to pass laws on electronic waste. Best of all, he and his friends refurbish computers and donate them to schools in Sri Lanka, Mexico, the Philippines and Kenya.

Qier Qiu from China urges people to eat with reusable chopsticks, thereby saving trees. Thirteen-year-old Anya Suslova collected water samples for scientists in Russia. Laurie Wolff in Nevada persuaded her school to use virtual dissection in biology class. A girl in India asked her school to compost with worms. Ten-year-old Jahmali Bridgewater from Bermuda attended a conference to exchange ideas with kids around the world.

Your project can be easy (many children planted trees or created educational websites) or it can be very complicated (Annie Collins of British Columbia helped set up a fair trade program for her city.) It can be big (a California boy filed a lawsuit) or small (just picking up litter helps!).

So what’s your next project?

That’s a hard question when you’re a kid. Where do you start?

“Kids Who are Changing The World” answers that by giving your child plenty of ideas that will provoke thoughts for you, too. For instance, it’s impressive to see the variety of kids that the author features: children — some still in grade school, some in non-traditional learning environments — who saw a need and acted upon it, proving there is no age or ability limit to make a difference. I was also glad to see such passion for the planet — and when you add in photography by Arthus-Bertrand, you’ve got a hopeful, optimistic winner to read.

Not all kids will clamor for this book, but ecology-minded 10- to 15-year-olds will surely be inspired by it. Hand them “Kids Who are Changing the World” and see how they change, too.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children and teens weekly.

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