Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Making a Difference: Never Too Young: by Aileen Weintraub

You're never too young to make a difference in your world.

All through history young people have done great things and worked significant change in the time and place where they lived.

Some, like Ruby Bridges, who single-handedly integrated a formerly all-white elementary school in 1960. She was only a first-grader, but her courage and grit carried her through.

Ruby and her mother had to be escorted to school. People on the sidewalk called them terrible names. Her father was fired from his job. She ate lunch alone, but she didn't miss a single day of school that year.

Who can forget the Norman Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post of that six-year-old girl in her spotless new school dress flanked by burly federal marshals? Ruby Bridge's bravery and determination became the poster child for school integration, but also emblematic of the enormous roles the young sometimes take on in many areas of human life.

Aileen Weintraub's just published Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference (Sterling Books, 2018) features inspiring thumbnail biographies of forty-nine other young people whose actions in their time--from the medieval girl knight Joan of Arc to Pocahontas to Claudette Colvin, whose refusal to give up her bus seat paved the way for Rosa Parks--have literally changed history. Other young people like Helen Keller, Louis Braille, and Malala Yousafzai have encouraged others to overcome setbacks, and some less-well-known young leaders like Katie Stagliano, who led a movement for neighborhood gardens and Praveen Kumar Gorakavi, whose brilliance in engineering and technology led him to invent new and affordable forms of prosthetics and water-purifying systems have made big contributions to others.

There are also brief biographies of celebrity prodigies such as Shirley Temple, Bobby Fischer, Louis Armstrong, Clara Schumann, Stevie Wonder, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who showed that young people don't have to wait to start their life's work. Author Weintraub works a great deal of information into each brisk and detailed one-page biography, every one accompanied by a engaging full-page colored portrait illustration, which may inspire readers to believe that they, too, can do a lot in their world. This collective biography is recommended for middle readers for free reading or for research and is a valuable purchase for elementary and middle school libraries.

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