Picture Books, Social Justice

8 Picture Books for Kids Excited About Taking Political Action

It seems like Americans are more interested in ever than taking part in their democracy—and kids want in on the action! But how does a child speak up, march, or make a change in this great, big world? These eight books are full of ideas for young activists, telling the stories of kids who took steps to speak out and safeguard their passions, from wildlife to education to equality. Most of these kids started their activism small, in their own backyards, and some of them eventually became known all over the globe.

Malala's Magic Pencil

Malala's Magic Pencil

Hardcover $15.99 $17.99

Malala's Magic Pencil

By Malala Yousafzai
Illustrator Kerascoët

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Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët (illustrator)
When Malala Yousafzai was little, she loved to watch a TV show about a boy with a magic pencil. He could draw anything and it would appear. She dreams of a magic pencil of her own, to “put a lock on my door, so my brothers couldn’t bother me” and to fulfill other fun wishes. One day she sees girls picking through a trash heap instead of going to school, and her wishes change. She wants to help all girls go to school. So she starts to speak out—writing letters and articles to advocate for girls’ education. Her pencil was magic after all—enough to transform her into the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s story shows kids how to start from where they are, observing problems close to home and advocating for local change. Who knows where these efforts might one day lead!

Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët (illustrator)
When Malala Yousafzai was little, she loved to watch a TV show about a boy with a magic pencil. He could draw anything and it would appear. She dreams of a magic pencil of her own, to “put a lock on my door, so my brothers couldn’t bother me” and to fulfill other fun wishes. One day she sees girls picking through a trash heap instead of going to school, and her wishes change. She wants to help all girls go to school. So she starts to speak out—writing letters and articles to advocate for girls’ education. Her pencil was magic after all—enough to transform her into the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s story shows kids how to start from where they are, observing problems close to home and advocating for local change. Who knows where these efforts might one day lead!

Me...Jane

Me...Jane

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Me...Jane

By Patrick McDonnell

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Me…Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
The astonishing career of Jane Goodall, one of the most renowned conservationists, all began when she was a little girl and had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. Jane started studying the animals right in her backyard, making drawings and notes about her observations. When she sat in the chicken coop all day to find out where eggs came from, her patience was rewarded when she observed the answer. “It was a magical world full of joy and wonder,” McDonnell writes, “and Jane felt very much a part of it.” Jane Goodall writes in an afterword, “the life of each one of us matters in the scheme of things, and I encourage everyone, especially young people, to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.”

Me…Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
The astonishing career of Jane Goodall, one of the most renowned conservationists, all began when she was a little girl and had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. Jane started studying the animals right in her backyard, making drawings and notes about her observations. When she sat in the chicken coop all day to find out where eggs came from, her patience was rewarded when she observed the answer. “It was a magical world full of joy and wonder,” McDonnell writes, “and Jane felt very much a part of it.” Jane Goodall writes in an afterword, “the life of each one of us matters in the scheme of things, and I encourage everyone, especially young people, to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment.”

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

Hardcover $18.99

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

By Cynthia Levinson
Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton

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Hardcover $18.99

The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley Newton (illustrator)
When Audrey Faye Hendricks was nine, she lived in segregated Birmingham, Alabama. She wished for the luxuries only white kids got: the right to eat their ice cream inside the ice cream store and new textbooks instead of hand-me-down texts. She and her parents were part of a congregation strategizing how to end segregation. When one night at church, Martin Luther King Jr. suggests that protesting children being arrested might change people’s minds, Audrey jumps up and volunteers. “I want to go to jail,” she says. She marches with older children and teenagers and is arrested. Brave Audrey spends seven long days in juvenile detention. Her efforts, and those of her companions, eventually changed people’s minds and convinced Birmingham to change its Jim Crow laws. Sometimes the best way for kids to get started with political action is to put on their marching shoes!

The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley Newton (illustrator)
When Audrey Faye Hendricks was nine, she lived in segregated Birmingham, Alabama. She wished for the luxuries only white kids got: the right to eat their ice cream inside the ice cream store and new textbooks instead of hand-me-down texts. She and her parents were part of a congregation strategizing how to end segregation. When one night at church, Martin Luther King Jr. suggests that protesting children being arrested might change people’s minds, Audrey jumps up and volunteers. “I want to go to jail,” she says. She marches with older children and teenagers and is arrested. Brave Audrey spends seven long days in juvenile detention. Her efforts, and those of her companions, eventually changed people’s minds and convinced Birmingham to change its Jim Crow laws. Sometimes the best way for kids to get started with political action is to put on their marching shoes!

A is for Activist

A is for Activist

Hardcover $17.95

A is for Activist

By Innosanto Nagara

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Hardcover $17.95

A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
This energizing, colorful alphabet book will give kids plenty of ideas of how to be an activist. Being an activist can be as simple as asking questions or saying, “No!” Being an activist can also mean saying “Yes,” forming a co-op, raising a banner, and advocating for healthy food for others.

A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
This energizing, colorful alphabet book will give kids plenty of ideas of how to be an activist. Being an activist can be as simple as asking questions or saying, “No!” Being an activist can also mean saying “Yes,” forming a co-op, raising a banner, and advocating for healthy food for others.

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Hardcover $18.99

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

By Arun Gandhi , Bethany Hegedus
Illustrator Evan Turk

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Hardcover $18.99

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, by Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk (illustrator)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to grow up as the grandchild of a great leader for peace, this story has the answer. Arun Gandhi grew up in his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram. “The purpose of ashram life was to live simply and nonviolently” Gandhi and Hegedus write. Young Arun is expected to live by the ashram’s eleven vows, and the one that gives him the most trouble is the pledge not to waste. Arun struggles to live up to the lofty example set by his grandfather, but learns through trial and error. Your budding young activists can start with this goal: How can they eliminate waste in all parts of their lives?

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, by Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk (illustrator)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to grow up as the grandchild of a great leader for peace, this story has the answer. Arun Gandhi grew up in his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram. “The purpose of ashram life was to live simply and nonviolently” Gandhi and Hegedus write. Young Arun is expected to live by the ashram’s eleven vows, and the one that gives him the most trouble is the pledge not to waste. Arun struggles to live up to the lofty example set by his grandfather, but learns through trial and error. Your budding young activists can start with this goal: How can they eliminate waste in all parts of their lives?

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

Hardcover $16.99 $18.99

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

By H. Joseph Hopkins
Illustrator Jill McElmurry

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Hardcover $16.99 $18.99

Tree Lady: The True story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, by H. Joseph Hopkins and Jill McElmurry
Katherine Sessions grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, a time when girls “weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty” or study science. But Sessions loved being outdoors and learning all about the majestic trees that surrounded her. She became the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Teaching was one of the few jobs available to women back then, and so Kate took a job teaching in San Diego, a town that lacked the trees she so loved in her childhood home. No one thought she could get trees to grow in the desert climate, but she researched trees from all over the world, and encouraged San Diegans to plant them until the town became the lush, green paradise that it is today, with Balboa Park, the arboretum that Kate planned and planted, as its centerpiece.

Tree Lady: The True story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, by H. Joseph Hopkins and Jill McElmurry
Katherine Sessions grew up in Northern California in the 1860s, a time when girls “weren’t supposed to get their hands dirty” or study science. But Sessions loved being outdoors and learning all about the majestic trees that surrounded her. She became the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science in 1881. Teaching was one of the few jobs available to women back then, and so Kate took a job teaching in San Diego, a town that lacked the trees she so loved in her childhood home. No one thought she could get trees to grow in the desert climate, but she researched trees from all over the world, and encouraged San Diegans to plant them until the town became the lush, green paradise that it is today, with Balboa Park, the arboretum that Kate planned and planted, as its centerpiece.

Baby Feminists

Baby Feminists

eBook $7.99

Baby Feminists

By Libby Babbott-Klein , Jessica Walker

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eBook $7.99

Baby Feminists, by Libby Babbott-Klein and Jessica Walker
If your toddler is already staging protests or your infant seems wise beyond her years, this is the book for your budding activist. Baby Feminists introduces the youngest activists to some great examples to live up to, from astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison to tennis star Billie Jean King. Kids will love lifting the flaps to reveal what Frida Kahlo and Malala Yousafzai looked like as babies. And it just might inspire them to finger paint their own protest signs.

Baby Feminists, by Libby Babbott-Klein and Jessica Walker
If your toddler is already staging protests or your infant seems wise beyond her years, this is the book for your budding activist. Baby Feminists introduces the youngest activists to some great examples to live up to, from astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison to tennis star Billie Jean King. Kids will love lifting the flaps to reveal what Frida Kahlo and Malala Yousafzai looked like as babies. And it just might inspire them to finger paint their own protest signs.

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Hardcover $17.99

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

By Vashti Harrison

In Stock Online

Hardcover $17.99

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the Worldby Vashti Harrison
The follow-up to her instant New York Times bestseller, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, this picture book will lift up your activist-in-training with forty stories of trailblazers from around the globe, including actress and inventor Hedy Lamar, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, architect Zaha Hadid, environmentalist Wangari Maathai and astronomer Vera Rubin. Bite-sized biographies inform and inspire, while Harrison’s signature art makes this book a beautiful one to curl up with at storytime. And the bold, global scope of the book will have your little ones dreaming big.

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the Worldby Vashti Harrison
The follow-up to her instant New York Times bestseller, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, this picture book will lift up your activist-in-training with forty stories of trailblazers from around the globe, including actress and inventor Hedy Lamar, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, architect Zaha Hadid, environmentalist Wangari Maathai and astronomer Vera Rubin. Bite-sized biographies inform and inspire, while Harrison’s signature art makes this book a beautiful one to curl up with at storytime. And the bold, global scope of the book will have your little ones dreaming big.