activism,  books,  politics

A is for Activist

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I found a neat book for children of activists! It is called A is for Activist and it is by Innosanto Nagara. While the book is a baby board book it held more interest for my six year old than my three year old, as he could relate to the abundance of poster-carrying protesters. Each letter is tied in with at least one activist-related word, including those normally hard to use letters: V is for Vox Populi, the voice of the people, X is for Malcolm X and Z is for Zapatistas.A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

There’s lots of room for discussion of concepts that don’t always come up in every day life, like what it mean for something to be grassroots, and why the page about solar power also mentions “sucking on dinosaur sludge.” There are great pictures of people protesting. I liked that on “H is for Health food-a Human right.” It goes on to list a variety of foods including “healthy hot dogs” and pizza, so it isn’t quite the food-purist that some activists I’ve met sound like. The same page includes a picture of a mother nursing her baby but there’s no text to ridicule the parents who formula feed. There is a cat to find on every page, and a good diversity of people illustrated.

I do feel like some of the pages jam too many things together. The page for the letter I combines talk about indigenous people and immigrants with the labour union slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

The verse for T goes:

T is for Trans.
For Trains, Tiaras,
Tulips, Tractors,
and Tigers Too!

Trust in The True
The he she They That is you!

The illustration for the picture shows a butterfly flying over a ying-yang symbol colored pink and blue, and I suspect that the list of t-words (trains, tiaras, tulips, tractors, tigers) is meant to reference to gender stereotypical toys and interests with the butterfly a symbol of transformation. I know that the issue of transgenderism is one where I disagree with many of my fellow activists, (as I take a more radical feminist approach, believing we should eliminate gender roles rather than continue to promote the idea that if you like things we associate with the opposite gender you should transition to that gender) but I didn’t it hard to skim past this page with the kids seeing the list as just happy t-words rather than get into the discussion on gender.

I think my favorite verse is the entry for K:

Kings are fine for storytime.
Knights are fun to play.
But when we make decisions
we will choose the people’s way!

Check out the book’s website at

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  • Julie Grasso

    Wow, what a truly unique book. The verses you have shared are just wonderful. I have heard over and over that teachers are using board books in classrooms for children as old as 8. This does sound like it has great potential to challenge young readers and give them simple but extremely important concepts to contemplate. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  • Colleen

    Great review. I loved this book too! Did you know they have it at the Sudbury Public library? That’s where I found it, facing out on a display. Now I know what to give all my politically active mom friends for Christmas 🙂

  • Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

    Wow! This is quite the gem. You can’t just read this one and say, ok, “Time for bed”. This little book seems like catalyst for more discussion (one concept at a time!) And, don’t even get me started on gender roles! lol Ok, wait, I do have one thing to say. Isn’t it a matter of semantics? For example, according to my understanding, transgenderism is about someone being born a particular sex but identifying more with the other sex? Isn’t that something the oeople in question decide? What you are saying with regards to the elimination of gender roles (which I agree with) seems to be a different thing – not transgenderism. So instead, it’s more like a post-genderism approach? That seems more like a structural/systemic issue rather than a community one (i.e., the transgender community). I don’t know … it’s been a few years since my head has been into this! Thanks for linking this unique book into the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

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