Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words (Karen Leggett Abouraya)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words, written by Karen Leggett Abouraya and illustrated by L. C. Wheatley, a biography of the Nobel Prize-winning activist.

On her sixteenth birthday, dressed in her favorite color (pink), Malala Yousafzai stood in front of an assembly of children, journalists, and members of the United Nations and gave a speech about every child’s basic right to education. Malala had survived much to be there. She had grown up in a loving family in Pakistan who had encouraged her love of learning. When the Taliban took over her town and decreed that girls could no longer go to school, she would not agree. She continued to attend school in secret, even writing for the BBC about her experiences under Taliban rule. She gave speeches and wrote articles about every child’s right to education, girl or boy. Her words of equality and peace threatened the terrorists so much that they tried to assassinate her, but Malala survived, and vowed that the experience only made her conviction to fight for the rights of children and women stronger. She continues her fight to this day, using her words as weapons against hate and discrimination.

If you are a regular follower of ours, you know we love stories about brave girls, especially if they’re true! And Malala is a personal hero, so it’s going to be hard to not like any book that introduces her incredible journey to little ones. And while I’m a bit more partial to For The Right To Learn by Rebecca Langston-George due to its breathtaking art, Warrior With Words also does a fantastic job of this. The cut-paper art is surprisingly detailed, abstract yet filled with emotion and depth. The length is actually better for younger bookworms, and the incident of Malala’s attempted assassination is dealt with in slightly less detail, but no less impact. Overall, this is a very well-done biography that would be great for inspiring smaller bookworms with a true story of a remarkable girl. Baby Bookworm approved!

When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc And The Creation Of Hip Hop (Laban Carrick Hill)

Hello, everyone! Today’s book is When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc And The Creation Of Hip Hop, written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, an awesome tale of a revolutionary musical innovator and his contribution to the birth of hip hop.

Clive Campbell loved music of every kind, and growing up in Jamaica, there was no music scene hotter than the block parties hosted by the local dancehall DJs. When Clive moved to New York City, he brought his love of music and DJing with him. After earning the nickname Kool Herc on the basketball court, Clive and his sister Cindy threw a back-to-school party one summer night at their apartment building on Sedgewick Ave. Clive set up his audio system, stepped up to the turntables, and unleashed his signature style of mixing and rapping on the crowd. And just like that, DJ Kool Herc was born, and he would go on help create an entire genre of music: hip hop.

This was an awesome book! Music history fans will love how the story of this seminal era of musical experimentation is told. For those unfamiliar with the origins of hip hop, this is an awesome primer for all ages that introduces the figures, styles and theory that brought hip hop to be. The illustrations are colorful, lively, and have a distinctly musical feeling about them, which is perfect. The length may be a bit much for the smallest bookworms, but JJ enjoyed it start to finish. This is a great one, especially for young DJs and MCs looking to learn more about the roots of hip hop and the people who brought it to life. Baby Bookworm approved!

For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story (Rebecca Langston-George)

Hello, friends! In honor of International Women’s Day, our book today is For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, written by Rebecca Langston-George and illustrated by Janna Bock, the story of the courage and determination of the youngest Nobel Prize winner to fight for the right to education.

Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan, in a once beautiful and peaceful mountain town, to loving parents who encouraged learning. Her father ran a local school, and did everything he could to provide education to any boy or girl who sought it. But when the Taliban took over her town, Malala saw the rights and freedoms of her and her fellow girls begin to disappear as they were banned from school and threatened with violence. Unwilling to give up her rights, Malala spoke out against this injustice, risking her life to continue her studies. Despite threats, obstacles, and even an attempt on her life, Malala continues her fight to this day.

Malala is a powerful figure as a relentless yet peaceful advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and kids can identify strongly to her, so this biography is a fantastic way to introduce her story to young readers. The illustrations are sweeping and emotional, and the text is perfect, focusing on Malala’s activism through adversity rather than the assassination attempt she survived (an event which made her famous, but is hardly her most significant accomplishment). Both the text and the art handle the event subtly yet poignantly; still, the subject matter should be considered before choosing this one. The length is also a bit much for baby bookworms (even JJ), but older kids could handle this one easily. Overall, it is a beautiful and moving true story of a remarkable young woman. Baby Bookworm approved!

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark (Debbie Levy)

Hello, friends! Today, we read a fantastic book called I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, a picture book biography of an amazing feminist icon.

Ruth Bader is born into a world that discriminates against her gender and religion, but she refuses to accept the limitations society places on women and Jewish people. Whenever Ruth is faced with an obstacle – she objects! Disagrees! Dissents! She educates herself, puts herself through college and law school, and fights for the rights of all people who are marginalized by sexism, racism, anti-semitism, and all other forms of prejudice. She works hard her whole life, and is declared a Supreme Court justice.

This was an awesome biography of a phenomenal woman. I Dissent is packed full of information, not only about Bader Ginsburg’s life but also the history of segregation in America, what lawyers do and how the Supreme Court works, and the importance of gender equality. There are wonderful lessons to be found everywhere: Bader Ginsburg’s ability to disagree with people yet still maintain friendships with them, the importance of finding a mate who supports your ideas and goals, and that failure is a normal, natural part of life – and can be overcome. Now, this one was pretty long for baby bookworms (this would likely be best for slightly older readers), but the gorgeous, colorful illustrations held JJ’s attention through the whole book. So if you have a patient baby bookworm, you could probably get away with this one. Overall, a fantastic book about a true hero that every boy and girl can enjoy. Baby Bookworm approved!

On Our Way To Oyster Bay: Mother Jones And Her March For Children’s Rights (Monica Kulling)

Hello, friends! Today, we read On Our Way To Oyster Bay: Mother Jones And Her March For Children’s Rights, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Felicita Sala, a biographical picture book about Mary Harris Jones, a children’s and workers’ rights activist at the turn of the century (JJ and I were fortunate enough to win this book in a giveaway by GoodReads!). 

Aidan and Gussie are both child workers at the cotton mill, and they decide to join their fellow strikers to improve work conditions. They are excited, because famed activist Mother Jones is coming to join their campaign, but they are surprised to find that Mother Jones is a little old lady! However, as she organizes a protest march from Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York, they soon find that Mother Jones is a passionate force for the rights of others.

This was a very interesting book! There were a lot of elements here that worked very well: as a biography, it gave the reader a good sense of Mother Jones and what she was like, both her kindness towards the children she was fighting for and the ferver of her belief in her cause. It’s also a great look at what life was like in th 1900’s, especially for children (the description of child labor is striking enough to make an impact on young readers, yet not so graphic as to be frightening). Lastly, it imparts a message of fighting for one’s beliefs, even in the face of difficulty or opposition. The illustrations are colorful and lively, and bring the time period and characters to life.

One point: this one is definitely too long for baby bookworms of JJ’s age, as she barely made it through without losing interest. However, this is a fantastic book that would be great for older readers, and I’m happy that it’s part of our library so that JJ can enjoy it again as she gets older! Baby Bookworm approved!