Friday, September 19, 2014

Be a Changemaker review and interview with author Laurie Ann Thompson

Goodreads Summary:
We've had the civil rights movement and the women's movement—now it's time for the youth movement.

When Divine Bradley was seventeen, he just wanted a safe place to hang out away from gangs and violence, and Team Revolution was born. At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not allowed to attend school, and Richard's Rwanda took shape. During his sophomore year of high school, Zach Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Gone are the days when kids were supposed to be "seen and not heard." Today, youth everywhere are rising up, building new organizations, and creating the changes they want to see in their communities and around the world. Be a Changemaker gives readers the tools and confidence they need to affect real change. Readers will learn how to:

- Research ideas
- Build a strong and passionate team
- Create a business plan
- Enlist a savvy adult
- Plan events
- Work with the media
- And more!

Plus, profiles of youth-led social organizations show readers that it's never too early to become a changemaker.

Be a Changemaker reminds me of a teenage version of a graduate class I took at Eastern Michigan University called Public Policy and Public Writing. The idea of the class, as well as this book is, how do we use our voices and our passions to make real change. The focus of the class was on education, but the tools we were given could apply to almost any area where a person wants to make a difference and that's exactly what this book is trying to do.

Peppered with personal stories of kids who have made a difference as well as practical advice for how to make your vision come to life, Be a Changemaker is a great addition to any middle or high school classroom and the perfect hand sell to the vocal leaders and change agents you see in your own classrooms. 

Interview with Laurie Ann Thompson:

Foodie Bibliophile: What prompted you to see the potential for kids to be changemakers?

Laurie Ann Thompson: Rather than being apathetic and/or self-absorbed, as they’re typically portrayed in the media, most of the teenagers I’ve known have been passionate, idealistic, and very aware of the problems around them or around the world. Also, most kids don’t have the adult pressures of supporting and caring for a family, but, far from being lazy, these kids are often successfully juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, social activities, and more. As they struggle to find their places in their communities and in the world, they really do want to have an impact and to make their voices heard. I think if you direct their passion and idealism at a problem they care about and combine it with the real knowledge and skills today’s kids have, there is no telling what they can achieve. One of the greatest advantages of inexperience is not knowing what “can’t” be done, so very often a young person will just go out and do what an adult wouldn’t have even thought possible! 

FB: Were you a changemaker as a kid?

LAT: No, not really, but I desperately wanted to be. I saw problems that broke my heart and causes I wanted to contribute to. I donated most of my birthday money and allowance and volunteered where I could, but I couldn’t wait to “grow up” so that I could go out and do something more meaningful. I wish someone had told me then that I didn’t need to wait! Of course, a lot has changed since then, too. Today’s kids are able to do so much more than we could then. Knowledge is literally at their fingertips 24 hours a day, and they can join forces with like-minded individuals from around the world at the click of a button. Technology has given them the tools to easily accomplish things that would have been difficult even for adults to do when I was a kid. And these kids have grown up with it; it’s just how they think. This generation of “digital natives” is so much more empowered than any who went before them were. 

FB: What advice do you have for parents and teachers of kids who want to make a difference?

LAT: Let them! Watch that they aren’t taking any unacceptable risks, of course, but don’t be afraid to let them fail. The more mistakes we make, the more we learn, and the more we try, the more we find out what we’re actually capable of. The earlier kids realize that, the better off they will be for their whole lives. So, even if their idea seems far-fetched or unlikely to succeed, don’t discourage them from trying. On the other hand, don’t just take over and do it for them, either! Make sure they are safe, but beyond that let them find their own way as much as possible. They might just surprise you… and themselves! 

FB: What would you say to a person who still believes “kids should be seen and not heard?”

LAT: I’d say, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!” I LOVE listening to kids. They have fresh ideas, amazing insights, and great senses of humor. And, they’re dying to be heard! Give them a chance, and prepare to have your mind blown. As I said above, today’s kids have access to such powerful tools and can do so much more than we expect… if they’re only given the chance. Why count them out without even listening to what they have to say first? 

FB: On your website, you say, “Sometimes, getting lost in a good book can be just the thing we need to finally find ourselves.” What are your favorite books to get lost in?

LAT: Well, this is a little embarrassing since I mostly write nonfiction, but my absolutely favorite books to get lost in are fantasy! Imaginary creatures, twisted reality, magic… I guess a little escapism never hurt anyone, right? :)

Laurie Ann Thompson comes from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners. She has worked at IBM, Intel, and Microsoft, and she co-founded a successful internet startup. In addition, she has led a regional nonprofit professional organization and volunteered with Ashoka’s Youth Venture, which supports teens with big ideas. This is her first book. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her at
Follow all of the stops on Laurie's blog tour!

Mon, Sept 8
Sally's Bookshelf
Tues, Sept 9
Girl Scout Leader 101
Wed, Sept 10
Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Sept 11
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Fri, Sept 12
The Nonfiction Detectives AND Kirby's Lane
Sat, Sept 13
The Styling Librarian
Mon, Sept 15
NC Teacher Stuff
Tues, Sept 16
The Hiding Spot
Wed, Sept 17
Kid Lit Frenzy
Thurs, Sept 18
Fri, Sept 19
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
Sat. Sept 20
Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 256
Genre: Nonfiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: ARC received for review

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound.   

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