By Anne Jankeliowitch with photos by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Ages 8 to 12. 123 pages.
You probably have heard of Malala Yousafzai, the champion for girls education who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month. The 17-year-old Pakistani girl serves as proof that kids can make a difference well beyond their school, city or country.
Malala may be the most talked-about young activist, but many other kids have tackled large problems. The recently published book “Kids Who Are Changing the World” finds 45 of these kids or young adults, many of whom started their work when they were in elementary school.
There’s Olivia Bouler from Islip, New York. At age 11, Olivia saw the effects of an oil spill while she was vacationing in Alabama along the Gulf of Mexico. She was concerned about how the oil would harm birds in the area. She turned that concern into action and began painting watercolors of birds and selling them to raise money to rescue birds in the gulf. Word spread about the project, and in a year Olivia had raised $200,000. Olivia, who has since written and illustrated a picture book, says, “If I was able to do something, so can anyone.”
Felix Finkbeiner was even younger when he learned that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, were contributing to climate change. The 9-year-old from Germany found out that trees could help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He wondered if kids in every country could plant trees to help Earth. He started with one tree at school and then launched a Web site to spread the word. Soon he was speaking to groups of kids and urging them to join his Plant for the Planet project. Within three years, those kids had planted 4 million trees. Felix, now 15, plans to “create the first global political party, which will exist in every country of the world and will act together to create change.”
Other kid activists mentioned in the book have recycled computers, saved wetlands and raised money for clean drinking water. They share their biggest accomplishments and what role their parents played in their success. A few reveal their biggest mistakes and how they learned from them. And all offer a few words of encouragement. As Felix said, “A mosquito can’t do anything to a rhinoceros, but a thousand mosquitoes can force a rhino to change direction.”