Inspiring, relatable, and totally true biographies tell the childhood stories of a diverse group of trailblazers including Kamala Harris, Greta Thunberg, Ai Weiwei, Benazir Bhutto, Elliot Page, and John Lewis, along with 10 other powerful figures.
Featuring kid-friendly text and full-color illustrations, Kid Trailblazers highlights contemporary figures who have led the way in government, social activism, environmental justice, and the arts. Middle-grade readers will learn how these figures got their start as kids just like them, with impactful stories and fun facts such as:
• Angela Merkel once won a trip to Moscow, where she bought a Beatles album.
• Stacey Abrams and her siblings played pretend as librarians for fun.
• Al Gore lived in a hotel as a kid and liked to drop water balloons off the roof!
Kid Trailblazers explores the childhood stories of leaders who have taken on the most pressing issues of our time by expressing themselves and challenging the world.
About the authors
Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.
Excerpt: Kid Trailblazers: True Tales of Childhood from Changemakers and Leaders (by (author) Robin Stevenson; illustrated by Allison Steinfeld)
Do you ever look around and see things you want to change? Are you the kind of person who likes to take the lead? Do you dream of a world where people are truly free and equal, where our planet is protected, and where everyone’s voice can be heard?
Maybe you will be a trailblazer! Our world is always evolving, and many changes are driven by people like you: people who want to make a difference and are willing to lead the way and blaze new trails.
Some trailblazers are politicians, working to help our governments do a better job of representing all the people they serve. Others are activists, leading social movements, fighting for human rights, or taking a stand for environmental justice. And some are artists, writers, actors, filmmakers, or poets. They use their art and their words to challenge established ideas, to make people think, and to raise awareness of issues they are passionate about.
Trailblazers organize protests, hold meetings, run for office, raise money, and go on strike. They influence people through social media, write books, and create television shows. They send letters, take photographs, share their poems, and demonstrate in the streets. There are many ways to lead the way, influence people, and make change!
Throughout history, courageous people have stepped up to tackle big problems, and our world today is a better place because of their efforts. There is still lots of work to do, but luckily there are also lots of great role models to learn from. Today’s trailblazers stand on the shoulders of those who came before them and are leading the way for those who come after them. And whether they are government leaders, activists, or artists, they all have one thing in common: they started out as kids.
Before she wrote television shows, Shonda Rhimes acted out stories with cans of vegetables in her mom’s pantry. And civil rights activist and US congressman John Lewis was once a little boy who preached sermons to his family’s chickens.
But for many of the trailblazers in this book, childhood was not a carefree time. Some lacked even the most basic of freedoms.
Scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki spent his childhood in an internment camp, imprisoned by the Canadian government along with thousands of other Japanese Canadians. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei grew up in exile, living in an underground dugout at the edge of China’s Gobi Desert.
Being a trailblazer takes confidence; you have to be able to stand up for yourself in the face of opposition. So it helps to have people who believe in you. Stacey Abrams’s father always told her to fight for what she wanted. Kamala Harris had a mother who raised her to believe she could grow up to do anything.
And of course, you don’t have to wait until you are grown up to make change! Greta Thunberg was just fifteen when she started her school strike for the climate.
At twelve years old, Marley Dias began her campaign to collect and donate a thousand books about Black girls. And Mari Copeny was only eight when she made national headlines in the United States by writing to President Barack Obama about the lack of safe water in her community.
Without the trailblazers in this book, our world would be a very different place. Their paths weren’t always easy, but they persevered, overcoming all kinds of obstacles to achieve their goals. I hope their stories will inspire you to follow your own dreams and stand up for what you believe . . . and to change the world for the better!
“Kid Trailblazers highlight[s] a diverse array of many lesser-known leaders around the world who have paved the way for innovation and change...An important nonfiction collection of stories about influencers and leaders when they were children.”—School Library Journal, starred review
“Inspiring examples for younger would-be world-changers.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This book helps young leaders-to-be get excited about fixing problems they spot, and they may meet some new heroes, too. For your biography-finding this school year, Kid Trailblazers is the easy solution.”—Terri Schlichenmeyer, Bookworm Sez
“Stevenson sketches her subjects’ childhoods and later impact, deftly setting the scene for each one and providing informative details, engaging quotes, and sometimes humorous anecdotes.”—Mombian
Praise for the Kid Legends series:
“Telling the true stories of famous people’s childhoods, this book inspires kids to think big and humanizes historical figures in a new and fresh way.”—CNN Underscored, on Kid Innovators by Robin Stevenson
“These reads aren’t just educational, they’re inspiring – they remind us all that we’re never too young to start dreaming! Plus – they’re a great resource for school projects!”—YAYOMG.com, on Kid Innovators by Robin Stevenson
“Kids will be drawn in.”—Chicago Parent, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson
“The vivid details of each activist's story, combined with vibrant illustrations, demonstrate that every civil rights hero and popular firebrand started out as children, just like the rest of us.”—School Library Journal, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson
“A great way to encourage kids who already love science to pursue their interests as well as to show kids who are not motivated by traditional schooling that there are many paths to greatness.”—American Scientist Magazine, on Kid Scientists by David Stabler
“Illustrate[s] a wide variety of early influences and backgrounds, proving to kids that where they come from isn't important when fixing something that is.”—Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson
“Outstanding... Inspiring and entertaining.”—Booklist, starred review, on Kid Athletes by David Stabler
“A heartening reminder that 17 unconventional greats—not to mention all the rest—started out as children too.”—Kirkus Reviews, on Kid Artists by David Stabler
“Just like history class, only hilarious.”—Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, on Kid Presidents by David Stabler
“Full of real information, but the author made it fun and funny.”—Michael, age 9, on Kid Authors by David Stabler