Book Review: “A is for Activist”

MCFly writer Roisin Weintraub reviews a children’s book.

I stumbled across a whole genre of books accidentally when I found “A rule is to break, anarchism for children.” at a library local to my parents’ house.

I’m argumentative. I have been told I have opinions on everything, but I’m a strong believer in keeping my political, religious views to myself. I’ll tell, only if people ask.

As a result of this policy I don’t think my son knows I’m an anarchist. Or that the poverty (lack of new shiny plastic toys) he is forced to live under is in fact a multi-factorial life-style choice, not just me being mean. (though sometimes it does feel this way to both of us.)

Something leapt out at me “A is for activist.” The book is written by a guy called Innosanto Nagara, a graphic designer and activist and a parent. The book was published as a results of a kickstarter campaign.

I’m in the middle of teaching the boy, now 5, to read and one of the things we are working on is an alphabet book. I wanted him to consider different ideas something a bit more interesting than apples and zebras.

But my main reason for choosing to buy the book? The angry reviews on American Amazon complaining of brainwashing and the socialist direction the country is heading in! In short, I was curious. I had to wait for the book to be released in this country, and decided I had to not use Amazon to acquire it, after feeling a sinking sense of hypocriticism as I tried.

The first thing I would say about the book is the illustrations are beautiful. This is always my first consideration when buying literature for children as this is the part they are fully able to engage with while being read too.

The reviewers do raise a good point many of these concepts floated right on over Rueben’s head but I realized these ideas – feminism, true democracy and activists who spoke out on behalf of silent others – were things I wanted him to know about, and also things I saw no reason to keep from him. After all the world is full of ambient advertising, newspapers, shelves full of shiny plastic and shiny food all arguing the opposite. By staying silent I’m not being impartial, I’m staying out of it which is not brave, is not activism and is not the behavior I would like to see in my son when he becomes a man.

Do not feel that reading one, or a hundred books will make Rueben think anything. He will digest it and all the other influences on him. He will decide what he thinks in his own time. But I would argue that If I truly do believe in a better,different way, perhaps it is best to show him this, at least a little. After all it’s hard enough for adults to see justice in this world past all the talk of celebrity cellulite.

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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