RESIST! Peaceful Acts that Changed Our World
Neal Porter Books
Published September 1, 2020
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About RESIST! Peaceful Acts that Changed Our World
From music to marches, from sit-ins to walk-outs, history’s activists have led by example until they could no longer be ignored.
Aspiring activists the world over will take inspiration from Resist!, a collection of 21 brief but comprehensive essays, accompanied by striking artwork and rich supplementary material by Diane Stanley, about men and women who have used peaceful resistance and non-violent protests to make their voices heard. Today, a new wave of activists is emerging, and their efforts are more urgent than ever.
Featured figures include: Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Woody Guthrie, Mohandas Gandhi, Irena Sendler, The Hollywood Ten, Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-in protestors, Martin Luther King, Jr., Larry Itliong, Doloras Huerta, Cesar Chavez, Richard Oakes, The Tree-Sitters of Pureora, Father Luis Olivares, Tank Man, Nelson Mandela, Ryan White, Ai Weiwei, the “It Gets Better” Project, The March For Our Lives protestors, and Greta Thunberg.
Diane Stanley, award-winning author and illustrator of many distinctive informational books for young people writes with passion and conviction of the world’s greatest activists, past and present, in this book which is as hopeful as it is inspiring.
I think the idea for this book is a really great one. I have a slightly similar book, meant for younger readers, called She Persisted, which briefly tells the story of 13 amazing women, so I was excited to read this book and hopefully add it to my library.
The selection of people and groups the book focuses on are really great. It covers a wide, diverse group of people, and I love that. Some of the people highlighted are obvious choices (Nelson Mandela and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for instance). But I enjoyed reading the stories of protesters I hadn’t heard of before (Father Luis Olivares and Ryan White for example), and finding that perhaps lesser known people I looked up to (like Irena Sendler and Greta Thunberg) also included.
On the other hand, I occasionally felt like the stories either soft-pedaled or sometimes ignored some important context or information about the people in focus. I realize this is for kids, and the biographies are short, so not everything can be mentioned, but it felt like there were a few times that certain things were left out or phrased a certain way that felt a bit misleading.
For instance, in the biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the things that isn’t acknowledged is the tension between the women’s movement and abolitionists and activists working to secure rights for Black men and women. Late in Stanton’s life, she partnered with an unabashed racist, traveling with him and allowing him to finance her platform. She is a hero in her fight for women’s suffrage, but I feel like it’s important to acknowledge that some of her actions alienated and potentially brought harm to others. (The book VOTE!: Women’s Fight for Access to the Ballot Box by Coral Celeste Frazer has great information about the fight for women’s suffrage and includes some great biographical information about critical voices in the movement as well as how the movement has progressed since then.)
I thought it was great that the book included the story about Richard Oakes and the occupation of Alcatraz, but I wish that the conclusion had been more specific. It says that the protest caused the US Government to issue policies more sensitive to indigenous needs and values, and I would have liked to see some examples of those more sensitive policies.
In the biography of Rosa Parks, the text says that she refused to give up her seat because she was tired. This actually isn’t true. Parks had been a lifelong activist, and in fact, in her biography, explains that the only thing she was tired of was the oppression of her people. (If you want to learn more, I recommend Rosa Parks’ autobiography, and this TedTalk by David Ikard.)
On the whole, I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I love the idea and the list of people featured in the book. I think it’s best enjoyed alongside other books that bring a more complete historical context and understanding of some of the people celebrated.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
This book presents biographies on a diverse group of people, from Gandhi to Rosa Parks, to Richard Oakes, to Ai Weiwei.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some of the biographies mention the faith of the person and how it motivated them.
Reference to violent response to peaceful protestors, including pouring soda on them, spitting on them, or using fire hoses and dogs. Often protesters were arrested.
Note: I received a free copy of RESIST! Peaceful Acts that Changed Our World in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.