I was recently contacted, quite out of the blue, with the opportunity to review Kids Make It Better by Suzy Becker. Initially I was hesitant, because I hadn’t heard of the book or the author or the publisher…but that quickly changed when I was informed that the publisher, Workman, is the publisher of the “What to Expect” series of books. That definitely rang a bell!
The book is a cool concept on a few different levels: it’s for kids and it gets them to think…and write… and draw. (The official press release type of info is at the end of the review.) The premise of the book is to present issues of the world to kids and discover their solutions. Politicians could learn a thing or two, as an aside.
But the true test comes from the kids. I’d asked for two copies to see, independently, how each of the two oldest would react. Surprisingly, they both loved the idea and decided to do one issue a day. It’s been a few days now, and they are still plugging along at them, but I was able to take a peek at a couple of examples. And I was impressed.
Sammy’s solution for the question “What would you do to help people stop fighting and get along?”: Negotiate until you have something both people can agree on. For an 8-yr old, that’s a darn good starting point.
Mika’s solution for the question “What do you think we can do to take better care of our water?”: Make a HUGE net and lower it down to the bottom of the sea. Then let out all of the fish, but discard the trash.
Not a bad concept for a 10-yr old.
What I find fascinating about the book is not just that it captured their attention, or that they want to work through it (which is always a good sign), but that it is a great glimpse into how their minds work. Content-wise, there is a great range of topics; they even cover what to do if you have to have surgery. This may seem unlikely but actually there are many conditions that are more common in children than in adults, which would require it, such as limb lengthening surgery. So really, this topic was very useful. The two I chose happened to be a couple of the first ones that they have completed. As you’ll see from the press release, there is a bit of a bent to it which I was initially concerned about…but I didn’t think it came across that way after going through it.
Overall, a great little book for the kiddos and their imaginations!
KIDS MAKE IT BETTER
A Write-In, Draw-In Journal
By Suzy Becker
Paperback :: Workman Publishing
NEW YORK (April 28, 2010): Ask a roomful of kids how to save the planet, and youll never come up short on answersor surprises. Thats how bestselling author, illustrator, educator, and activist Suzy Becker created KIDS MAKE IT BETTER, an imagination-spurring journal for children ages 6 to 10.
Becker went out and asked children their ideas about fixing problems both big and small. What to do about all the garbage? Heres Kristin, age 10: Have a law that says every person who litters has to pick it up and eat it. Cant argue with that!
The solutionsadorable, touching, sometimes downright inspiredare whimsically illustrated in Beckers trademark style. After each spread, budding change-makers are invited to take a crack at the problem themselves, with space for writing down possible solutions and a frame for drawing the best one. In the back of the journal, a Make It Better Action Plan helps young activists bring their solutions to life. Theyll learn how to write a mission statement. Theyll reach out to friends, teachers, parents, or organizations for help. Theyll even get a to-do list together.
A cure for shyness, the tin foil treatment for nail-biters, and an alien-friendly fix for the ozoneno problem too little, no solution too out there. Sidebars profile real-life kid activists and cases in which the featured solutions really worked. (There actually are fish that love to eat pollution.)
Yes, kids can!
About Suzy Becker
Suzy Becker is an author, artist, and entrepreneur, a former White House Fellow, and a winner of the Anti-Defamation Leagues A World of Difference award. She is also the founder of the bike-a-thon Ride FAR (Ride for AIDS Resources), which has raised over $1,000,000 for its cause. Her books include the #1 New York Times bestseller All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat, I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?, and My Dogs the World’s Best Dog. She lives with her family in Massachusetts .