Start Now! You Can Make a Difference

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
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Inspiring book cheers kids' efforts to make things better.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Scientific information about water, water treatment, air, germs, infectious diseases, vaccines, genes, lung health, heart health, cardiac arrest, CPR, nutrition, vitamins, fat and protein, iron and blood, climate change, hunger and malnutrition, calcium, bones, endangered animals. Also a chapter on friendship, bullying and cyberbullying, how to stand up to bullies, and the importance of showing people kindness and respect. 

Positive Messages

"You may not be old enough yet to vote or to volunteer -- but you are definitely the right age to raise your voice about important issues you care about, at home, in your school, in your community, and in our world." Every chapter has practical lists, titled "Start Now," of helpful things related to that chapter's topic that kids can do right away -- things as simple as writing to your elected officials to ask what they're doing about a particular issue or using a reusable bag whenever you go shopping. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Every chapter has examples of boys and girls taking action on an issue they care about, such as organizing fundraisers, saving tadpoles so they could grow into frogs that would reduce the local mosquito population, learning CPR, learning and then teaching other kids (through YouTube videos) how to cook healthy food, growing vegetables to donate to people in need -- all sorts of projects for their communities and the world. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chelsea Clinton's Start Now! You Can Make a Difference presents a number of global and local problems in simple, kid-friendly language and shows the projects that various kids have come up with to address those issues and make the world, their community, their school, or someone else's community a better place. There are lots of scientific facts about climate change, providing clean air and water, world hunger, healthy nutrition, endangered animals, and more. There's also a chapter on friendship, bullying, and cyberbullying that includes how to stand up to bullies and stresses the need to treat people with kindness and respect. 

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What's the story?

START NOW! YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE lays out a variety of issues that need attention, from climate change to world hunger to school bullying, and shows kids stepping up with their own creative ideas and energy to address them. It uses science to explain some of the problems, including the need for clean air and water and good nutrition, stopping contagious diseases, and the importance of protecting animals. It spotlights kids' efforts to make a difference in their communities and around the world, with photos of the kids involved. 

Is it any good?

This kid-friendly guide to becoming socially active is both inspirational and practical, offering tips on what you can do to make your community and the world a better place. Start Now! You Can Make a Difference speaks to kids at their level and avoids getting bogged down in statistics and policy discussions. Author Chelsea Clinton gives kids enough solid information for them to understand the issues and enough examples of kids taking action to leave readers feeling optimistic that they can help too. For example, she mentions a Missouri girl named Matti who organized a walk initially hoping to raise $100 to help build wells in Africa and Asia. Over the past five years, Matti has raised enough to build nine wells in seven countries.  

Simple cartoon drawings break up the text and help make the issues understandable. And pictures of real kids who took action make the notion of getting involved relatable and add to the inspiring, can-do tone. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kid-created projects in Start Now! You Can Make a Difference. Which ones do you find most inspiring? 

  • What could you do in your community or your school to make it a better place? Who could use your help? 

  • Can kids make a difference even though they don't vote? Have you been involved in any global or local projects? What did you do? What was fun about it? What was hard? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love social activism and environmental books

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