A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Chronicles five activists whose movements for change were rooted in nonviolent protest. A section at the back has brief descriptions of "Other Notable Nonviolent Movements of the Last One Hundred Years": Denmarks' resistance against the Nazis in World War II; ACT UP, which helped force government action on AIDS; the campaigns to overturn apartheid in South Africa; the young activists of Otpor, which returned Serbia to democracy; Occupy Wall Street; and the Liberian women who ended their country's civil war.
In nonviolent activism, every person's voice (no matter how young they are) counts. By joining together, the weak and the oppressed can become an unstoppable force for change.
Positive Role Models
The most powerful young role models in the book are the thousands of students (from age 6 to seniors in high school) who bravely marched in the "Children's Crusade" in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. They were attacked by police dogs and assaulted by fire hoses so strong they could rip the bark off trees 100 feet away. National news coverage of their bravery helped change forever how Americans viewed the civil rights struggle in the South.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is a constant throughout the book, but nothing is really graphic other than describing the brutal force-feeding women prisoners on hunger strikes. Those women are also threatened with being sent to insane asylums and beaten and choked by guards. Police grab suffragettes by the throat and throw them to the ground. The homes of civil rights leaders in the South are bombed. News photos in the book show young marchers being attacked by police dogs and assaulted with fire hoses. The police allow KKK members (with bats, iron pipes, and chains) to beat Freedom Riders. Four young girls are killed when a church is bombed. Striking farm workers are beaten, attacked by dogs, and sprayed with pesticide.
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In one instance, a person on the phone calls Martin Luther King Jr. the "N" word.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Todd Hasak-Lowy's We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World profiles five leaders of nonviolent resistance movements. While some may be familiar names (Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg), the stories of others (suffragette Alice Paul; Cesar Chavez, who organized American farmworkers; and Vaclav Havel, the playwright and dissident who led Czechoslovakia's "Velvet Revolution") may be new to many readers. Not simply short biographies or quick overviews of a movement's history, the book looks deeply at the reasons each of them came to embrace nonviolence. The nonviolent demonstrators in the book are constantly met with a brutal response from law enforcement and local residents. Homes and churches are bombed. Adults and even children are beaten, attacked by police dogs, sprayed with pesticide, and assaulted with fire hoses.
Is It Any Good?
For many readers, this chronicle of nonviolent protest will turn their view of history upside down, as it details history in which the seemingly weak and powerless are the victors. We Are Power never talks down to readers, even when explaining something as challenging as satyagraha (translated from Sanskrit as "truth force or soul force"), the term Gandhi used to describe his form of nonviolent resistance. Archival black and white photos (although very few in number) illustrate some of the pivotal moments in the book: the Silent Sentinels outside the White House, children being assaulted by fire hoses in Birmingham, a farm workers protest march, a massive crowd of strikers in Czechoslovakia, Gandhi illegally making salt, and Greta Thunberg marching for climate change.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.