We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices Book Poster Image
Inspiring advice from diverse authors and illustrators.

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

Educational Value

The 1960s civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the bombing of Birmingham church in 1963, the Vietnam War, Jim Crow, the traditional song "The Gospel Train." Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Emmett Till, Claudette Colvin, Malala Yousafzai, Anne Frank. Also ICE, the Cherokee language and syllabary, and conventions of poetry -- line breaks, metaphor, etc.

Positive Messages

Brims with positive messages: Be kind. Be mindful. You matter. You belong here. You're loved and treasured. Dark brown skin is beautiful. Muslims helped build our country. "Islam is rooted in love, discipline, and striving to be a good person." Small acts matter. Importance of the Golden Rule. Be of service. Reject ignorance. Others before us have lived in tumultuous times and traveled difficult paths. The actions of people during the civil rights movement led to important gains.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong, positive role models from many cultures: African American, Korean American, Cherokee, Pakistani American Muslim, Cuban American.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices is an anthology of illustrated poems, letters, essays, stories, and even a song by a diverse roster of prominent authors and illustrators. It's edited by Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson, experienced multicultural publishers, who put the book together to provide kids from vulnerable communities guidance and reassurance during times that might feel uncertain or unsafe. The carefully paired text and art were created by a host of award winners, such as Kwame Alexander, Margarita Engle, James Ransome, and Rita Williams-Garcia, who share their experience and hope. If kids have worries or concerns about how to navigate troubled waters, this book throws them a literary life raft.

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What's the story?

WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES is a compilation of 30 pieces created by authors and illustrators of different backgrounds, each offering advice, guidance, and reassurance for kids living in turbulent times.

Is it any good?

This encouraging treasury of pieces by diverse writers and illustrators offers concrete advice to kids living in difficult times. Some of the pieces in We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices focus on very specific issues. Eleanora E. Tate talks about having dark brown skin, and how to rise above people who belittle you. Hena Khan discusses what to do if you're Muslim and people call you a terrorist. One story's narrated by a kid whose father is seized and deported by ICE. Some writers tie events today to historical ones, like slavery or Jim Crow laws, making the point that troubling times have long existed, and others have found ways to resist and usher in positive change.

Some of the most effective pieces address kids directly, as if writer and reader are in cozy conversation. Sharon G. Flake writes a letter to kids and signs it, "Your fan and cheerleader." Tonya Bolden urges kids to make small, manageable changes, like "compliment someone on an outfit or hairdo, congratulate a friend on a victory," acts that are easily within a kid's grasp. The message to readers is that they're not alone; the book connects them to larger communities, to elders with experience and good counsel. And it offers hope. As poet Marilyn Nelson tells kids, "Today's acts of good will change tomorrow ... good is in control, and good will win."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the advice in We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. Do any of the pieces address issues you've been worried about? What advice or observations do you think might be most helpful?

  • Have you ever read a book before that has separate contributions by different authors and illustrators? Did you read the pieces in order, or did you dip into different parts that struck you as interesting? Do you think you'll go back and read any again?

  • If you had the opportunity to give advice and support to others, what would you want to tell them? Can you write a letter or poem or story that might help or inspire others?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of trailblazers and the struggle for social justice

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