For Parents


 Several new books have come out featuring young people working for change in their communities and the world. Child leaders have emerged in almost every activist movement today. Though too young to vote, they organize, draw public attention to issues, and often can get laws and policy changed. The causes they champion directly impact the quality of their future lives. These include water rights, human rights, and especially climate change.
Here are some of the  books designed to inform and encourage young readers who want to make a difference. .
The Climate Book (2023) is by 19-year-old Greta Thunberg,  an internationally known and respected leader in the movement to combat climate change. This has been her focus ever since she demonstrated outside the Swedish parliament with a hand-made sign at age 15. In this book, she outlines the urgent need for accurate information and effective , and she provides both. She calls on the wisdom and knowledge of hundreds of scientists, indigenous leaders, historians, engineers, and mathematicians. Her book includes graphs and illustrations, and suggests paths for real step-by-step change. Also see Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini (2019)

We Have a Dream: Meet 30 Young Indigenous People and People of Color Protecting the Planet (2022) is by Mya-Rose Craig.” Mya-Rose,    British Bangladeshi ornithologist who was awarded an honorary science degree from Bristol University at age 17. She has created “Black to Nature” camps to encourage indigenous people and people of color to fight for equal rights and environmental protection, since they are the most affected. This book profiles thirty young people around the world, including the US, who are already taking action.

Also see Young Native Activist: Growing Up in Native American Rights Movements  by Aslan Tudo. Alsn is  a 13 year old member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. When he was 8 and again at 11, Aslan went to South Dakota to join the protests of Lakota Sioux against construction of a oil pipeline at Standing Rock. In this book, he describes native American causes in which he continues to be active.

In Movement Makers: How Young Activists Upended the Politics of Climate change (2022), author Nicke Englefried interviews over 100 youth leaders.  She  tells the background story of how youth climate campaigns have drawn attention, changed the national discussion, and become a mass movement.

Saving Animals: A Future Activist’s Guide (2021), is by Catherine Kelaher, founder of New South Wales’ Hen Rescue.  Her organization  rehomes chickens and other animals from factory farms. This well-researched guide is full of  ideas about how to protect and make the world a better place for pets, farm animals & wildlife . It includes stories of empathetic young people who are doing just that.

Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement (2018), is by the founders of March For Our Lives. On Valentine’s Day in 2018, a mass-shooter killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Surviving students channeled their grief and anger into a youth movement to end gun violence.  The students of the movement provide a blueprint, showing how they took action in rallies, on social media, in voter registration drives, and with a march on Washington.

Tomorrow Begins Now: Teen Heroes Who Faced Down Injustice (2022) is by Ava Lorelei Deakin. It features stories, ranging from the 1950s to today, of 11 teens fighting for their civil rights and liberties. Their  issues include school segregation, sports equality, censorship, unjust deportation, and others.

Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World (2018) is  by Eric David Dawson, who at age 18 founded a non-profit called Peace First.  Peace first is  based on the idea that young people can change the world now. Putting Peace First is his handbook for would-be peacemakers, with step-by-step explanations of how peacemakers have achieved their goals

Cover Reveal: A Horse Named Sky

I’ve been hard at work on a new animal-narrated MG novel. It’s a companion book to A Wolf Called Wander and A Whale of the Wild. I’m thrilled to be working with the team at Greenwillow once again. And I’m even more excited to be paired with the brilliant illustrator Kirbi Fagin. Here is her gorgeous art work on the cover for A Horse Named cover A Horse Named Sky

Sky will be galloping into young hearts and minds on September 5th 2023. I will be signing and personalizing pre-orders at Annie Blooms Books in Portland. But you can pre-order it at your neighborhood bookstore too.

A Horse Named Sky is the story of a mustang born in the Nevada wilderness who never wanted to leave home and never meant to become a leader, but learned how to find his way and fight for a family so much bigger than his own. The story is set in 1860, when our nation, like this young horse, was grappling with what it means to be free.

Hitting a novel home run in 2023 by making a difference

By Faran Fagen

Like you, I’ve got a full lineup of goals for 2023. The new year offers a time to look at what’s most important.

My most pressing concrete goals are a home run revision that grabs the reader (my writing world), and to meet my financial goals (personal world).

But my general goal is to make a difference on all fronts. If I tackle each goal with the idea of making a difference, thinking of others, good things tend to happen.

In that spirit, here’s my top 10 list of writing goals for 2023:

  1. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page.
  2. Give the reader just enough detail so they’re dying to know what comes next.
  3. Choose a setting that adds to suspense and advances the story.
  4. Immerse myself in the main character so the reader feels like they’re experiencing the story through their five senses (think “Avatar”)
  5. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page.
  6. Each scene has urgency for the characters to reach their goals (or not).
  7. Conflict. Every scene filled with conflict. Conflict between characters. Inner conflict. Think all the “Rocky” movies.
  8. Transformation. How do the characters change? What do they learn? How do we journey through their transformation?
  9. In revision, know what to take out and what to leave in. I know this one’s easier said than done. A mentor once told me to defend each word like a lawyer defends each client.
  10. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page. Keep the reader turning the page.

In the end, it’s about writing a book that makes a difference. Didn’t I say that somewhere?

Here’s some goals from some of the children’s book writers/agents who’ve had a huge influence on me:

Author/illustrator Fred Koehler:

  1. WORD COUNT:I’m keeping it simple without any sort of overall word count resolution–just a single manuscript to revise, however many words it takes. For 2023 it’s a middle grade treasure mystery where editors LOVED the first half but thought the ending was too over-the-top. Keep what they loved. Slash and burn the rest.
  2. REJECTION:Rejection is a great measurement of how close you are to success. (Here’s my thesis on Rejection.) My resolution for 2023 is 50 rejections. Between a graphic novel already out on sub and several picture manuscripts at various stages, I should be able to achieve that no problem.
  3. COMMUNITY:Through my work with fellow writers at Ready Chapter 1, various critique groups, and other awesome communities like this one, my resolution is to help create the ‘aha’ moment or make the connection for ONE writer to land their first book deal. This will be more meaningful to me than anything I achieve for myself.

Aurora Dominguez, award-winning teacher and aspiring YA novelist:

  1. Finish the draft of my first YA novel
  2. Write for fun more, not just for freelance journalism purposes! *more for fun
  3. Take the time to write meaningful and purposeful, as well as uplifting messages, to loved ones and colleagues.

Jonathan Rosen, agent, The Seymour Agency:

  1. Make time to write. Period.
  2. Stretch outside my comfort zone to write in new genres
  3. Write what I like and let it find an audience

Author Marjetta Geerling:

  1. Finish writing book 1 of a new series.
  2. Remember writing is fun!
  3. Stop stressing about social media.

Joyce Sweeney, agent, The Seymour Agency:

  1. Do not keep scheduling meetings on writing day!
    2. Remember that every client is an individual and needs individual strategy, attention and care
    3. Always be kind, especially to beginning authors who query.

Hope you reach your goals for 2023!!