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It's Our World, Too!: Young People Who Are Making a Difference    by Phillip Hoose order for
It's Our World, Too!
by Phillip Hoose
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2002 (1993)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's Our World, Too! is all about young people who have made things happen - historically and in recent times. It explains how they did it, and how you can too. This book was originally published in 1993 and recently re-issued. Its author interviewed young people aged eight to seventeen, from different countries and with varied ethnic backgrounds. He found out what they had in common - they cared about others; were risk takers; didn't give up easily; and, while firm in their principles, were able to adapt their tactics. They also felt empowered by their youth, the time and energy at their disposal, and the 'power of being underestimated by adults.'

The first chapter, 'Young Activists Who Went Before You' gave me new insights into history. It begins with a fifteen-year-old apprentice barber who fought for American independence in 1779, continues with young conductors on the Underground Railroad, and moves on to young men and women who fought for Civil Rights in the 1960s. The fourteen modern examples are divided into: 'Taking a Stand', 'Reaching Out to Others', 'Healing the Earth', and 'Creating a Safer Future'. In the first category, young people risked their own safety to take stands against various forms of racism, against sexism and against gangs. They learned from it. John DeMarco, whose neighbors resented his testifying about their actions, now 'knows that when he was tested, he had the courage to do what was right.'

Those who reached out to others include Justin Lebo, who rebuilds bikes to give to kids without wheels, one of whom said in his hearing 'A bike is like a book; it opens up a whole new world.' Dwaina Brooks, who enlisted family and friends to feed the homeless, tells us that 'we owe it too: there isn't a one of us who hasn't been helped by someone.' Swedish elementary school children started a movement to buy, and hence preserve tracts of rain forest in Costa Rica, proving the Arab saying that 'Children are the wealth of the world.' And Joel Rubin of Maine took on the Heinz Company and won their agreement to only buy tuna caught in nets that do not trap dolphins.

Kids also work for world peace - in helping others who have been embroiled asChildren of War, in creating a support group of Kids Against Crime, and in building a Statue for Peace in Los Alamos, site of the development of the atomic bomb. And there are many more successes, reported in the news around the world, of young people making a big difference. Part 2 of the book, a 'Handbook for Young Activists', explains how to go about it. It includes advice on how to get started, samples such as letters and petitions, and tools for change. As one young activist, Caitlin Chestnut says 'I can't stand it when people say "I'm just one person; I can't make a difference" ... You have to say "I'm one person; maybe I can get others to join me."'

It's Our World, Too! deserves a wide circulation, which in itself might just make a difference in empowering young people and giving them tools to improve the prospects for their own futures. After all, it will be their world then.

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