How do I talk to my kids about activism?
This interview is from A Kids Book About: The Podcast, with host Matthew Winner and author of A Little Book About Activism, Courtney Ahn. It has been lightly edited for clarity.
What is activism?
To me, activism is a lot like problem solving in our communities. Identifying when something isn't right, intentionally or unintentionally, and taking the necessary steps to fix it for everyone's benefit. I think it's helpful to think of activism like a verb instead of a noun. It requires action. And the way we think about it is always growing and changing.
I'm so glad to be talking to you on the podcast. I'm so glad that our listeners get to hear you. And I also get to share some love for A Little Book About Activism. It's a gorgeous book. It's so beautifully written. I'm so grateful that you're here. Why don't we get into speaking of pictures, but also actions. Courn, what can activism look like?
Activism can look like so many things. It can look like starting a petition in your school for gender neutral clothing policies. It can look like joining a program to clean up trash in your community. It can look like getting involved in marches and rallies in your city.
The shared thing is just that activism requires a desire for change and to make your community a better place.
Can anybody be an activist?
Absolutely. If you have a voice and a means of expressing it, however that may be, you can fight for anyone and anything through activism.
I love identifying those children that care about the thing that they care about and want to take that next step into action too. I say it a lot around here, but you know, when we work with children, we're looking into our future.
And so kids, when we talk about you, we look for those ways that you can change this world. What are some of the most important causes, Courn, that you fight for?
Growing up in a community without a lot of kids that looked like me, I was often bullied for just being Asian. So of course anti-racism and racial equality has always been the most personal to me. But the great thing is that a need for equality connects so many other causes near to me, environmental activism, gender equality, LGBTQIA+ equality, workers' rights, and much more.
We've talked about gender and identity on this podcast before. And we've also talked about anti-Asian hate and I think any one of those things that we identify with—those things that make us feel like us—when those come under attack, that is an awful, awful thing. And I think it's also a space where we can step in and be that support for one another.
So I'm grateful for you for sharing those with us. And I'm also a fan of your causes. I would love to hear a little bit about what it was like for you to create a book for our youngest readers.
It was absolutely such an odd [experience to] create something that I really would have loved to read when I was younger. Like, it was definitely a challenge because I don't typically make a lot of stuff for kids, but it was also so much fun figuring that out. From writing to storyboarding and illustrating, I had such a blast working with the team to create something that I'm really proud [of].
Oh, that's so cool. I love the art in your book, as I shared. And also your message. I love that you also are giving those words to the person, reading the book to help communicate to the other person enjoying the book, the reader, whatever their age is. Do you have a favorite spread from the book? I have a favorite spread that I'm going to share with you, but do you have a favorite spread?
Yeah, I would have to say probably the last spread. It's the one with the large shoe and like everyone in arms kind of marching off the page. Like it really just felt like me. That was kind of the whole idea of the book summarized like this idea of community and unity.
I am so appreciative we're on this path and continue to be on this path that brought you to making this book, that brought you to sharing this story with readers.
I'm so grateful for that. I'm grateful that we got a chance to talk today before we leave. I'd love to ask you if there's a message about activism that you'd like to share with our listeners?
Yes, just one small thing. I'd just love to share that you are never too young, small, or unimportant to have a voice and make a difference in your community.
All it is ever taken is a single voice to start a movement. So why not you?
Each week on A Kids Book About: The Podcast, we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. Continuing on with our special series of episodes featuring authors and illustrators of our A Little Book About Series, today we have Courtney Ahn, author of A Little Book About Activism.