Author! Author!

By Valerie Wyatt, Editor, CitizenKid Books

I’ve worked in children’s publishing for decades. The industry has changed a lot in that time. But then, so has the world. We’re far more interconnected now. Where I might once have sent a letter, or hopped on a plane, today I can speak to a classroom full of children in Japan via Skype without ever leaving my home in beautiful British Columbia.

But all that interconnection and speed of communication mean our neighbors half-a-world away are no longer the strangers to us that they once were. If there’s a famine in Africa, we hear about it. An earthquake in Asia, or a tsunami in Japan? Pictures and video appear on our TVs, smartphones and computer screens within minutes. Faced with great human need, we may find ourselves with a need of our own: the pressing need to do something to help.

Part of what we as adults can do is to help prepare the next generation to be the kind of compassionate global citizens our shrinking world will demand. We can teach children that they not only have privileges, but rights and responsibilities. We can show them that not everyone lives like they do, and demonstrate – in small, age-appropriate ways – that they have the power to make the world a better place.

That’s why I’m very proud to have been a part of the team that’s put together the CitizenKid collection of books. Through gorgeous illustrations and words beautifully arranged in simple stories and metaphors, we equip children ages 8 to 12 to begin to think about – and engage with – the big, complicated social realities that are so much a part of life in the 21st century. And we do so in kid-friendly ways.

At CitizenKid Central, we believe that if something is inherently interesting – like microfinance, for example – then it’s probably going to interest children too. And as we do a good job of making the complex comprehensible, young readers will naturally begin to care.

With the right encouragement, they’ll gravitate toward putting their caring into action. And we’ll find the world of tomorrow is a better place indeed.

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