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The faces of change

This perfectly placed Post-It, indicating the publication month of a newly arrived book, grabbed my attention:

“I Have the Right to March”? I immediately thought of the student-led, nationwide March for Our Lives demonstration for gun legislation reform coming up on March 24th. It’s been on all of our minds here at The Horn Book — and, I imagine, a lot of yours as well. Read Kitty’s thoughts on the inspiring gun control advocacy of the teen Stoneman Douglas school shooting survivors, then follow the links she provides to find our recommended reading lists and some advice for supporting young activists. (Marjory Stoneman Douglas herself was an activist, and the students of the school are doing her legacy proud and then some.) Learn more about the movement, donate, and find an event near you at

Here’s the cover from above, sans Post-It:

The subject of I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope (Simon; March 2018) by nineteen-year-old Chessy Prout is just as timely — and heartbreaking, and difficult and necessary to address. The memoir covers her sexual assault by a senior boy in her freshman year of high school; the aftermath and trial; the complicity of the school administration and community; and her thoughts on dismantling rape culture. Prout’s story is, literally and figuratively, close to home: St. Paul’s, the boarding school both she and her assailant attended, is in New Hampshire, and Prout’s co-author, Jenn Abelson, is an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team; the book’s release today comes in the midst of a groundswell of #metoo allegations in children’s/YA publishing and far beyond. (Here’s just the latest news.)

Prout’s determination to fight the insidious, ingrained culture of sexual violence and her assertion “I have the right to live my life fearlessly” recall those of the Stoneman Douglas survivors:

Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.

More accurately, as MSD student and gun control advocate Emma González writes, change is here. It’s embodied in this generation of passionate young activists. They are the faces of change.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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