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Music for this moment

“If you see something that’s wrong, raise your hand and say that’s wrong
Point it out and name that thing by its name
Don’t stand by and stare — if it’s wrong, it’s your affair
Don’t be quiet, make a riot, be a pain”
--lyrics from Alastair Moock’s “Be a Pain”

I’m going to step out of my lane today with a non-book recommendation.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Alastair Moock’s new CD Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders (a 2020 Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner) has been on our playlist since it was released in March. I think it’s the perfect album for the current moment when the one thing that’s clear on the day after the election is that the work for social justice and equality isn’t done. I’m not surprised, but it’s tempting to give in to despair.

The album appeals to our better angels and gives kids a playbook of sorts for how to lead in their own orbits. The songs encourage activism in both big and small ways: in other words, you can aspire to be like Malala ("I  Am Malala"), or, if that’s too grand, start by “Put[ting] one foot in front of the other / and lead with love.” [Full disclosure: Alastair’s kids babysit for our kids, and I’m related to one of the “very smart kids” in “What Is a Leader?”]

Well-known civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights advocates are well represented in a number of the songs. And if kids aren’t familiar with, say, Mahatma Gandhi or Harvey Milk, there are plenty of picture books ready to help!

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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