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Make Your Mark, Make a Difference

A Kid's Guide to Standing Up for People, Animals, and the Planet

About The Book

Take the first steps into activism with this comprehensive middle grade guide that empowers readers to choose and become knowledgeable in a cause they are most passionate to reform, and to create meaningful change through learning what’s already been accomplished—and what can still be done.

Getting involved can be an overwhelming prospect, but this guide provides readers with tools to become informed and effective activists with an accessible approach offering hope and perspective.

From Black Lives Matter and light pollution to climate change and healthcare equity for all, the book leads readers through an overview of issues, an essential human rights background, and stories of how other young activists tackle local, national, and international problems. Readers will discover a multitude of ways to build change and learn that every contribution matters.

About The Author

Photograph by Rob Hislop Photography

Joan Marie Galat is an internationally award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including The Story of Malala Yousafzai: A Biography Book for New ReadersDark Matters: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution, and Too Much Trash: How Litter Is Hurting Animals. She is known for presenting complex information to young readers in approachable and engaging ways. A professional speechwriter, former radio host, and frequent presenter, Joan has traveled across Canada and from Australia to South Korea to deliver literacy-building presentations based on her books. She lives near Edmonton, in Canada. Learn more at JoanGalat.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin/Beyond Words (February 13, 2024)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665910354
  • Ages: 10 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

Activists can be people of all ages who make changes in big and small ways. Whether raising money to put signs on the road warning drivers of frogs crossing, decreasing one’s home thermostat temperature and encouraging others to do the same, or leading a march protesting injustice or change, every effort can help a cause. The author shares with young readers what it means to be an activist and ways they can help in their home, school, and community. The earlier chapters cover overall aspects, while each additional chapter provides an in-depth depth look at issues such as animal conservation, the environment, space exploration, peace, equality, and poverty. Notably, Galat advises readers to ensure they are helping legitimate organizations when donating money and supplies. Readers will be met with a plethora of facts and guidance on activism, as well as stories of real-world activists. The volume of information can make this an overwhelming read for those who don’t already have the passion to be a leader in making a difference. Mini quizzes break up the reading and “get chatty” boxes feature questions to spark discussions between readers and people in their lives. Quotes from known activists at the beginning of each chapter are a refreshing and delightful addition. VERDICT While a valuable resource, this may be most useful where budding activists abound or where adults will use it to learn alongside the target audience.

– School Library Journal, 2/1/24

This is one of those subversive titles that attempts to capture the minds of impressionable young people and turn them into lifelong activists. All necessary ingredients are provided: cheerful exhortations to get involved, upbeat assurances that everyone can contribute towards a better future, step-by-step directions on how to become effective advocates, and introductions to overarching issues (the environment, animal rights, human rights, outer space). There are profiles of young activists and introductions to kid-accessible grassroots movements, organizations, and nonprofits. Case studies that will resonate with tweens act as blueprints for action and document successes; an entire chapter is devoted to showing how different kinds of art can bring about change. Pages are filled with line drawings and graphics, lists, quizzes, prompts, and multiple reoccurring inserts (“Be the Change!” “One Thing You Can Do Now,”
“Spread the Word”). Other helpful features include embedded vocabulary definitions and detailed chapter notes. This inspiring manual teems with realistic and creative suggestions that will appeal to all kinds of potential activists and hopefully encourage our next generation of changemakers.

– Booklist , 02/15/2024

A guide to recognizing and fighting many different kinds of injustice.

The first section, “Examine Your World,” gets readers to identify problems (starting with their homes, schools, and communities) and then to set specific, attainable goals and work toward solutions. Using an encouraging tone, Galat explains the concepts of human rights and activism, summarizing a slew of contemporary issues and offering condensed accounts of individual and group efforts with some brief, positive examples from around the world showing varied types of approaches. The case studies mostly highlight young people tackling problems, including some well-known names such as Malala Yousafzai and Mari Copeny. The middle sections examine in greater depth six broad areas for action: animals, the environment, space exploration, peace, equality, and poverty. The final section, “Change Is Everywhere,” focuses on engaging in activism through the arts and on remaining positive and persistent while being realistic about the pace of progress. Some vocabulary is defined in the text, including terms such as discrimination and molestation. Text boxes introduce topics for conversation and suggest immediate actions readers can take (such as making pamphlets or properly disposing of old medications), thus helping readers clarify their ideas, raise funds, and enlist others. The text, which is punctuated with stock art, embodies the clear communication skills the author endorses and is leavened with subtle humor. The book explains and encourages the many life skills and qualities involved in effective activism, such as research, critical thinking, organization, record-keeping, and empathy.

A hands-on, practical, wide-ranging, and information-packed handbook for budding activists. (source notes) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

– Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2023)

“Being the change we want to see in the world isn’t always easy. For parents and children alike, it can be challenging to start a conversation on how we can tackle the barriers to a better world. Joan Marie Galat’s book is an excellent guide for young readers to get curious and find inspiration as our next generation of difference makers. Make your Mark, Make a Difference offers a step-by-step toolkit for anyone hoping to develop the skills to create positive change within their communities! Together we truly can make a difference!”

– Rick Hansen, Founder Rick Hansen Foundation

“Informative, upbeat, empowering—Joan Marie Galat has created an antidote to despair in this guide to creating a kinder planet. Readers, teachers, thinkers, and community-builders will use this book as a starting point to a life of joyful action for positive change. Beautifully designed with well-researched information and terrific examples of youth activism, Make Your Mark, Make a Difference should be a staple in classrooms and will be a life-changing gift to kids who care. Great book!”

– Deborah Ellis, peace activist and author of the Breadwinner series

“Two of our world's most desperate needs right now are hope and possibility. Luckily for us, Joan Galat's new book, Make Your Mark, Make a Difference provides readers with both in spades! I'll surely be reading it with my own four sons, and encouraging all my students and colleagues to share this inspiring book with others!”

– Luke Reynolds, PhD, professor of education at Endicott College, former public middle school teacher, author, and dad

"In a world like this with so many issues where it can often feel like you can’t make a dent, we need more youth changemakers than ever. Books like this provide the necessary inspiration for youth to take that first or next step in their journey to make a difference! I can honestly say I wish I had this starting my activism when I was 9.”

– Hannah Alper, activist, blogger, and author of Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change

“Encourage kids to be the change! With profiles of young people that demonstrate hope and progress on some of today’s most crucial issues, Make Your Mark, Make a Difference is a fantastic tool for kids who want to change the world. And the perfect book for librarians, teachers, and parents looking to inspire them.”

– Michelle McCann, author Enough is Enough and Reading Together

“With a wide variety of potential causes to care about, loads of stories of others who’ve made a difference, and plenty of good advice along the way, Make Your Mark, Make a Difference is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to the idea that they can be changemakers—right now.”

– Laurie Ann Thompson, author of Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream

“Being the change we want to see in the world isn’t always easy. For parents and children alike, it can be challenging to start a conversation on how we can tackle the barriers to a better world. Joan Marie Galat’s book is an excellent guide for young readers to get curious and find inspiration as our next generation of difference makers. Make your Mark, Make a Difference offers a step-by-step toolkit for anyone hoping to develop the skills to create positive change within their communities! Together we truly can make a difference!”

– Nhung N. Tran-Davies, author of The Doll and Green Papayas, and cofounder of Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation

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