Book Talk

BOOK TALK! Books that Inspire Us to Learn and Take Action

April 3, 2018

For my annual West Hollywood Children’s Roundtable BOOK TALK, I compose a list Royof books on specific themes determined in collaboration with the Social Services Team from the City of West Hollywood.  The City graciously purchases these books — and I give a book talk for the 40+ attendees, all from schools and agencies that support children and families. Then comes the book giveaway! A popular event!

Here is this year’s selection. 

Children Who CAN!

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh. What can young children do to be an active participant in their world? Plenty! In fact, adult can use a few of these reminders . . . to be response-able and thoughtful! What we learn from children!

Children and Communities Who DO

Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future by Allan Drummond. How can we turn lemons into lemonade on a HUGE scale? A tornado in Greensboro, Kansas, 2007, caused massive destruction. So much so that the city had to decide whether to pack it up and leave, or rebuild. Their answer: TURN GREEN! This is the story of one of the greenest cities in America and how this can and did happen.

What we MUST Preserve

Why Does Democracy Matter? by Jessica Pegis. The way you can preserve something is to understand what it is, how it works, and why it matters. Democracy, more fragile than we may imagine, needs to be carefully taught. Simply put in text and images, the book starts with What is democracy?, includes People power, More about respect, and Democracy depends on you.

People who Support Democracy

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy. Reading about Ruth Bader Ginsburg can take a person’s breath away, learning of her struggles, her achievements, and her persistent voice in upholding equity and equality for all. Whether she agrees or disagrees with the Supreme Court decisions, Justice Ruth has influenced our daily lives and supported the democracy and US Constitution. For this, she is a hero.

Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency by Pete Souza. As a children’s version of his bestselling book Obama, Pete Souza gives us a fantastic gift. Dream Big Dreams is a book for all ages and the photographs illustrate six messages from Obama’s presidency as captured in vivid color: Be Kind and Respectful, Work Hard, Make Time for Family, Show Compassion, Have Fun, and Dream Big Dreams.

Being a Rebel or Rebellious?

 Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix  by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June JoLee. This is a true Los Angeles story of a “’street cook’ (who) wahrs outsiders, low-riders, kids, teens, shufflers, and skteboarders to have food made with care, with love, with sohn-maash [a Korean word for the flavors in our fingertips].” Roy is a valued immigrant (as they all are) who grew up to find his place wearing a chef hat! Follow his story to see how actualized did his dream – bringing good food into hungry neighborhoods.

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone. A film profiling nine memorable girls coming of age in the developing world has become a book, an in-depth look at 1) The Stakes, 2) The Stories, and 3) The Solutions. We have to know what people around the world face if we, together, will build sustainable solutions e v e r y w h e r e. We might not face childhood marriage, or modern day slavery personally, however we can learn from those whose resilience elevates them, those around them, and us – as distant as we may be.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Read this novel. The story is today, it could take place anywhere, and we are all participants. Meet Starr Carter who lives in a poor neighborhood, and attends a privileged independent school. As an African-American teen “living between two worlds,” she has a lens on society. Step into the world and you will be forever changed.

Teenage Rebels: Successful High School Activists from the Little Rock 9 to the Class of Tomorrow by Dawson Barrett. If you don’t know about Sybil Ludington, or a 10,000 student strike, or legalizing dance (outside of Footloose) then this book is an education FOR YOU!!!!


The Authentics by Abdi Mazemian.  Daria is Iranian American and struggling with who she is and who she wants to be. She wants to be real, even if that challenges her friendships. With other girls she forms “The Authentics,” to be true to truth. However, when some family secrets emerge, Daria’s world is unraveled, and she has to rebuild trust in those she loves.