In the past one hundred years leaders all over the globe have studied his ideas and methods and lead successful nonviolent movements against repressive, unjust governments. After Gandhi is a comprehensive study of the ideas taking shape in the lives of leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh of Vietnam, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu of South Africa, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, the Student Activists of Tienanmen Square in China, Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, and Wangari Maathai of Kenya, among others. Each of the peace heroes is profiled and Gandhi's role in their education and development is highlighted. Particular emphasis is placed on the influences and opportunities they faced in childhood and youth, making these profiles interesting and relevant to young readers.
Although I lived through most of these movements and have heard this and that about them in my education, in the media and in my social circles, I was surprised at how little detail I actually knew about their lives and the successes of their struggles for peace, justice and change. I found reading this book to be delightful, encouraging and inspiring. Gandhi says;
"Be the change you want to see in the world.
If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
Nonviolence is an intensely active force when properly understood and used.
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."
Quotations such as these are set off in red sidebars for each of the profiled personalities. There is an opening scenario setting the scene, an essay recounting the life and work of the major figure, and a short biography summing up their life's work for each of the profiled world leaders. Their lives are truly inspiring and their words are phenomenal. This is a book that every young person should read and have on hand to re-read often.
The charcoal sketch illustrations throughout the book include portraits of the leaders of resistance and scenes of the protest meetings and marches. The one weakness of this book, in my opinion, is that these graphics are not particularly appealing to youth accustomed to full color, lively graphics. In our school library books illustrated in this style are often taken for old fashioned, tired dust collectors. It's a shame but I can't tell you how many great biographies have been weeded out of the collection just because the kids won't pick up black and white illustrations. I am afraid this failing will keep the book out of the hands and sight of youngsters browsing the shelves. The book will have to be presented and supported by teachers, librarians and parents in order to display it's treasures.
At the end of the book the authors tell a story of their own recent peace march as they joined The Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice: "Walkin' to New Orleans" in 2003, just six months after Katrina. They petitioned the government to bring our troops home from Iraq and focus on rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Anne Sibley O'Brien is a member of Military Families Speak Out and her son Perry Edmond O'Brien is a former Army medic serving in Afghanistan and Iraq who received an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector. He is the founder of www.peace-out.com, a website that helps servicemen navigate the conscientious objector application process.
Also noted: the final chapter is about the February 15, 2003 global peace protest promoted on the Internet.
"No one knows exactly how many people were involved, but estimates range from six to thirty million. The protesters were students,grandmothers, artists, businessmen and women, celebrities, nuns, veterans, children. In many languages, they spoke with one voice: "No War On Iraq!".... President George W. Bush and the US government didn't listen. On March 20th, 2003, American troops invaded Iraq."
March 20, 2003. March 20, 2009. Six years. Thousands (millions?) of lives in need of peaceful nonviolent protest.
Use this nonfiction, middle grade book of biographies in peace curriculum or to teach the Quaker SPICES of peace. (Quaker SPICES are the testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Service by which we live). The kidlit book blogger's nonfiction Monday roundup is hosted by L. L. Owens today. Go take a look!
Visit www.charlesbridge.com/client/aftergandhi.htm for an excerpt, posters, discussion/activity guide, and video trailer.
PASS THE PEACE: Inspired by After Gandhi, the Pass the Peace campaign is an effort to promote worldwide peace, tolerance, and nonviolent forms of protest. Charlesbridge Publishing has distributed posters to local companies, started a blog chain with a Pass the Peace widget, and donated money to Wangari Maathai's organization, The Greenbelt Movement, to spread the messages of the peacemakers profiled in the book. Feel free to post this widget to your blog, website, or social networking site, and forward it to others who may also wish to be involved.