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Books to Inspire Activism

Writers@Work: Books to Inspire Activism

“What inspires you?”

I often ask friends and writers that question.

Today, I’ve invited two writing friends to join me in talking about the poetry, essays, and books that inspired our books.

And here’s the best part: you could win all three of our books! Yup, two lucky winners will win a set of these books! Woot!


Rachel Sarah

About the book

Girl WarriorsIn Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth, you’ll meet 25 fierce, fearless climate activists who are fighting for your future.

I interviewed girls and young women—all under age 25 and from all around the world—to tell their stories about rising up for systemic change.

The book, for ages 8-13, earned a Kirkus starred review: “Engaging, brilliant, and intersectional: a must for shelves everywhere.”


What inspired you to write the book?

Reading poetry inspired me to keep writing this book, especially poems by:
· Camille T. Dungy
· Adrienne Rich
· Mary Oliver
· Ada Limón

For example, this poem by Adrienne Rich:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
—Adrienne Rich



Aileen Weintraub

About the Book

Inspire kids to be their best selves and get involved in social change with this stunning anthology about thirty-five amazing women in sports around the world and throughout history.

In We Got Game! readers will meet thirty-five female athletes who played hard, broke records, and inspired kids to be their best selves. Some of these athletes have retired. Others are still competing. But they have one thing in common: they all Got Game! Learn all about the first woman horse jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby, the number one tennis player in the world, a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, and a snow boarder who landed a death-defying jump, along with many others. These female athletes prove that girls can do anything!

What inspired you to write the book?

There are so many books that inspired me to write We Got Game, including Abby Wambach’s memoir Forward. This book was a story of resilience and was so inspiring that I was compelled to write about her accomplishments for a younger audience. So many girls drop out of sports at an early age, and I wanted to demonstrate what could happen if you follow your dreams and stay in the game. I began researching Wambach’s story and looking to other athletes who’ve made a difference in the world, not only in sports, but through social justice initiatives. Another amazing book that helped guide me along the way was Haley Shapley’s Strong Like Her, a beautifully photographed compilation about the grit and determination it takes to succeed.

PS If you sign up for this giveaway, head over to Aileen’s website at to download and print the free activity packet for WE GOT GAME! It’s chock full of puzzles, journaling, and fun quizzes, and would make the perfect stocking stuffer.


Rochelle Melander

About the book

Mightier than the SwordThroughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their words – transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference.





What inspired you to write the book?

Many years ago, when I was stuck in a career that didn’t fit, working for a challenging institution, and suffering from anxiety—a friend recommended Sister, Outsider by Audre Lorde. I devoured her words. She issued this call to action:

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? … Because I am myself—a Black woman warrior poet doing my work—come to ask you, are you doing yours?”

But there was more. In the essay, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” she wrote:
“We can train ourselves to respect our feelings and transpose them into a language so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.”

Her book sent me on a mission, to build that bridge across my fears. I read. I carved out time to write. I built a career as a coach, author, and editor. I began teaching young people.

I wrote Mightier Than the Sword to introduce young people to writers who had changed the world with their words. I wanted to write about the poets, novelists, and singers who had been building that bridge to a new future with their images and stories. And I wanted to include rebels and reformers who wrote manifestos, laws, protest documents, and more, literally declaring independence and freedom.

Why? Because I wanted make sure young people had the tools to build their own bridge to the future. We need them—their vision and their words—like never before.

PS I’ve created an activity pack for readers. Download it here.


The Giveaway

We are giving away two sets of our books! That means that two lucky winners will receive a copy of all three of our books, GIRL WARRIORS, WE GOT GAME, and MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. This is the perfect gift for classrooms, 3-8th graders, or anyone who’s interested in activism. Enter to win below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the authors

Rachel Sarah is a journalist based in Berkeley, CA (on Ohlone land). Her most recent book is Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth (April 2021, Chicago Review Press). She’s currently working on her next book about women climate leaders around the world for YA readers (Chicago Review Press, 2023). She’s also the mother of two incredible daughters. You can find Rachel on Twitter and Instagram.





Aileen Weintraub is an award-winning author, journalist, and editor. She has written for the Washington Post, Glamour, NBC, and AARP, among others. She has published several children’s books, including Parents’ Choice winner Never Too Young! Her laugh-out-loud book, Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir about marriage, motherhood, and the risks we take, releases March 1st and is currently available for preorder. Find her on Twitter.




RochelleRochelle Melander has published 11 books for adults. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is her debut book for children. Through her coaching, Rochelle Melander helps creatives overcome distractions, turn their ideas into books, and navigate the publishing world. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports young people in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Visit her on Twitter.

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