It's no secret that kids can change the world — just ask 12-year-old Marley Dias, the middle schooler who launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign to promote diverse literature and pressure school districts to include different books on their curriculums. Or maybe talk to six-year-old Armani Crews, who celebrated her birthday by handing out food and donated goods to the homeless. Or perhaps you should chat with Jazz Jennings, a 16-year-old activist in the trans rights movement? Despite the fact that children can't vote, they still have a role to play in American politics, something activist and author Chelsea Clinton understands all too well and believes to be of utmost importance in the era of Donald Trump.
This April, Clinton plans to release the paperback edition of It's Your World, a guide to activism she wrote to specifically address the issues that matter most to young people and to encourage them to get involved in the political process on a global scale.
"I think kids are so attuned to what's happening in the world around them," Chelsea Clinton tells Bustle. "I think they're so hungry at every age to understand what's happening, to know where they fit within that, and what they can do about the things that might not feel right to them."
Clinton, the current vice chair of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, is a lifelong activist, and her road to civic mindfulness was inspired, in part, by her childhood reading. (Her parents probably had something to do with it, too.)
"I read a book called 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth when I was a kid and it had a huge impact on me," she says. "If It's Your World could even impact one kid the way [that book] impacted me, I would be really excited about that."
For Clinton, the message of It's Your World is personal. The mother-of-two understands that kids, including hers, are the future — and the decisions made by leaders and politicians today will seriously impact their lives for years to come. But just because they can't vote, doesn't mean they can't impact the direction of their country or their world. Clinton asks young people to continue to show up at town hall meetings and demand tough answers from their representatives. She also encourages them to start at home — to talk with those around them about the issues that they believe matter most.
"I hope that young people will keep talking to their family and friends who are old enough to vote about what they think is important," she says. "But I kind of hope they're going to take their voices to their elected officials, because they deserve to be heard, and I do think it is important that their elected officials hear them."
Clinton has stayed busy over the last few months in her efforts to inspire kids and young adults. The paperback edition of It's Your World now features real stories of the child and teen activists she met on her tour for the book's initial release. "I wanted to share some of the stories of kids I had met who were making a difference, or inspired me, or kids who were inspired in part by the book to tackle challenges that they really felt called to," Clinton says.
Chelsea Clinton's work to inspire young people doesn't end with It's Your World. In May, she will release a children's book called She Persisted, inspired by Sen. Mitch McConnell's now-famous remarks about Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."
The book is a tribute to 13 American women who persisted — including Sonia Sotomayor, Harriet Tubman, and Helen Keller — and changed the course of history. Although geared toward a younger audience, She Persisted shares the mission of It's Your World: get out there, and get stuff done — no matter your age.
"Kids are going to live in the future longer than we are," Clinton says. "So they do have the most at stake."