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Little Voices, Big Ideas: Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

This season, we’re looking at books that inspire the minds of the future presidents in your family. Those kiddos who write carefully-crafted pleas to the Tooth Fairy. Or rally their classes around calls for longer recess. The ones who inspire the family to shirk plastic straws in the new year. Or who would really just like a healthy planet to live on, thank you very much. Theirs are the little voices with the big ideas that stand to shape our shared futures, and we are HERE it.

We close this season of ‘Little Voices, Big Ideas’ with Sofia Valdez, Future Prez. This 2019 title, written by Andrea Beatty and illustrated by David Roberts, tells the story of what one girl–”just a kid”--can accomplish through summoning the courage to speak up. In Sofia’s case, the truth that needs speaking is that a dangerous garbage pile stands to harm the town of Blue Creek. Once Sofia rallies her friends, family, and neighbors around her, a movement grows, and a park gets built where Mount Trashmore once stood.

Host Sarah DeBacher is joined by fellow bookworms and co-conspirators in using picture books to change the world, Susan Larson, host of the podcast “The Reading Life”, children’s book author and public scholar, Freddie Evans  and philosophy professor and author of multiple books on teaching philosophy to the youngest among us, Thomas Wartenberg.

photo by Christina Walsh
Thomas and Leah

We will also hear from 8-year-old Leah and her father, Thomas, who you may recognize from another episode, recorded back when Leah was just 5. The two of them let Sofia Valdez, Future Prez lead them–and us–through a broad range of topics on what it means to live, young and old, in a country built Of, By, and For the People.

Let’s do it. Let’s go… beyond the bedtime story.

Sarah DeBacher is the Director of Curriculum and Content Development for PRIME TIME Family Reading at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Originally from Atlanta, she has lived in New Orleans for 23 years, where she has taught English and writing at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and the Bard Early College program. Her publications include “Making it Up as We Go: Students Writing and Teachers Reflecting on Post-K New Orleans” (Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning and Community Literacy, 2008), “First, Do No Harm: Teaching Writing in the Wake of Traumatic Events” (Composition Forum, 2016), and several essays on living in New Orleans. She is mother to two young sons, three chickens, two cats, and a rescue dog.