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The Children's Bookshelf: Change Sings: A Children's Anthem November 8, 2021


Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem with words by Amanda Gorman, the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, and gorgeously alive pictures by Loren Long is a parade of inclusion, a parade of action and a parade of loving determination.

This picture book is truly an anthem with all the gathering children from a variety of cultures each playing an instrument and showing their shared devotion to the necessity for change. It all starts with one young girl playing a large guitar. The words she’s singing are inviting: “I can hear change humming/ In its loudest, proudest song. I don’t fear change coming/ And so I sing along.”

Gradually the young girl gathers kids as they move across the land picking up bottles and trash, offering two hungry children food, building a proper plank for a woman in a wheelchair to exit her home and joyously re-stocking a neighborhood grocery store. These children, playing instruments such as a tuba, a trumpet, trombone, the drums and a tambourine, fill the world with music as they join the anthem to get things done and make things better.

The lively illustration of the refurbishing of the local market is wonderful. Windows are cleaned, broken bricks are restored, a CITY MARKET sign is also restored as workers bring in baskets full of fresh fruits and flowers. The heartbeat of the neighborhood can almost be heard!

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem written by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long is beautiful in both pictures and thoughts. It is designed for readers 4-8 years of age (Viking/ Penguin Random House, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Change Sings

For younger readers: Study the illustration near the back of the book that shows the picture of the children playing their instruments as people, including the children themselves look on from the street below. Find the following people, pets and items in this entire picture: a black and white dog, a yellow balloon, a soccer ball, a pair of cowboy boots, red tennis shoes, a man in a blue suit, a yarmulke, twins dressed alike, a garbage can and two guitars.

For older readers: Study the illustration near the front of the book that shows a mural with Martin Luther King at the center. Then, copy down the eleven words that are featured in this illustration and look up the meaning of each in a dictionary or online: love, unite, include, scream, sing, forgive, chant, accept, dream, change and hope. How do these words relate to this story?

Many of the illustrations in this book include a mural, a piece of art painted, drawn or placed on a wall or ceiling. For more examples of a mural look online at the work of Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Flint Public Art Project in Flint, Michigan. Parents and teachers can help.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.