Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an icon. She is the youngest woman ever elected to the United States Congress. She was raised in the Bronx, where she now represents New York's 14th district. She made headlines when she beat a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary for her district in 2018, and she's been a fixture in headlines since. She's a hero to kids everywhere, and pretty soon these kids (and their progressive parents) can read all about her and her big ideas in a new book The ABCs Of AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez From A To Z (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). And Romper has an exclusive look inside.
Author Jamia Wilson is the perfect person to write a book about Ocasio-Cortez — "AOC" to her fans. Like AOC, she's a feminist activist and a strong proponent for change. "AOC shows kids of all races and genders that they are never too young to speak up, take action, and make a change in their community," she tells Romper via email. "Her historic ascent illustrates the power of curiosity, courage, and using your voice to support and inspire others. Whether readers are interested in activism, education, civics, feminism, or science they'll connect with the story of her heroic journey from the Bronx to the House."
Presenting AOC's story as an alphabet book is a great way for kids to learn some relevant vocab, such as "advocate," "grassroots," and "zeal." Robert Macfarlane has chronicled the words we "lose" each year from the dictionary in The Lost Words, a project that shines a light on the strange things we decide to teach kids ("broadband" has replaced things like "kingfisher" in recent years). Wilson's prose, then, brings some important words to circulation.
Beyond the book being a teaching tool, young readers are sure to relate to Ocasio-Cortez on a personal level.
AOC shows kids of all races and genders that they are never too young to speak up, take action, and make a change in their community.
Romper has a first look at spread from the book. Honestly, this spread, which includes the term "xenophobia" couldn't come at a better time. With examples seemingly everywhere you look in the media, you can share this spread with your kids as you explain why it is you are so angry about the news.
But the book doesn't get bogged down in doom and gloom. In fact, it is infused with joy and beauty. This is the debut book for illustrator Krystal Quiles, and her passion for AOC's work is evident in all the art found within the pages.
I think about all the kids living off the last stops of the 1,2,4,5,6 and D lines that can look up and see someone like AOC fighting for everything she believes in.
To her, the book is about so much more than politics. "Regardless of political stance, AOC has tenacity, grit, and pride — qualities that should be passed on to our children and are reminders for our adult selves," she tells Romper. "As a woman born in The Bronx of Puerto Rican heritage, I think about all the kids living off the last stops of the 1,2,4,5,6 and D lines that can look up and see someone like AOC fighting for everything she believes in. It gives me hope for a brighter future."
AOC's story and rise to national importance is sure to give young readers hope. But more than that, it will encourage them to make their voices heard. AOC is leading the charge for young voices to matter. "I have spoken in the past about how youth is not an embodiment of age, but of attitude — a willingness to risk for what is right, among others," she tweeted in 2018, imparting the value young people (even the very young!) bring.
Hers are lessons to equip small readers with big ideas. Embrace the diverse American experience. Don't put limits on the dreams of young women. Celebrate the work that is being done.