Some people were put on this earth to inspire others. My guest today, author Sandra McLeod Humphrey, fills that role in countless ways. I recently read Sandra’s book They Stood Alone!: 25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference, which is entertaining, educating, and wonderfully inspiring. Before we get to the book, I want to introduce the woman behind the words:
Sandra McLeod Humphrey is a retired clinical psychologist, a character education consultant, and an award-winning author of eight middle-grade and young adult books. She’s also the recipient of the National Character Education Center’s Award for Exemplary Leadership in Ethics Education (2000) and the 2005 Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature. You can learn more about her books by visiting her Web site at www.kidscandoit.com and her blog at www.kidscandoit.com/blog.
Here’s a look at the book we’ll be discussing:
Imagine this: For centuries everyone has believed that the sun and all the planets revolve around the earth. But by studying the old books and observing the heavens, you have concluded that the earth and all the other planets revolve around the sun. Your theory is so radical that you are hesitant to tell others about it. Your name is Nicolaus Copernicus. Although at first your beliefs are denounced and ridiculed, your observations are eventually proved correct. In time, you come to be called the founding father of modern astronomy.
Or imagine this: It’s the early 19th century and women have few legal rights. Married women can’t own property, their wages belong to their husbands, and they don’t even have the right of guardianship over their children. You know the laws are unfair, but as a young woman yourself, what can you do? Your name is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You spend your life fighting for women’s rights, and later many give you credit for being the architect and founder of the Women’s Rights Movement.
Nicolaus Copernicus and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are just two of the twenty-five extraordinary men and women whom you will have a chance to meet in this inspiring book that explores and celebrates people who had the courage to follow their own convictions, even when everyone around them said they were wrong. They were people of vision who saw life from a new perspective and were willing to question conventional wisdom. And their revolutionary breakthroughs changed and shaped the course of history.
Author Sandra McLeod Humphrey invites you to have the courage to stand alone too, hold on to your dreams, and follow your heart wherever it may lead. Like the twenty-five pioneers who lived before you, you too may someday make a difference.
Now on to our conversation:
Tell us a little about your most recent book, They Stood Alone!: 25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference.
They Stood Alone! is a collection of brief biographies of 25 men and women who refused to conform to the societal beliefs and expectations of their time and, by stepping out and away from the crowd, they changed their world and ours as well. I want kids to know that one person can indeed make a difference!
The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) selected They Stood Alone! for their annual list of best selections for young adults in the nonfiction category and it also received the 2011 Mom’s Choice Gold Award for Young Adult Nonfiction and was the 2011-2012 DIY Book Festival Winner for the Teenage category.
Well deserved awards!What inspired you to write the book?
While doing my school visits, I realized how many students had already given up their dreams and no longer had any personal aspirations. I wanted to restore their hopes and their dreams by showing them that one person can indeed make a difference. Each of the 25 men and women in my book made a unique contribution which changed and shaped the course of history, and they weren’t afraid to take a risk even when it meant standing alone.
In the words of one reviewer, “This is a book of hope … and a deep belief in the difference that one person can make when an ability, an idea, or a goal is taken to its highest level.”
I wholeheartedly agree with that reviewer! I also want to emphasize that, while this book is geared toward young adults, it truly is a fascinating read for us old adults, as well.
How did you go about choosing which 25 people to include in your book?
I wanted a mix of both men and women and I wanted a representation of all the arts and sciences as well as philosophers, educators, inventors, etc. All my biographies were social activists, each in his or her own way.
Interestingly, some of my subjects turned out to be rather controversial. One prepublication endorser didn’t feel comfortable endorsing the book because of Columbus’s exploitation of the natives and another endorser opted out because of the controversy surrounding Rachel Carson’s role in the banning of DDT which resulted in the subsequent rise in deaths from malaria.
Wow, I wouldn’t have thought this book to be controversial! I am not a big Columbus fan myself, but there is no arguing the fact that he was a pivotal figure in history. I also have to admit to being a fan of Rachel Carson. She made us look differently at the chemicals we use.
Many of your subjects were independent spirits who rebelled against the expectations of societal conformity. What advice would you give parents of children who want to color outside the lines in life?
Unfortunately, our public schools don’t have the wherewithal to encourage this kind of independent thinking so, for the most part, it will be up to the parents to broaden the boundaries of the learning arenas for their kids. Many of the parents of these men and women did just that and, in almost all the cases, education was a top priority in the homes.
What do you think we as a society can do to better support those individuals willing to take a stand?
I’m afraid that our society has become too focused on being “politically correct” these days to provide much encouragement to those who are willing to step out and away from the crowd, but there will always be those few individuals who are willing to take an unpopular stand even when it means standing alone.
Yes, thankfully, we will always have rebels!
You have a blog which goes along with this book where you share inspirational stories. Tell us about that.
Each week I feature a youth who has stepped out and away from the crowd and done something extraordinary. So far I’ve had youth who have risen above their physical disabilities to attain their dreams, youth who have inspired others through their service to their communities, and youth who have dedicated their lives to helping other youth, knowing that they themselves would not live to see the ultimate fruits of their labors. All of these youth have indeed made a difference!
I love this blog! I’m always inspired by these stories.
What are you working on now?
My latest book coming out this fall is a problem-solving book for kids called Making Bad Stuff Good. The premise of the book is that how we respond to what happens to us is more important than what actually happens to us—Attitude Is Everything!
I know a lot of adults who could benefit from this book!
What’s next on the agenda for They Stood Alone!?
I have an Amazon BestSeller Book Launch coming up September 25th and anyone who purchases a copy of They Stood Alone! from Amazon that day will receive more than 20 great downloadable bonus gifts! It’s going to be an exciting time for my book and a great opportunity for people to receive some wonderful bonus gifts!
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I love meeting other book lovers and these are some of my contact links:
http://twitter.com/Sandra305 or @Sandra305
e-mail: Sandra305 -at- aol.com
Thanks so much, Darcia, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog!
Always my pleasure, Sandra! Thank you for sharing with us today.
Sandra has a powerful collection of books that I recommend all parents have at home for their children. In fact, I think these books should be required reading in schools. Here’s a look at them on Amazon
You can also find her books on Barnes and Noble, in print and for Nook.
One more thing I’d like to mention. Bullying is a topic often in the news these days. One of Sandra’s books addresses this topic, and I highly recommend it. Last year, Sandra was a guest here and shared a piece she’d written called Bullying Then And Now. She offers important tips for parents and children. You can find that post here: http://quietfurybooks.com/blog/2011/12/bullying
Pass one of Sandra’s books on to a child in your life. It could well be one of the best gifts you’ll ever give.
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 25 Men and Women Who Made A Difference, author interviews, Books That Inspire, Christopher Columbus, Copernicus, Educational Books For Children, Independent Thinking, Inspirational Biographies, Inspiring Books for YAs, Kids Can Do It, Rachel Carson, Sandra McLeod Humphrey, They Stood Alone!, YA Authors