Recently I came across a new book for kids that should be in every school library. Legends, Leaders, and Legacies, by Susan Vollmer, is a compilation of short biographies of people around the world who lost their lives for important causes. It is written fairly simply so that children of upper elementary level and older can understand how one person can make a big difference because they felt a need to stand up for something they believed in. These personal biographies remind me of the books I devoured when I was a child, learning about the lives of those such as Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, but Legends, Leaders, and Legacies covers important international figures such as Steven Biko (South Africa), Anwar Sadat (Egypt) and Ahmad Shah Masood (Afghanistan) as well as others less well known.
Ms. Vollmer includes a thoughtful and inspiring introduction, and at the end of the book is a wonderful author’s note that summarizes what is has meant for these people to be leaders-the qualities they needed, the sacrifices they made-but most importantly Ms. Vollmer states that one does not have to be a certain age or be perfect or rich to be a leader. One only has to make a choice to lead a meaningful life. I love the message of this book, “No matter what your age is, no matter where you came from or where you will go, you have something to contribute, just like those who came before us.”
Not everyone will have it in them to change society, but each of us has the power to change the lives around us.