________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 1 . . . . September 8, 2017


Can Your Smartphone Change the World? (PopActivism).

Erinne Paisley.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2017.
133 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $14.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1303-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1304-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1305-2 (epub).

Subject Headings:
Smartphones-Social aspects-Juvenile literature.
Social action-Juvenile literature.
Social justice-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The more I thought about it, the more sense it made to use the power of social media to make activism effective. When you're trying to make a difference, there is always more power in numbers. I had first learned this at thirteen, sitting in the WE Day crowd, awkwardly head-bobbing to Demi Levato and chanting with thousands of others that we were "the leaders of today." Effective activism always starts with a conversation, which ideally leads to questioning the way things are and inquiring into whether there is the possibility of improvement. Using social media, this process can happen very quickly and on a large scale.

Can Your Smartphone Change the World? is written by an activist, public speaker, youth content developer, and student at the University of Toronto. Erinne Paisley garnered a lot of social media attention in 2015 when she created her high school prom dress out of old math homework. Written on her paper skirt was the message: "I've received my education. Not every woman has that right. Malala.org". She donated the money she would have spent on a formal gown to the Malala Foundation. In breezy, conversational style narration, Paisley recounts how a photograph of her dress posted on twitter went viral, and how she effectively used the online reaction to raise awareness about equal-education causes.

      Paisley defines the term "PopActivism" as "Activism that is integrated with pop culture and inspires similar acts which can be created in everyday life." In the chapters that follow, she examines many recent successful social media campaigns that are spreading the word about social issues on a global scale, and affecting change. When The Boy Scouts of America refused to award the Eagle Award to a LGBTQ Scout in 2013, an online petition on Change.org helped to change the discriminatory policy. Lizzie Velasquez, who was once the target of cyber-bullying, uses her own YouTube channel to promote anti-bullying, pro-kindness campaigns like I am a Witness. To break the silence around mental illness, on January 27 of every year, Bell Canada donates five cents to mental health initiatives when the #BellLetsTalk hashtag is used on social media posts.

      The information is presented in an engaging, interactive manner. Sidebars include quotations, photographs and practical tips and advice like "You Tube 101" and "Create your own Awareness". Pop quizzes are scattered throughout the pages in the shape of smartphone screen shots, and they spur readers to action, offering up conversation starters and ideas: "What can you and your school do to celebrate and take action of Earth Day?", "What would you wish for on your birthday that would benefit others even more than you?", and "What challenge in your life do you think others experience?" A list of online resources is also included at the end of the book.

      Teens tired of hearing the complaint, "You're always glued to your phone", will find this first entry in the "PopActivism" series to be vindicating and inspiring.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke, a librarian in London, ON, is just starting to dip her toes into social media (@lindamludke).

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