The Truths We Hold – An American Journey – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: an inspiring and lively autobiography.
Children’s book title: The Truths We Hold.
Children’s author: Kamala Harris.
Genre: non fiction autobiography.
Published by: Penguin Books.
Recommended for children aged: 12+
This edition published: May 2021.
This children’s book is ideal for: discussion in secondary school book clubs.
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Four dozen and seven months ago Americans held an election to choose their forty-fifth president. (I’m writing in June 2021 by the way.) For the first time since the republic was founded, they could vote for a female candidate, Hillary Clinton, wife of the forty-second president. And she won! Or rather, she didn’t. Because although more than three million picked her over her opponent, the system is so arranged (not rigged) that he, a rich, white, over-fed man, recognisable to anyone familiar with certain psychological spectra, got to hang his favourite gold wallpaper in the oval office.
But that’s all history. Joe Biden is the man in charge now and his vice-president is Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black person and person of Indian descent ever to hold that office. And she could easily find herself in the top job; six of the fourteen presidents since World War Two were previously vice-president.
This inspiring and lively autobiography, adapted for younger readers by Ruby Shamir, tells the story of her life up to that point.
A member of at least three minorities, life was never going to hand her a smooth and untroubled rise to success. She gives an honest account of how she dealt with her struggles and battles, never descending to rancour or resentment. Starting out as a lawyer in California, she became District Attorney of San Francisco, then Attorney General for the whole State, before being elected to the Senate.
Young people from similar backgrounds in this country should read this book. They need to be assured that nowhere in our society is completely out of reach for them. Eton, Oxford, favours from your old mates, cushy ‘jobs’ on the establishment’s newspapers – this may have been the reliable route to power up till now, but things can, and must, change.
Kamala Harris discussing her autobiography The Truths We Hold.
- Use with transition Y6-7 group to discuss how to deal with change and how to cope with new challenges.
- Discuss in KS3 book groups along with other autobiographies such as Boy by Roald Dahl, The Complete Adventures of Bear Grylls, A Different Boy by Paul Jennings, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah.
- Use as a writing impetus in KS3 autobiographical teaching units, in particular when examining what makes a person’s life unique and how to use the first person effectively.
- Discuss in KS3 PSHE classes how pupils can use the examples from Kamala Harris’ life to inform their own experiences and help formulate strategies to deal with obstacles, approach difficult conversations and learn from failure to build future success.
Many thanks to Penguin Books for the review copy.
If you like The Truths We Hold you might also like: our list of resilience topic books, Happy Healthy Minds by the School of Life, Challenge Everything by Blue Sandford, The Missing by Michael Rosen and our pick of the best new children’s books for summer 2021.
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