Good Trouble: Amanda Gorman

On January 20, 2021, I watched Joe Biden’s inauguration. Perhaps, like me, you were feeling hopeful and optimistic, that democracy was working, that positive change was taking place – the country had survived January 6, we had a new President, and for the first time a female Vice President. Perhaps, also like me, all of that became secondary as you were transfixed by the young woman who took the podium – Amanda Gorman, only the sixth poet to read at an inauguration, and by far the youngest.

As she stood there reading, Amanda Gorman seemed far older than her 22 years, wiser, composed, and ready to take on the world, injustices, and to set things right. She showed no evidence of overcoming a speech impediment or an auditory processing disorder. She showed no wavering under the pressure of that international stage – especially while doing so as a young Black woman talking about the ills of our society and the need for hope, change and coming together. I watched her reading several times that day. As interest in her was immediate, I put together a blog post about her, collecting resources, as well as videos of her readings, including the inauguration.

Since then, she’s released a number of books, as well as continued her activism in areas such as literacy for women, gun safety and violence, and womens’ rights. Recently, she’s also become an anti-book banning spokesperson, following the banning of The Hill We Climb in a Florida school district.

Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman, art by Christian Robinson
Library Catalog

Robinson’s art depicts a young boy changing his community for the better, cleaning up garbage, planting a garden, and working together with other children for a common cause. This is all in stark contrast to the negativity of the grownups in his life – grownups who are ultimately moved to take part in the work.  Alongside the sweet and moving images, Gorman’s words reflect the positivity and persistence of the young boy, but can be applied to any desire to make a difference and change the world.

“You’re told not to hope.  But you keep hoping anyway.”

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman, art by Loren Long
Library Catalog

A young girl with a guitar sees and hears the need for change, and as she travels making a difference, her impact spreads as a diverse group of children pick up instruments and begin to work for positive change in the world with her.  Finally, she turns to the reader:  “Won’t you sing along?”


Little People, BIG DREAMS: Amanda Gorman by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, art by Queenbe Monyei
This biography in the popular series covers Gorman’s life through 2022, with an emphasis on her childhood struggles with a speech impediment and her desire to become a poet and make a difference in the world.


Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman
Library Catalog

A collection of Gorman’s poetry, including “The Hill We Climb” from President Biden’s inauguration, which examines America – its politics, people, beliefs, history, suffering, and more – with a critical, but also hopeful, eye.  For teens and adults.

Why “Good Trouble”?

Among many important things, civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis was famous for using the term “good trouble” when speaking on fighting against injustice in this country. This blog series will highlight books in our collection that might inspire you towards activism or provide you some ways to cause some “good trouble” fighting against societal injustices.

“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

“What can you do to get into good trouble? There is a light inside of you that will turn on when you get into good trouble. You will feel emboldened and freed. You will realize that unjust laws cannot stop you. These laws cannot stop the truth that is in your heart and soul.”

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

– John Lewis

Note: If you are interested in learning more about the life of  John Lewis, I highly recommend the March trilogy of graphic novels.
Categories: Authors & Books, Homepage Kids, Kids, and Library News.

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