On April 16, we traveled from Montauk to Union Square in Manhattan to meet, interview and listen to author and activist Chelsea Clinton. She was speaking about her new book “She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History.”
The book included 13 women who were told to be quiet and to not push for their dreams. Chelsea tells us the importance of speaking up through her stories of the women she writes about. She writes the stories of people such as Marie Curie from Poland who became a scientist, Viola Desmond who started a civil rights movement in Canada and Mary Verghese from India who founded rehabilitation centers.
We asked Chelsea questions about her book, her life, and how she persists herself. Her answers were revealing and she was very nice even though she had a busy day ahead. Mia first asked her about her book and what inspired her to become an author. She said how she wanted to tell the stories of those around her and who had impacted her. She talked about how she was inspired by the actions of Helen Keller and Ruby Bridges in the United States and then wrote her second children’s book to share the stories of those around the world whose names may not be as famous.
Brody brought up that one of our classmates was sad that Bethany Hamilton (the woman who lost her arm when it was bitten off by a shark while surfing) was not one of the 13 women but he wanted to know how she narrowed it down to 13 women. Chelsea’s response was that although she was sorry Bethany wasn’t featured, she hopes that people will continue to tell her story and even we can continue to share the importance of persistence like Bethany did.
Trevor asked when Chelsea was young who did she look up to. She said she looked up to her mother and grandmother who are strong, extraordinary women. They taught her the importance of having a voice and being heard. They also taught her to be her own person and to not get brought down by mean people, bullies and negative actions. Chelsea was thankful for all that she learned from her mother and grandmother and for teaching her to be curious.
Mia asked Chelsea what her favorite books were. She explained how her interest and favorites have changed over the years. Her all-time favorite would be “A Wrinkle in Time,” but she also loves “Chicka Chicka 1,2,3,” “Caterpillar ABC,” and books by Mo Willems because those are books her two children are currently enjoying.
When Mary Jo asked Chelsea whether she was writing any new books, she said she already has new books coming out in October, 2018 and early 2019. They are just in the process of being published. She continues to brainstorm new ideas that will impact kids to help them lead a positive life. The questions then shifted to life as a president’s daughter. Mary Jo asked if living in the White House was fun. She responded that her parents tried to make it as normal as possible. She could invite friends over which was fun. But, she said the size of the White House wasn’t as important to her. It was the people she met whether it was the gardener, the housekeeper or the chefs. Finally Trevor asked what advice she had for kids like us. Her response was to write. Tell the stories of their experiences. She added that we should read, enjoy life and be involved, and if we had an idea or dream, to keep persisting to make it come true.
Watching Chelsea read the book to the audience was cool. We got to sit up front. First, her editor asked some questions such as where the inspiration came from to write the book. Then the audience was able to ask questions. Young kids asked about why her mom Hillary Clinton wasn’t one of the 13 women. She said how her mom was influential in her life but didn’t want to make it all political as things can sometimes turn. She actually has her mom illustrated in one of the portraits in the book in a red suit. Some questions were serious and others made everyone laugh especially when a young girl asked why Chelsea didn’t write herself into the book as someone who changes the world. After the talk, we got to go on stage and get our books autographed. We even got to say hi to her again and she looked us straight in the eye and remembered us from our interview. Staff from Barnes and Noble also took our picture while she was signing our book. It was a fun time coming to Union Square, especially to be able to see her Secret Service, too.