Mining For Heart: “An Outside-In and Inside-Out Look at Creating a Book” by Keila Dawson

If I was still teaching, I’d have both of these books in my classroom! In varied types of poetry, voices of kids speak out and invite all to join in their call to action. With a book like this, the challenge of finding the “heart” is different than in a narrative. This post from Keila Dawson, one of the co-creators of NO WORLD TOO BIG, showcases the many levels of “heart” involved in this important anthology.

GIVEAWAY! Keila is offering a 30 minute classroom virtual visit. Leave a comment below to enter to win a visit you can use in your own classroom or gift to an educator!

Congratulations to Carrie Brown, winner of the previous post educator giveaway — a copy of CLOAKED IN COURAGE, 30 bookmarks, and a virtual author visit! WOOHOO!

An Outside-In and Inside-Out Look at Creating a Book by Keila Dawson

Thanks for having me on your blog, Beth! My coeditors, Lindsay Metcalf, Jeanette Bradley, and I were thrilled that NO VOICE TOO SMALL resonated with so many students and educators and wanted to write a companion title. We knew it would be another poetry anthology featuring young activists and needed a topic that youth cared deeply about. And young people are very concerned about climate change. That part of the heart of this book came from the outside-in.

NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley, 40 pages (Charlesbridge, March 14, 2023).

In fact, some young people are so concerned about climate change that they become emotionally and physically distressed. Psychologists call those extreme feelings “eco-anxiety”. Although we may live in different states and regions within the U.S., or in different countries, we all share one planet. The topic is relatable because most have witnessed or experienced the effects of natural disasters. To add heart from the inside-out, we collected stories to show kids they are not alone in their feelings or experiences and to acknowledge this crisis affects their future.

Activism centers on problem solving, and one way to deal with anxiety is taking action, so we focused on featuring young changemakers who are channeling their feelings and talents into action.  The different layers allow readers different entry points. Jeanette’s portraits show the determination and resilience of these young climate warriors. The biographical poems highlight their passion. The brief biographies we wrote in prose share each youth’s individual motivation behind their story. And the actionable tips on each spread encourage other hopeful hearts.

Each poet who contributed poems to NO WORLD TOO BIG put their hearts on the page. The poets connected to the topic and with the young changemaker they wrote about. 

Once again, we were impressed with the variety of poetic forms poets used. Renée LaTulippe, who has experience in the performing arts, wrote a dramatic monologue about the young activist who used theater to educate others about climate change in the Philippines. Teresa Robeson, a long-time environmental activist from Southeast Asia, wrote a lục bát poem about the bio-fueled buses used at a school in Bali. Lindsay opened the book with a found poem and I wrote the closing as a golden shovel poem. The sea chanty below about New Englander Zanagee Artis, written by Jeanette Bradley, also a New Englander, is a fitting form in which to share his story.

Both books, NO VOICE TOO SMALL and NO WORLD TOO BIG, are a call to action with the same heartfelt message; everyone can be the someone who does something

NO WORLD TOO BIG will be available March 14, 2023. Preorder anywhere books are sold. 

Bookshop   Amazon   BARNES & NOBLE

Find video, articles and interviews on the author’s website on the NO WORLD TOO BIG book page

Keila V. Dawson (CREDIT Robert Frenck, Jr.)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a 30 minute virtual visit with Keila Dawson – for your classroom or to gift to an educator of your choice. (winner announced 3/3/23)

Keila V. Dawson worked as a community organizer, educator, and advocate for children with disabilities before becoming a children’s book author. She writes fiction and nonfiction picture books. She is coeditor of No World Too Big, Young People Fighting Global Climate Change, and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History. Dawson is the author of Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book, The King Cake Babyand the forthcoming Yumbo Gumbo.

Awards and honors for her books include an International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, a NCSS and NCTE Notable, Kirkus Best Book, Chicago Public Library Book, New York Public Library Best Book, Bank Street Best Book, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Noteworthy Book, a two-time Ohioana finalist, Jane Addams finalist, a 2023 Charlotte Award and 2023-24 Louisiana Readers’ Choice Award nominee.

A New Orleans native, Dawson has also lived and worked in different states across the U.S., and abroad in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. When she isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives. Find more about her and her books at

8 thoughts on “Mining For Heart: “An Outside-In and Inside-Out Look at Creating a Book” by Keila Dawson

  1. I love stories told in a variety of poetic forms. I’m beginning a poetry unit in my classroom and this would be a valuable addition to our classroom library. We would love a visit with Keila!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think we all have a bit of eco-anxiety. Love the cover and title of your new book. And it taps into my favorite theme of encouraging kids to get involved in making a difference. Listened to a live interview with Greta Thunberg last week and she talked about how depressed she had gotten. And she’s tired of adults saying that it will be her generation that will make a difference. It needs to be our generation taking action NOW to help the future generations. Look forward to reading your second book. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

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