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Chelsea Clinton helping children to change the 'World'

Author Chelsea Clinton

Author Chelsea Clinton Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

When you're the daughter of a very famous couple, there are lots of expectations.

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary, says that when she was a kid, her parents set high standards for her, and it was one of the greatest gifts they ever gave her.

"I remember being a little kid and we would talk about the news and then when I could read, reading the newspaper and talking to my parents about what I didn't understand or what made me frustrated or angry about what was happening in our hometown of Little Rock, [Arkansas], or around the world," Clinton, 35, says.

When she was 10 years old, Clinton was influenced by the book "50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth," by the Earthworks Group, because it "treated me seriously as an agent of change and it gave me real tangible things I could do."

She's hoping to help a new generation of children in a similar way with her new book, "It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going," out Sept. 15. Geared toward ages 10-14, the book guides young readers through such serious issues as the economy, health, human rights and the environment.

amNewYork spoke with Clinton -- who will be discussing the book on Sept. 15 at Barnes & Noble Union Square with writer/actress Tavi Gevinson -- about "It's Your World."

Why were these issues important to you?

I think all of them are issues that disproportionately affect kids or ones that I've heard from kids that they really care about or are ones where kids are already making a real difference in the world and that kids with a little bit more information could be making even more of a difference on.

How can kids make a difference in the world?

In "It's Your World," I talk about some kids who are making some very real changes in their communities and across the country and across the world. So I talk about Matti from Missouri, who organized a walk to raise money to sponsor a well because she learned that hundreds of millions of people across the world still don't have clean water and she wanted to do something about that. And now there's a well in the world where hundreds of people have access to clean water that didn't before because she learned about a problem and decided to do something about it.

Are you surprised by some of the amazing things kids are doing?

I think it surprised me at first, but now I'm not surprised because I've had the privilege of talking to so many kids and meeting so many kids who are engaged in changing the world around them and around us. That doesn't mean I'm any less impressed. I'm always so impressed by kids who see a challenge and then decide to do something about it.

You have a unique upbringing, of course. How did that help shape you, and how are you going to take that to the next generation?

My parents engaged me in the business of changing the world from a young age. We worked in soup kitchens. My parents took me with them when they were voting. We sponsored a family around the holidays, and we would pick out Christmas presents for a family that couldn't afford to give presents to their kids and be a secret Santa. ... I certainly hope to do the same with [my 1-year-old daughter] Charlotte, to help her engage in the world around her and to help her feel a responsibility to help the world be more of what she wants to see.

Let's talk craft. How did you enjoy the process of writing the book?

I had a lot of fun working on different parts of the project -- thinking about it initially and working to decide what issues to tackle in the book, talking to kids about what issues they find important to talk about in a book like this, engaging in researching, bouncing ideas off my editor. ... Probably the most fun part was talking to kids during the process about what they were most curious about, what they were most concerned about and having that really be a guiding sort of North Star for what I talk about in the book and treating kids with respect, and seriously, because kids have serious questions and opinions about what's happening in our world and serious ambitions about making a difference.

Are you planning a second book?

We'll see how this goes. I hope that it impacts even one kid in the way I was impacted by ... "50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth." I'll be thrilled if "It's Your World" affects even one kid in the way that "50 Simple Things" affected me.

If you go: Chelsea Clinton is at B&N Union Square Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., must buy book, 33 E. 17th St., 212-253-0810. She is at 92nd Street Y on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m., 1395 Lexington Ave., 212-415-5500, $50


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