Raised to be an activist, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton has a new book encouraging kids to follow in her footsteps
The first thing Chelsea Clinton learned to read was the newspaper. So maybe it’s not surprising that one of the first things she did when she learned to write was pen a letter – complete with rainbow heart stickers – to then-President Ronald Reagan.
When she was 5.
“Dear Mr. President, I have seen the Sound of Music: the Nazis don’t look like very nice people,” Clinton wrote almost flawlessly in the summer of 1985, before she even started kindergarten. “Please don’t go to their cemetary (sic).”
A photocopy of the letter, which her father, former President Bill Clinton, made and saved for her, appears in her first book, It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!, a primer for middle-schoolers on issues like poverty, health care and wildlife conservation – and how they can get involved in making a difference in the world. (She reiterated the contents of the letter during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden Wednesday night.)
In an interview in advance of the book’s Sept. 15, 2015 release, Clinton told PEOPLE what her father didn’t photocopy for posterity – the sheet of stickers she enclosed along with her letter to the White House.
“I had sent my favorite heart and rainbow stickers along with my letter, as a gesture of good will to President Reagan so that, hopefully, he would take me seriously.”
In her book, Clinton writes that she was voicing her opposition to Reagan’s announced plans to visit the Bitburg cemetery in Germany because Nazis were buried there. “I didn’t think an American president should honor a group of soldiers that included Nazis. President Reagan still went, but at least I had tried in my own small way.”
After she mastered using her morning newspaper-reading to “help hide how much honey I poured on top of my Cheerios” (because mom Hillary didn’t allow sugary cereals, Clinton writes), the then-future First Daughter graduated to books – the most memorable being, when she was 10 or 11, 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.
“It helped me understand climate change and what was happening in the world. But also, it was so empowering to me because it said that I could do something about it,” says Clinton, adding that she is still religious about following that book’s direction on recycling, printing on both sides of paper and cutting up the plastic soda bottle rings that can choke dolphins.
“I hope that my book,” she says, “has a similar impact on even one kid in the way that 50 Simple Things had on me.”