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Innosanto Nagara is a children's author, activist, and graphic designer. He is the author of the bestselling alphabet book A is for Activist as well as the other children's books Counting on Community, My Night in the Planetarium, and the newly released The Wedding Portrait.[1][2][3] He is also the founder of Design Action Collective.[4] According to NPR, Nagara began writing children's books upon realizing that he could not find "a fun book" that "talked about the importance of social justice."[5]

Innosanto Nagara
BornJakarta, Indonesia
OccupationWriter, Illustrator, Activist, Graphic Designer
EducationMasters in Zoology and Philosophy
Alma materUC Davis
GenreChildren's books
Notable worksA is for Activist
ChildrenArief Romero
Official website


Nagara was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, and moved to the US in 1988. He studied zoology and philosophy at UC Davis, after graduating he moved to San Francisco Bay Area, where he worked as a graphic designer for a range of social change organizations, before founding the Design Action Collective, a worker-owned cooperative design studio in Oakland, California.[6][7]

A is for Activist, Nagara’s first children’s book, was published by Seven Stories Press’ children’s imprint Triangle Square in 2013.[1] In 2015 Counting on Community was published, described by Publishers Weekly as "a counting book that celebrates active communities" and emphasized "that close-knit communities . . . have real power."[3] It was followed by My Night in the Planetarium in 2016, based on a night when Nagara and his mother hid from the police in a planetarium.[8] The Wedding Portrait is Nagara’s next book, based on the events surrounding his own wedding day, was published in October 2017.[9]


Nagara's A is for Activist has received acclaim for its "progressive message [which] has made its way into material aimed at little ones" in a particularly unique and straightforward manner.[10]

The Washington Post likewise published an interview with Innosanto Nagara in its parenting section discussing the necessity of progressive messages in young children.[11] An American Library Association review of A is for Activist took issue with the introduction of complex issues at the level of an alphabet book, pointed out that families "may need to undergo hours of explanation and long, ongoing conversations about ideas raised on every single page."[12]

Kirkus Reviews ("a difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest"), Publishers Weekly ("Nagara's vibrant digital collages hum with energy"), and the School Library Journal ("powerful concept. . . . young readers will have fun") were all appreciative of Counting on Community.[13][3][14]My Night in the Planetarium received positive reviews from Publishers Weekly, who said it was "a stirring tribute to the power of the arts to challenge injustice," and Rethinking Schools, whose Rachel Cloues said that the "engaging art, humor, and a warm, colloquial style" made it a "gift" for "helping parents and educators explain complex issues to our children."[15][8] Brandon Greene, writing for HuffPost, asked readers "what books are you using to prepare your children?"[16]


  1. ^ a b La Ferla, Ruth (2017-06-30). "Children's Primers Court the Littlest Radicals". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  2. ^ Hill, Corey (2012-11-14). "A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara". Yes! Magazine. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  3. ^ a b c "Children's Book Review: Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara". Publishers Weekly. 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  4. ^ "Design Action Collective". Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  5. ^ Lattimore, Kayla (2017-07-06). "Summer Reading for Your Woke Kid". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  6. ^ "Innosanto Nagara | A is for Activist". Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  7. ^ Lodge, Sally (2015-07-28). "Seven Stories Board Books Address Social Justice". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  8. ^ a b Cloues, Rachel (Winter 2016–2017). "My Night in the Planetarium by Rachel Cloues". Rethinking Schools. 31 (2). Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  9. ^ "The Wedding Portrait | Seven Stories Press". Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  10. ^ Hill, Corey (2012-11-21). "Grooming Your Future Activist". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  11. ^ de la Cretaz, Britni (2016-11-15). "A Q and A with Innosanto Nagara, author of social change books for kids". Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  12. ^ Lukoff, Kyle (2013-06-17). "A is for Activist". American Library Association LGBT Roundtable.
  13. ^ "COUNTING ON COMMUNITY by Innosanto Nagara". Kirkus Reviews. 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  14. ^ "Tough and Tiny | Board Book Roundup". School Library Journal. 2015-07-08. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  15. ^ "Children's Book Review: My Night in the Planetarium by Innosanto Nagara". Publishers Weekly. 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  16. ^ Greene, Brandon L. (2017-01-09). "Review - My Night in the Planetarium by Innosanto Nagara". HuffPost. Retrieved 2017-07-19.