A revelatory investigation into how America is failing its children, and an urgent manifesto on why helping them is the best way to improve all of our lives—from the New York Times bestselling author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice

“Revolutionary and accessible . . . a powerful new way to look at American society through the lens of our children.”—Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us

At the dawn of the twentieth century, a bright new age for children appeared on the horizon, with progress on ending child labor, providing public education, combating indigence, promoting wellness, and creating a juvenile justice system. But a hundred years on, the promised light has not arrived. Today, more than eleven million American children live in poverty and more than four million lack health insurance. Each year, we prosecute thousands of kids as adults, while our schools crumble. We deny young people any political power, while we fail to act on the issues that matter most to them: racism, inequality, and climate change.

Through unforgettable stories, law professor Adam Benforado draws a vivid portrait of our neglect. We are there when Ariel is placed in an orphanage after her parents are locked away for transporting marijuana, when Harold first gazes in disbelief upon the immaculate lawn of an elite private school after a childhood of asphalt play yards, when Wylie is hit with a paddle by his public-school principal as punishment for taking a moment of silence to protest gun violence. When Tyler runs for governor at age seventeen, we are also there to witness the extraordinary capacities of young people.

Our disregard for children’s rights is not simply a moral problem; it’s also an economic and social one. The root cause of nearly every major challenge we face—from crime to poor health to unemployment—can be found in our mistreatment of kids. But in that sobering truth is also the key to changing our fate as a nation.

Drawing on the latest research on the value of early intervention, investment, and empowerment, A Minor Revolution makes the urgent case for putting children first—in our budgets and policies, in how we develop products and enact laws, and in our families and communities. Childhood is the window of opportunity for all of us.
“Adam Benforado has created a powerful new way to look at American society through the lens of our children: at once our biggest assets and our most vulnerable members. He weaves compelling real-life stories with legal and economic analysis to deliver a bracing indictment of our society’s self-sabotage. He doesn’t end there, however; his final recommendations for how to change course are both revolutionary and accessible.”—Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us

“An urgent call for us to rethink our societal priorities and start putting children first. Adam Benforado doesn’t just expose the wrongs done to kids around the world and in our own backyards—he offers a road map for righting them.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast Re:Thinking

A Minor Revolution is a major revelation. With a prosecutor’s precision and a reformer’s passion, Adam Benforado has crafted an agenda-setting book—one that offers a startling look at the present and a hopeful path for the future.”—Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Regret, Drive, and A Whole New Mind

“Adam Benforado’s accessible new book combines vividly written case studies with a comprehensive review of the latest scientific research to offer a simple but radical prescription for what ails America—put our kids first. It is a must-read for anyone of any political persuasion who is concerned with restoring the American dream of equal opportunity and upward mobility.”—Robert D. Putnam, New York Times bestselling author of Our Kids

A Minor Revolution is a gripping read and an essential companion to Heather McGhee’s The Sum of Us. Adam Benforado insightfully chronicles the never-ending cycle of intergenerational harms created from our failure to prioritize children in our public policies. Yet we are left hopeful about the future because his powerfully argued reforms are within our grasp. A Minor Revolution will forever challenge the way you think about America’s treatment of her children.”—Dorothy A. Brown, author of The Whiteness of Wealth

A Minor Revolution sounds an alarm bell we all should have heard one hundred years ago. Maybe, maybe, this time we’ll listen.”—Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children US

“A thoughtful and practical manifesto for large-scale reform . . . Benforado argues persuasively for the need to prioritize children’s welfare by the government, the law, businesses, and the community as a whole.”Kirkus Reviews

“In this persuasive and wide-ranging study, [Benforado] show[s] an urgent need to ‘put children first.’ . . . . Deeply researched and passionately argued, this is an irrefutable call for change.”Publishers Weekly