Time flies! Before we know it, we’ll be ringing in 2020. But first, the TFK team is taking a look back at 2019. Who was the most important person of the year?
Since 1927, TIME has chosen a Person of the Year. The editors choose the “person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse.” That means that the person is not necessarily a hero, and his or her impact is not always positive.
At TIME for Kids, we do it differently. First of all, you help choose. We give you a list of nominees and ask for your vote. Second, we only include people who made a positive impact on the world this year. And finally, we don’t include anyone who ran for elected office in our list of nominees. While politicians have an enormous impact, they’re not the people we want to focus on. Instead, we look for people in a wide range of disciplines and professions who broke barriers, set records, solved problems, and created opportunities.
So who do you think should win? Read on to learn about all eight nominees, then click here or at the bottom of the page to cast your vote. The poll will close on December 5, and we’ll announce the winner in mid-December. Now get to it! Every vote counts. —Andrea Delbanco, Editor-in-Chief
Since 2016, Chef JOSE ANDRES and the team at his nonprofit group, World Central Kitchen, have provided meals to survivors of hurricanes, wildfires, and other emergencies. Most agencies feed survivors prepackaged meals. But Andrés puts his kitchen expertise to use cooking fresh, hot food. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. Andrés and his team sprang into action. At press time, they had served more than 1.75 million meals there. “A hot meal represents love,” Andrés told TFK.
American gymnast SIMONE BILES, 22, continues to break records. This past summer, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist made history by becoming the first woman to successfully perform the triple-double, a double backflip with three twists. This fall, she won her 24th and 25th gold medals, at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, in Germany. She now has more world medals than any other gymnast. What does 25 gold medals mean to Biles? “It’s [more] than my age, so I’m pretty thrilled with it,” she said.
KEVIN FEIGE is the top producer behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This year, the franchise released Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far from Home. In 2019, more than $2.7 billion in box-office sales made Endgame the highest-grossing movie ever, and Black Panther was the first Marvel movie nominated for an Oscar. Feige’s Marvel movies are praised for interconnected storytelling and more-inclusive casting, including Brie Larson as Marvel’s first starring female superhero.
On May 30, eight young spellers beat the Scripps National Spelling Bee, forcing the judges to declare them cochampions. Bee rules allow for three winners. But once officials realized how good the final eight competitors were, they made an exception. “We’ll soon run out of words that will challenge you,” said the bee’s official pronouncer, Jacques Bailly. Three perfect rounds later, the OCTOCHAMPS were crowned. The spelling competition will never bee the same!
Author JASON REYNOLDS has written more than a dozen books for kids. They’ve sold millions of copies. He’s a 2019 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature (winners to be announced on November 20). In his books and in real life, Reynolds is concerned with the voices of black children and teenagers. In 2019, he made some 50 visits to classrooms and conferences. His mission: to show readers that he values their stories as much as they value his.
Dutch inventor BOYAN SLAT founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013. His goal: To get rid of plastics polluting the world’s oceans. This fall, Slat announced that the system was finally working. “I am very proud to share that we are now catching plastics,” he said on October 2. The device is being used in an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Nearly 2 trillion pieces of trash have collected there. Slat hopes to get half of the trash removed by 2025.
Swedish climate activist GRETA THUNBERG, 16, is the face of the youth movement for climate awareness. Her Fridays for Future protests have inspired millions of young people around the world to follow her lead. In August, Greta set out on a zero-emissions sail across the Atlantic Ocean to speak to world leaders at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit. She was nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize and continues to inspire people of all ages to fight for the health of Planet Earth.
In June, the U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM won its fourth title at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In doing so, the team broke the record for most wins in tournament history. Players have used their platform to highlight the issue of pay inequality. In March, they sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for discrimination, pointing out that they earn less than male soccer players. By raising their voices, the athletes encourage others to take action.