Credit: Courtesy

“You can’t change the world unless you know about it.” It’s a simple idea, yet today it faces resistance from multiple directions. In Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF Is Going On in the World Today, teen newsletter sensation Olivia Seltzer gives her peers in Generation Z the knowledge they need to embrace change and create the kind of world in which they yearn to live.

Olivia Seltzer | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Seltzer began writing her newsletter, The Cramm, in 2017, when she was just 12 years old. Shocked by the results of the 2016 election and frightened for the many Latinx families she went to school with here in Santa Barbara, Seltzer saw that kids cared a lot about things like the potential deportation of their undocumented parents. The palpable absence of news awareness among her peers sent Seltzer to her room and computer, where she began researching, writing, and publishing a daily briefing that translated world and national news stories into the Gen Z vernacular.

The Cramm succeeded far beyond Seltzer’s expectations, and soon she had a global readership that relied on her for their daily dose of understanding. By focusing on her audience and responding to their feedback, Seltzer discovered that to understand current events, teens needed background information — lots of it. 

Cramm This Book is an impressive attempt to remedy this situation. In four sections and 29 short chapters, Seltzer communicates the gist of an extensive range of subjects. From ableism to xenophobia, and from the Cold War to the Arab Spring, she gives teens the information they need to understand what they see in today’s news based on where these conflicts and issues originated. Although Cramm This Book, with its “deets” and “WTFs,” clearly targets a younger audience, adults will also enjoy and appreciate the perspective it articulates. 

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on April 26, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at


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