Books focused on giving tools to aspiring activists and would-be protest leaders (especially directed at girls) or turning a spotlight on double standards, discrimination, or inequality are flooding the bookshelves. We’ve assembled a partial list:
Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro (Tor Teen). Oshiro runs the popular Mark Does Stuff website, where he analyzes books and media. His debut novel for young adults is an anthem for millennials raised on hashtag activism.
Art Boss by Kayla Cagan (Chronicle, Oct.). This companion to Piper Perish (Chronicle, 2017) follows the art student to New York City, where she and new friend Grace, a budding activist, wonder if art can change the world.
Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by KaeLyn Rich (Quirk, June). A how-to guide for young activists from the editor of Autostraddle, a pop culture website for queer and feminist women, which includes tips on everything from talking about issues with family to organizing direct action.
Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone (Candlewick, 2017). This companion volume to the film of the same name chronicles the story of nine girls in the developing world who seek an education to rise out of poverty.
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti (S&S, Sept.). A girl tries to outrun her demons in this novel from National Book Award finalist Caletti about the impact of gun violence, everyday sexism, rape culture, and overcoming guilt.
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Ed. by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin, 2017). Poems, stories, comics, art, and more from 44 contributors—including Roxane Gay, Mindy Kaling, and others—chart their individual paths toward finding feminism.
Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration Ed. by Rose Brock (Philomel). In a collection of personal essays about facing defeat, humiliation, and isolation with hope, a number of contemporary YA writers offer contributions, including Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, Julie Murphy, and more.
How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation Ed. by Maureen Johnson (Wednesday Books). This collection about keeping sight of hope when things feel hopeless includes contributions from authors and celebrities including Javier Muñoz, Lauren Duca, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and more.
I Have the Right To by Chessy Prout and Jenn Abelson (S&S). Prout was a freshman at a prestigious New Hampshire boarding school when a senior boy sexually assaulted her as part of a ritualized game of conquest. She tells her story of seeking justice and healing in this gut-wrenching memoir.
Just Mercy by Bryan A. Stevenson (Delacorte, Sept.). Stevenson offers a YA adaptation of his acclaimed adult bestseller examining the broken U.S. justice system.
Legacy by Jessica Blank (Putnam, Jul.). In this novel set in Washington state in the 1990s, 17-year-old Alison joins a radical environmentalist group to protect redwoods from loggers.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Roaring Brook, 2017). Texas high school student Vivian has a feminist awakening and leads her friends in a campaign to fight double standards and rampant sexism in this novel from Mathieu.
#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg (Random House Trade Paperbacks, June). The Hogg siblings, who survived the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., trace the birth of a new, student-led movement to restrict guns.
Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage Foreword by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Knopf, Sept.). Actors, activists, athletes, musicians, and teens talk about the power of persistence.
Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America Ed. by Amy Reed (Simon Pulse, Aug.). This anthology of 21 essays from major YA authors touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing into womanhood in today’s America and that coming-of-age’s intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity.
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins (S&S, Sept.). In her latest YA novel addressing tough issues, Hopkins tackles gun violence and white supremacy.
Period: Twelve Voices Tell The Bloody Truth Ed. by Kate Farrell. (Holt). In this collection, writers of various ages, race, and gender identities share stories about their periods.
Period Power by Nadya Okamoto (S&S, Oct.). Harvard student Okamoto offers a manifesto on menstruation and why we can no longer silence those who bleed.
Putting Peace First: Seven Commitments to Change the World by Eric David Dawson (Viking, Aug.). The founder of the Peace First Challenge offers young people step-by-step guidance on how to fight injustice, right wrongs, and make their communities better places to live.
The Revolution Handbook by Alice Skinner (Poppy, June). From social media activist-illustrator Skinner comes an irreverent yet instructive guide reminiscent of Wreck This Journal to help young readers think about what they can do to change the world one page at a time.
She the People Ed. by Molly Dillon (Schwartz & Wade, spring 2019). Ten young women who came of age in the Obama era explain how they were inspired to enter the world of government by his administration’s inclusive, feminist policies.
Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, and Fixing Almost Everything by Alexandra Styron (Viking, Sept.). Inspired by Abbie Hoffman’s classic Steal This Book, Styron’s primer offers how-to advice on organizing, marching, rallying, petitioning, voting with one’s wallet, volunteering, and more.
Strong Is the New Pretty: A Guided Journal Just for Girls by Kate T. Parker (Workman, Oct.). From the author and photographer of the bestselling Strong Is the New Pretty comes an interactive journal for girls to discover and celebrate their own strengths. Each page features a writing prompt addressing a girl’s sense of self, dreams, emotions, and inspirations.
The Ultimate Survival Guide to Being a Girl by Christina De Witte (Running Press, Aug.). This feminist teenage girl’s guide to body image, puberty, friendship drama, and self-care by 21-year-old Instagram comic artist (@chrostin) and recent teenager De Witte covers issues such as online harassment, discrimination, and the gender pay gap.
We Are Not Yet Equal: Challenging Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden (Bloomsbury, Sept.). Anderson’s examination of our nation’s history in White Rage is adapted for a YA audience by Bolden, an award-winning nonfiction writer for young readers.
We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai (Little, Brown, Sept.). Nobel Peace Prize-winner Yousafzai tells her story of dislocation as an Internally Displaced Person to show what it means to lose your home, your community, and the only world you’ve ever known.
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices: Words and Images of Hope Ed. by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson (Crown, Sept.). Fifty influential children’s book creators—including Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kwame Alexander—offer their own responses to the following prompt: “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?”
You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World By Caroline Paul, illus. by Lauren Tamaki (Bloomsbury). A call to arms for young activists—no matter the goal—this book shares success stories from young people who found everyday means to achieve change.
For more of the latest developments in the YA category, see our 2018 Spotlight on YA.