9 Essential Books to Inspire Young Activists

Activism is in the air. Kids are hearing about marches and protests, boycotts and fundraising campaigns for all kinds of causes, from local to global. And increasing numbers of children’s books are showing kids and teens how it’s done.

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From stories of the authors’ own activist experiences to how-to guides with tips on everything from organizing a rally to using social media to get the word out, these books offer a glimpse into the planning and passion that go into youthful activism.

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Written by Malala Yousafzai; illustrated by Kerascoet

You can't ask for a better female role model than young Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, and this picture book autobiography's a perfect introduction.

Recommended for ages 5 and older. (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017)

What Can a Citizen Do?

Written by Dave Eggers; illustrated by Shawn Harris

This book is a rhythmic, rhyming call for kids to be good citizens. The kids pictured are a diverse crew that includes African Americans and a girl in a hijab. It promotes values of helping your neighbor, "doing something for another" and not always thinking of yourself.

Recommended for ages 5 and older. (Chronicle Books, 2018)

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

By Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

This is a fabulous compilation of 30 pieces created by authors and illustrators of different backgrounds, each offering advice, guidance and reassurance for kids living in turbulent times.

Recommended for ages 8 and older. (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018)

Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!

By Marley Dias

This upbeat, encouraging and inspirational advice book will get big kids and tweens thinking about how their voices matter and how they can bring about positive changes they're passionate about.

Recommended for ages 9 and older. (Scholastic Press, 2018)

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women

Written by Kate Schatz; illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

With this enjoyable collection of short profiles of amazing girls, the creators of the popular Rad Women books hope to inspire young readers to find ways they want to change the world for the better.

Recommended for ages 10 and older. (Ten Speed Press, 2018)

You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World

Written by Caroline Paul; illustrated by Lauren Tamaki

Brimming with energy, this lively how-to will encourage kids to feel powerful enough to change the world and take them step by step through fighting the good fight. You Are Mighty will inspire a sense of activism and the confidence that comes from empowerment.

Recommended for ages 10 and older. (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018)

#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line

By David Hogg and Lauren Hogg

This compelling memoir and manifesto from two Parkland shooting survivors shows how teens responded to a tragedy in their community by standing up and demanding that adults in power do something to prevent it from happening again. The usual "thoughts and prayers" from politicians was not enough for them—they demanded action.

Recommended for ages 12 and older. (Random House, 2018)

How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation

By Maureen Johnson

How I Resist is a diverse collection of liberal voices offering inspiration and concrete advice on how teens can make their voices heard—and their presence felt—both close to home and on a broader platform.

Recommended for ages 13 and older. (Wednesday Books, 2018)

Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution

Written by Kaelyn Rich; illustrated by Giulia Sagramola

Girls Resist! is a practical, highly detailed how-to for girls who want to be part of (or lead) a grassroots social justice campaign. The book covers everything from how to pick a cause and create a campaign plan to organizing a rally, lobbying officials, writing presses releases, finding volunteers and running effective meetings. A must-read for every teen activist.

Recommended for ages 14 and older. (Quirk Books, 2018)

For more books about peaceful protest, check out Common Sense Media’s Civil Rights Books and Books with Stories of Extraordinary Women.

Common Sense Media
Tinybeans Voices Contributor

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.


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