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Reading with the News: Democracy, Activism, and Protest in Teen Literature

August 11th, 2021
Categories: Action with Intention, News, Teen
Tags: , ,

2021 has not started off slowly! It has been a turbulent time in the United States. After you finish reading the news, here are some suggestions to continue your reading. All of these books are owned by the DeKalb Public Library, so request one today!

Nonfiction

Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections, by Jeff Fleischer.

Give young adult readers clear explanations about how our election process actually works, why it matters, and how they can become involved. Using real-world examples and anecdotes, this book provides readers with thorough, nonpartisan explanations about primaries, the electoral college, checks and balances, polls, fundraising, and more. Updated with statistics and details from the 2018 elections, the revised second edition will prepare the next generation of voters for what is sure to be a fascinating 2020 election cycle.

How I Resist: Activism and Hope for New Generation, edited by Maureen Johnson.

An all-star collection of essays about activism and hope, edited by bestselling YA author Maureen Johnson. Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they’re bound to inherit. They’re ready to stand up and be heard – but with much to shout about, where they do they begin? What can I do? How can I help? How I Resist is the response, and a way to start the conversation.

True or False: a CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News, by Cindy L. Otis.

In True or False, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis will take readers through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them. Then, she shares lessons learned in over a decade working for the CIA, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biases, so that we can think critically about important issues and put events happening around us into context.

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix our Government and Deliver Power to the People, by Elizabeth Rusch

The political landscape has never been so tumultuous. Americans of all ages are asking, How did we get here? The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country—especially teens! Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, You Call This Democracy? looks at flaws in the system—and offers a real way out of the mess we are in. Each chapter breaks down a different problem plaguing American democracy, exploring how it’s undemocratic, offering possible solutions (with examples of real-life teens who have already started working toward them), and suggesting ways to effect change—starting NOW!

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Young Readers Edition), by Kamala Harris (on order).

In this young readers edition of Kamala Harris’s memoir, we learn about the impact that her family and community had on her life, and see what led her to discover her own sense of self and purpose. The Truths We Hold traces her journey as she explored the values she holds most dear—those of community, equality, and justice. An inspiring and empowering memoir, this book challenges us to become leaders in our own lives and shows us that with determination and perseverance all dreams are possible.

Into the Streets: A Young Person’s Visual History of Protest in the United States, by Marke Bieschke.

Join author Marke Bieschke on this visual voyage of resistance through American history. Discover the artwork, music, fashion, and creativity of the activists. Meet the leaders of the movements, and learn about the protests that helped to shape the United States from all sides of the political spectrum. Examples include key events from women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, occupations by Native American nations, LGBTQ demands for equality, Tea Party protests, Black Lives Matter protests, and more.

Fiction

The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas.

A novel that deals with “racism, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement” (School Library Journal).

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

A Mad, Wicked Folly, by Sharon Biggs Waller.

If you enjoy historical fiction, try this YA novel about the suffragette movement in early 1900s England.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Like a Love Story, by Abdi Nazemian.

1989 NYC + love triangle + AIDS activism.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

The Voting Book: Make It Count, by Brandy Colbert.

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?


Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.


When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.

8th Grade Superzero, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

After the worst first day back *ever*, Reggie’s been nicknamed “Pukey” McKnight at his Brooklyn school. He wants to turn his image around, but he has other things on his mind as well:  his father, who’s out of a job; his best friends, Joe C. (who’s a little too White) and Ruthie (who’s a little too intense); his ex-best friend Donovan, who’s now a jerk; and of course, the beautiful Mialonie. The elections for school president are coming up, but with his notorious nickname and “nothing” social status, Reggie wouldn’t stand a chance, if he even had the courage to run.

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter. Inspired by the clients there–especially Charlie, a five-year-old kid who becomes his official “Little Buddy”― he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school. Pukey for President? It can happen . . . if he starts believing.