Nine recently published books for middle-grade readers feature the ways young leaders are organizing to change policies about climate change, animal rights, human rights, gun control, and more.
Several new books have come out featuring young people working for change in their communities and the world. Child leaders have emerged in almost every activist movement today. Though too young to vote, they organize, draw public attention to issues, and often can get laws and policy changed. The causes they champion directly impact the quality of their future lives. These include water rights, human rights, and especially climate change.
Here are some of the books designed to inform and encourage young readers who want to make a difference. .
The Climate Book (2023) is by 19-year-old Greta Thunberg, an internationally known and respected leader in the movement to combat climate change. This has been her focus ever since she demonstrated outside the Swedish parliament with a hand-made sign at age 15. In this book, she outlines the urgent need for accurate information and effective , and she provides both. She calls on the wisdom and knowledge of hundreds of scientists, indigenous leaders, historians, engineers, and mathematicians. Her book includes graphs and illustrations, and suggests paths for real step-by-step change. Also see Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini (2019)
We Have a Dream: Meet 30 Young Indigenous People and People of Color Protecting the Planet (2022) is by Mya-Rose Craig.” Mya-Rose, British Bangladeshi ornithologist who was awarded an honorary science degree from Bristol University at age 17. She has created “Black to Nature” camps to encourage indigenous people and people of color to fight for equal rights and environmental protection, since they are the most affected. This book profiles thirty young people around the world, including the US, who are already taking action.
Also see Young Native Activist: Growing Up in Native American Rights Movements by Aslan Tudo. Alsn is a 13 year old member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. When he was 8 and again at 11, Aslan went to South Dakota to join the protests of Lakota Sioux against construction of a oil pipeline at Standing Rock. In this book, he describes native American causes in which he continues to be active.
In Movement Makers: How Young Activists Upended the Politics of Climate change (2022), author Nicke Englefried interviews over 100 youth leaders. She tells the background story of how youth climate campaigns have drawn attention, changed the national discussion, and become a mass movement.
Saving Animals: A Future Activist’s Guide (2021), is by Catherine Kelaher, founder of New South Wales’ Hen Rescue. Her organization rehomes chickens and other animals from factory farms. This well-researched guide is full of ideas about how to protect and make the world a better place for pets, farm animals & wildlife . It includes stories of empathetic young people who are doing just that.
Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement (2018), is by the founders of March For Our Lives. On Valentine’s Day in 2018, a mass-shooter killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Surviving students channeled their grief and anger into a youth movement to end gun violence. The students of the movement provide a blueprint, showing how they took action in rallies, on social media, in voter registration drives, and with a march on Washington.
Tomorrow Begins Now: Teen Heroes Who Faced Down Injustice (2022) is by Ava Lorelei Deakin. It features stories, ranging from the 1950s to today, of 11 teens fighting for their civil rights and liberties. Their issues include school segregation, sports equality, censorship, unjust deportation, and others.
Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World (2018) is by Eric David Dawson, who at age 18 founded a non-profit called Peace First. Peace first is based on the idea that young people can change the world now. Putting Peace First is his handbook for would-be peacemakers, with step-by-step explanations of how peacemakers have achieved their goals