German educator Kurt Hahn wrote, “Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world.” Recent tragic events have shown us the courage of teens who are prepared to go out and demonstrate for what they believe is right—and while education may not always live up to this high ideal, books are always there to help fill the gaps.
Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration,edited by Rose Brock, will nurture teens’ zeal for justice. Essays by diverse young adult authors offer a glimpse into many types of personal struggles and specific ways to meet these challenges. Whether it’s Renée Ahdieh reflecting on her biracial, bicultural identity and her responses to casual racism in the past and the present or Jeff Zentner writing more generally about how we can respond when those “who lack empathy in their hearts…use their positions of power to persuade frightened people to place the blame for their fears at the feet of people who have less power,” there is something in this book that will strike a chord and touch a nerve.
The slim but powerful volume How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation,edited by Maureen Johnson, asks notable contributors to share specific advice for those who wish to make an impact. An interview with Jason Reynolds includes his thoughts on ways that youth today are more open to difference than he was as a young man and the hope he gains daily from getting to be among young people. Alex Gino writes about the inner sustenance we require to have the energy to continue to resist and ways to build community and interdependence to meet this need. Laura Simeon is the young adult editor.