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Rebels with a Cause: 8 Books to Inspire Young Adults, Part II

Politics around the world reflect a resounding dissatisfaction with the status quo. Candidates from both ends of the political spectrum describe themselves as anti-establishment, and they are doing their best to disrupt social and political norms. How can teens and young adults find and fight for the change they believe in?

You don’t have to be of voting age to make a difference: the best way to wield influence and challenge rules is with an informed opinion. Here are eight books (and two websites!) to get you started –no ID required. First, get informed, then, take action.

Inequality and the 1%

The first book to start getting informed:

From the UK to the US, Australia to Ireland, the rich just keep getting richer while the poor are barely hanging on. Social analyst Dorling walks readers through the staggering and ever-increasing wealth inequality, and the impact that being outside of that 1% has on life expectancy, education and work prospects, and mental health. It’s statistics-heavy, but the numbers make the case for movements such as Occupy. While it is a book to make you angry, Inequality does offer up a few alternatives, using examples from more egalitarian societies such as Sweden and Japan.

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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

A professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, Taylor is well-equipped to identify the persistent racism and structural inequality that have given rise to the emerging movement for Black liberation. Taylor examines mass incarceration, Black unemployment, police violence, life under the country’s first Black president and more, to give context to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the struggle for freedom for all. Incisive, analytical, and highly readable.

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Freedom Is A Constant Struggle

In this collection of essays, interviews and speeches, Davis links resistance against oppression from around the globe and across time. The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent riots, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict all get time in this volume, which examines how the intersection of race, gender and class shape our world.

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The Establishment

Jones investigates the shadowy connections between Westminster politicians, right-wing media and London financiers, revealing how the very people who are meant to work for the public good are often working against it instead. Published in 2015, the book ends on a hopeful note that was counteracted by the reality of the 2016 Brexit vote, but it remains an informative and worthwhile read. Although The Establishment is not specifically aimed at the young adult market, it was selected as a teen book club read by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

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When We Fight, We Win

And...to start taking action:

Integrating stunning artwork from AgitArte, When We Fight gathers wisdom from the leaders of social movements including same-sex marriage, #BlackLivesMatter, the DREAM Act, the People’s Climate March, End the New Jim Crow, Occupy Wall Street, and the fight for a $15 minimum wage. Lessons learned are shared, providing insight to social activists today on what helps—and what hinders—in the fight for justice.

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Be a Changemaker

Are you a teen who has become passionate about a cause? Or a high schooler with a service-learning requirement that you want to make meaningful? Be a Changemaker is a toolkit for teens who want to make a difference in the world, providing both ideas and inspiration about how to get others to care about the causes that matter. With lessons on researching ideas, building a team, recruiting adults, fundraising and more, this book empowers young adults to become social entrepreneurs.

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The Teen Guide to Global Action

This guide takes a worldview on the power of young adults to enact social change, sharing stories of youth from over 30 countries who have taken action on local and global concerns. Lewis identifies seven key issues—human rights, education, hunger and homelessness, health and safety, environment and conservation, youth representation, and peace and friendship—and provides examples and advice on how to turn concern into a commitment.

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The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Scheduled for release on August 29, 2017, this upcoming book promises to guide readers through the steps for an urgently-needed economic, environmental, health care, and social justice revolution. Sanders lays out the US political system, provides tips on how to work to change the system, and guides readers on how to organize around causes they care about.

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And, for more resources on how to engage in social movements, check out:

The Freechild Project, offering training, technical assistance and resources to youth interested in social justice issues.

The Resistance Manual, an open-source platform and collective resource for communities who believe in equity and justice. Issues covered include policing, healthcare, immigration, housing, foreign policy and much, much more.

For more books check out The Human Experience: 8 Books to Inspire Young Adults, Part I


Reader, writer, globetrotter. Seattle native who has lived in six countries (current home: New York). Food obsessed. Bylines in NPR, Wall Street Journal, Vice MUNCHIES, Budget Travel and more.