While many of us turn to fiction as an escape from the troubles of reality, there is also a wealth of stories out there, particularly for young adult readers, highlighting difficult truths about our society and our world.
Some of these stories may take a kernel of truth or possibility from the present and expand it into a futuristic landscape with both relatable and fantastical elements. Think The Hunger Games — can we relate to a world where the government builds arenas for brutal violence as a televised form of entertainment? Maybe not so much. But can we relate to deep divides between those experiencing poverty and those in power? And do we feel inspired by the young heroine Katniss?
On the other hand, we also have powerful books telling plain truths via stories of both fiction and nonfiction. These stories are addressing the fact that the political can be extremely personal, and the hard choices and painful experiences young people are faced often juggling day to day.
Perhaps most importantly, all of these books drive home one fact, whether they are futuristic, historical, or contemporary, fiction or pure truth: we may see teens as children who have little voice and little power, but ultimately, they do have it in them to make a statement, raise awareness, and create positive change big and small in their communities and beyond.
May these titles give inspiration to those teens who want to stay aware and engaged and perhaps prove to the adults in their lives that they can!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
White Rose by Kip Wilson
Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Internment by Samira Ahmed
No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin
We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists edited by MSD teachers Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation edited by Tim Federle and Maureen Johnson