5 Books for Young People about Protest and Social Change

5 Books for young people about social change

The news around the country about civil unrest, inequality and protest provide teachable moments with young people. Here are 5 stories from history to spark conversation:

Markel, Michelle, Melissa Sweet, and Rachel Zegar. 2013. Brave girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. (find in a library)

An illustrated account of immigrant Clara Lemlich’s pivotal role in the influential 1909 women laborer’s strike describes how she worked grueling hours to acquire an education and support her family before organizing a massive walkout to protest the unfair working conditions in New York’s garment district.


McDonough, Yona Zeldis, and Malcah Zeldis. 2002. Peaceful protest: the life of Nelson Mandela.  (find in a library)

A biography of the South African leader who became a civil rights activist, political prisoner, and president of South Africa.


Sheinkin, Steve. 2014. The Port Chicago 50: disaster, mutiny, and the fight for civil rights. (find in a library)

Presents an account of the 1944 civil rights protest involving hundreds of African-American Navy servicemen who were unjustly charged with mutiny for refusing to work in unsafe conditions after the deadly Port Chicago (Oakland, CA) explosion.


Tonatiuh, Duncan. 2014. Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation. (find in a library)

Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California


Weatherford, Carole Boston, and Jerome Lagarrigue. 2005. Freedom on the menu: the Greensboro sit-ins. (find in a library)

The 1960 civil rights sit-ins at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, are seen through the eyes of a young Southern black girl.




If you would like to support me, I will receive a small commission if you buy these and other books via Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)