Recommended Reading: 5 Books for Aspiring Activists

Do all the recent events have you thinking about what you can do and and how you can make your community - and our world - a better place? Check out these books for inspiration and practical action you can take.

 
 

Shannon Watts was a stay-at-home mom folding laundry when news of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary flashed across the television screen. In one moment, she went from outraged to engaged and decided to do something about it. What started as a simple Facebook group to connect with other frustrated parents grew into Moms Demand Action, a national movement with millions of supporters and a powerful grassroots network of local chapters in all 50 states. Shannon has been called "the NRA’s worst nightmare”—and her army of moms have bravely gone up against the gun lobby, showing up in their signature red shirts, blocking the hallways of congress with their strollers, electing gun sense candidates and running for office themselves, proving that if the 80 million moms in this country come together, they can put an end to gun violence.

Fight Like a Mother is the incredible account how one mother’s cry for change became the driving force behind gun safety progress. Along with stories of perseverance, courage, and compassion, Watts shines a light on the unique power of women—starting with what they have, leading with their maternal strengths, and doubling down instead of backing down. While not everyone can be on the front lines lobbying congress, every mom is already a multi-tasking organizer, and Shannon explains how to go from amateur activist to having a real impact in your community and beyond. Fight Like a Mother will inspire everyone—mothers and fathers, students and teachers, lawmakers, and anyone motivated to enact change—to get to work transforming hearts and minds and passing laws that save lives.

 

 
 

Rebel girls, young activists, and other trailblazing tweens and teens will be inspired by the stories of 40 women who have changed the world for the better. Mini-biographies of unstoppable women activists—from Malala Yousafzai to Susan B. Anthony, Emma Gonzalez to Gloria Steinem, Wangari Maathai to Dolores Huerta—offer windows into what it takes to stand up for a cause, rally others together, and even ignite a movement. The book features activists from around the world and throughout history, spotlighting impressive women who have fought for workers' safety, women's rights, racial equality, animal welfare, democracy, environmental causes, and more. Each story reminds readers that they really can make a difference in the world and inspires today's young activists to stand up for what they believe in. 

 
 

Are you ready to take action and make your voice heard, but don't know how to go about it? This hands-on, hit-the-ground-running guide delivers lessons on practical tactics for navigating and protecting one's personal democracy in a gridlocked, heavily surveilled, and politically volatile country. If you want to start making a difference but don’t know what to do next, Road Map for Revolutionaries provides the resources needed to help you feel safer, more empowered, invested in, and intrinsic to the American experiment. The book addresses timely topics such as staying safe at protests, supporting marginalized communities, online privacy, and how to keep up the fight for the long term, breaking down key issues and outlining action steps for local, state, and federal levels of government. 

 

 
 

In Reclaiming Our Space, social worker, activist, and cultural commentator Feminista Jones explores how Black women are changing culture, society, and the landscape of feminism by building digital communities and using social media as powerful platforms. As Jones reveals, some of the best-loved devices of our shared social media language are a result of Black women’s innovations, from well-known movement-building hashtags (#BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, and #BlackGirlMagic) to the now ubiquitous use of threaded tweets as a marketing and storytelling tool. For some, these online dialogues provide an introduction to the work of Black feminist icons like Angela Davis, Barbara Smith, bell hooks, and the women of the Combahee River Collective. For others, this discourse provides a platform for continuing their feminist activism and scholarship in a new, interactive way.

 
 

Inspired by Abbie Hoffman's radical classic, Steal This Book, author Alexandra Styron's stirring call for resistance and citizen activism will be clearly heard by young people who don't accept "it is what it is. Organized into three sections: The Why, The What, and The How, the book opens with a personal essay and a historic look at civil disobedience and teenage activism in America. That's followed by a deep dive into several key issues: climate change, racial justice, women's rights, LGBTQIA rights, immigration, religious understanding, and intersectionality. Each chapter is introduced by an original full-page comic and includes a summary of key questions, interviews with movers and shakers--from celebrities to youth activists--and spotlights on progressive organizations. The book's final section is packed with how-to advice on ways to engage, from group activities such as organizing, marching, rallying, and petitioning to individual actions like voting with your wallet, volunteering, talking with relatives with different viewpoints, and using social activism to get out a progressive message. 


Gina Warner