The 7 Best Young Adult Books For The Budding Activist In Your Life

Everyone needs a good empowering story sometimes.

Young Black woman reading Mangostar / Shutterstock

As a teen, I loved sinking my teeth into a good book that told me I could do anything.

While living at home and having adults dictate how I spent the majority of the time through school, clubs and sports, I often felt as if I had little control.

Reading a good book about other teens rising up above their position in life made me as a teen feel hopeful about my future and my own agency.

The 7 best young adult books for the budding activist in your life:

Read on for a list of YA books about activists that would be great additions to your or your loved ones' book shelves. 


1. The Hunger Games — Suzanne Collins

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I read this book during its glory days when everyone was obsessed with it, and here's the thing: this book does actually live up to its hype.

In a world where the government has complete control and exercises this control through the annual Hunger Games where one male and one female teenage from each of the 12 districts are raffled to fight to the death in an elaborate arena.


Katniss is a girl struggling to survive the poorest district, District 12, when she finds herself volunteering to be in the Games.

The author does a wonderful job at writing for teenagers while writing about such real problems when it comes to government and power.

For any existing fans, good news! Collins has just released a new book in the series called, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

RELATED: How Daily Activism Plants The Seeds Of Change

2. Divergent — Veronica Roth


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In a world governed by logic, everyone has a specific place inside their faction, it is dangerous to fit into more than one place or to be Divergent.

As all teens are giving a test to tell them which faction they belong to, Beatrice Prior gets the news that she fits into more than one.

Now It is time for her to choose if she will stay inside her faction, or to move to a different faction. I, for one, have always loved activist fantasy novels, and you will too after reading this.

3. The Hate U Give — Angie Thomas

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After witnessing the brutal death of her friend, Starr Carter’s life becomes even more confusing as she moved between living in a Black neighborhood and going to a white school.

This is a contemporary book that is extremely relevant during this time in the United States.

This book is good at giving people a glimpse of what it is really like to be Black in the United States. Check out more of Angie Thomas's work here.

RELATED: What Living With The Emotional & Physical Pain Caused By A Childhood In The U.S. Foster Care System Feels Like

4. The Book Thief — Markus Zusak

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During World War II, Liesel’s life is changed forever as she is moving into a foster home in German and begins to find her love for books, and for stealing them.

This is a must-read for historical importance alone, and I have always loved this book and have gone back to reread it a few times, and I always find something new to reflect on.

Many people I know have had this book as assigned reading for class, and have always loved reading this classic.

5. Anthem — Ayn Rand

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In a society with no individuality, where every move is made as a community, one man dares to stand out.

Equality 7-2521 wants individuality, and he has committed the darkest of sins by discovering the word “I.” 

I read this book in high school and the message of the importance of individuality has stuck with me since.

6. Yes You Can! Your Guide To Becoming an Activist — Jane Drake and Ann Love

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After every problem is erased or changed a new one pops up, environmental activists Drake and Love gives their steps to social change and stories of inspiration.

This book is a how-to book of encouragement and inspiration. Check out more work from these IRL sisters here.

7. Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration — Angie Thomas, Jason Renyolds et al. 

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From Amazon:

“Words can have different meanings and invoke different feelings. Hope can bring out different feelings depending on when it was and by whom.

This timely, relevant anthology of essays by twenty-four YA authors hope to invoke awe, inspiration, and empathy. In this personal collection of stories, each author narrates how hope is a decision they made and help inspire readers to have hope.”

Such a hopeful book and something we all could use.

RELATED: 20 Best Young Adult Books To Read In 2018


Charleigh Reid is an editorial intern at YourTango who covers news, entertainment, and more.