Featured Review

Books to Inspire Young Adults



At Little English Bookworm we are not just a seller of books but a passionate advocate of them as a force for social change. Placed in the hands of the generation to come, these are 3 books that we believe will make a positive difference to their lives and to the world.

It has become vitally important for me to find thought provoking, ground breaking books for young adults to read. I think this is because the older I get the more aware I am of global social injustices, discrimination by race, sex, age, beliefs…and the need to all try to make changes to improve our world. And who better than to help be the driving force? Children of course.

With this in mind, here are some excellent books to educate young adults about the inequality and unfairness that takes place and show them, through ideas, stories and facts, how we can all improve things. So, if you are a young adult, or live with, care for, or teach one, then these three books are a must read.

Here I Stand – Stories That Speak for Freedom

This is a very powerful anthology of stories and poems from contemporary authors about the rights and freedoms that are abused today all over the world. The stories and poems are very well written, poignant and inspiring. The subjects are potent but the way it has been written is very approachable for the reader and every story and poem leaves you feeling both sad but strangely optimistic.

The introduction to the book summarises wonderfully what this book tries to instill:

Every gain for human rights and those freedoms we enjoy began with one or two people recognising that something was worth fighting for, and joining with other like-minded people to make a difference.

Author: Collated by Amnesty International UK, authors include Matt Haig, Chris Riddell, John Boyne, Liz Kessler, Sarah Crossan and Chelsea Manning. Publisher: Walker Books 2016 Age group: 11+ Themes include: child abuse, immigration, having to care for infirm parents, racism, corporate negligence and bullying

Girl Up

The book I wish I had had when I was 14. Laura Bates mocks the ludicrous pressures and stereotypes faced by young women today. This is not a gentle journey through sexual discrimination and the woes of women. This is a ‘let yourself be woken up with alarm bells and a cold shower’ kind of book. So, not for the faint-hearted, but you will be delighted you bought it for yourself and any 14+ year old.

Warning: You will find yourself telling others to ‘Girl Up’!

Laura Bates introduces in this way:

This book will call it how it sees it…This book is the heroic, indomitable, slick it back, tie it up, don’t bother curling, who needs conditioner, any old elastic band will do, ponytail of books. (If books were hairstyles.) This book is the get down to business, stick it on and forget about it, ultra-absorbent, triple length, extra wings, night time use, heavy flow, who cares about the plasticky sound, sanitary towel of books. (If books were sanitary protection.)

Author: Laura Bates Publisher: Simon &Schuster UK 2016 Age group: 14+ Themes include: social media, body image, sexual preferences and mental health

Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change

We have talked about two books that highlight the blatant injustices that take place everyday all over the world, and they certainly provoke strong thoughts and feelings as well as great ideas. However, this next book shows us real stands that children have made that can inspire others.

This is an engaging collection of 30 incredible stories of children who have made inspirational changes in this world. Here’s just one example:

Jean-Dominic Levesque-Rene was 10 years old and living by a golf course in Canada when he was diagnosed with cancer. Whilst off school receiving treatment, he found a flyer about pesticides that were used on lawns to make them look nicer but which had dangerous side effects. City officials where Jean-Dominic lived were not concerned by the use. So he started protesting and campaigning at the same time as fighting cancer. And although his protest started small, he managed to stop his city council using cosmetic pesticides to keep lawns green and eventually many other councils and national departments across Canada also banned such pesticides.

Author: Collated by Garth Sunden Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing 2010 Age group: 11+ Stories of: children making changes to save the environment, standing up for theirs and other people’s rights, overcoming challenges and using their creativity.

In Summary

As the late British socialist politician Tony Benn would say, social change is a combination of two things:

the burning flame of anger at injustice and the burning flame of hope for a better world.

Change takes place by one or two people, challenging, protesting, demanding and demonstrating. These books will definitely help provide a catalyst for change with young adults by helping them see the difference they can make.


Little English Bookworm

Ophelia Gartside

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