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The arc of the moral universe

Like many people in the country, I’ve been inspired by the Florida high school students who are making impassioned calls for gun law reform in the wake of last week’s mass shooting. Rather than turning inward to process the trauma — which would make complete sense — they're using the national spotlight, social media, and their own grief-stricken voices to demand accountability and change. If the Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids didn’t think they had power before February 14, 2018, they clearly feel it now.

However...I’m worried about them. If they were my kids, after encouraging them to sleep, eat, and be good to themselves, I would want to support their efforts by offering to help them understand that affecting real change is a marathon not a sprint. These teens are motivated by righteous anger and frustration one week in, but will they be able to sustain the adrenaline rush they must be running on? Probably not, although I have no doubt that they will keep making their voices heard one way or another.

Using Jen Mason Stott's approach to communicating with young people ("Leave the books on the bed": Shaping a child's social conscience), I would encourage teen activists to look back on the experiences of previous generations who organized and bravely persevered in the fight for justice.

Here are some lists of recommended books to get started:

Young people making a difference

Recommended books on activism

Making a difference booklist

March on Washington anniversary reading

Related posts:

Five questions for Cynthia Levinson (author of We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March and The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist)

Elementary school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro's Squeaky little wheels

School media specialist Christina Dorr's Challenge your students to activism
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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