Children and Teen Recommendations

Social and Protest Movement Books for Kids and Teens Compiled by the A-Z Library at Occupy Boston November, 2011

Ages 0-4

Cronin, D., & Lewin, B. (2000). Click, clack, moo: Cows that type. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: When Farmer Brown’s cows find a typewriter in the barn they start making demands, and go on strike when the farmer refuses to give them what they want.

Diesen, D., & Dockray, T. (2010). The barefooted, bad-tempered baby brigade. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.  A group of babies stages a “protest crawl,” in which they make their list of demands known to their parents in no uncertain terms.

Parr, T. (2004). The peace book. New York: Little, Brown.  A simple book that talks about the different definition of peace. Peace is keeping the environment clean, peace is being free, peace is sharing a meal. Basic lines to teach the young ones about solidarity.

Ages 4-8

Brown, M., Cepeda, J. & Valencia, C. (2010). Side by side: the story of Dolores Huerta and César Chávez/Lado a lado: la historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez. New York: Rayo.  Bilingual book that tells the story of Dolores Huerta and César Chávez, activists that fought for migrant farm workers rights. Together, along others, they worked to organized farm workers into unions and advocate for better pay and fair working conditions.

ohn, D., & Delgado, F. (2002). Sí, se puede! = Yes, we can!: Janitor strike in L.A. El Paso, Tex: Cinco Puntos Press.  When Carlitos’s mother and the other cleaners go on strike for higher wages, Carlitos cannot think of a way to support his mother until he sees her on television making a speech, and then he gets his class to help him make a sign to show his pride.

Curtis, P. (1981). Invasion of the brain sharpeners. New York: Knopf.  Extraterrestrial beings attempt to sharpen the brains of children in a school One child resists.

Johnson, A., & Velasquez, E. (2005). A sweet smell of roses. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  A stirring yet jubilant glimpse of the youth involvement that played an invaluable role in the Civil Rights movement. There’s a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice.

Johnson, J. C., & Sadler, S. L. (2010). Seeds of change: Planting a path to peace. New York: Lee & Low Books.  A biography of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai, a female scientist who made a stand in the face of opposition to women’s rights and her own Greenbelt Movement, an effort to restore Kenya’s ecosystem by planting millions of trees.

Kurusa, Doppert, M., & Englander, K. (1994). The streets are free. Toronto: Annick Press.  This book is based on the true story of the children of the barrio of San Jose de la Urbina in Caracas, Venezuela. Although the mayor promises the children a playground, they realize that they must build it themselves. And they do just that.

Landowne, Y. (2004) Selavi: That is Life: a Haitian story of hope. El Paso, TX: Cinco  Puntos Press.  A homeless boy living on the streets of Haiti joins other street children and together they form a community of hope.

Lionni, L. (1963). Swimmy. New York: Pantheon.  A little black fish along with a school of red fishes unite and collaborate to defeat one big fish.

McCully, E. A. (1996). The bobbin girl. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.  A ten-year-old bobbin girl working in a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1830s, must make a difficult decision-will she participate in the first workers’ strike in Lowell?

Mulder, M. (2007). Maggie and the chocolate war. Toronto: Second Story Press.  In a book based on a true story, Maggie spearheads a children’s protest movement in 1947 when the price of chocolate bars rises from five cents to eight cents, making them too expensive for most of Canad a’s youth.

Tafolla, C. and Tenayuca, S. (2008) That’s Not Fair?/¡No Es Justo!: Emma Tenayuca’s struggle for justice/La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia. San Antonio TX: Wings Press.  Picture book biography of Mexican American activist and union organizer Emma Tenayuca who led a successful strike for the rights of oppressed pecan shellers.

Weatherford, C. B., & Lagarrigue, J. (2005). Freedom on the menu: The Greensboro sit-ins. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.  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.

Ages 8-12

Barshaw, R. M. N. (2008). Ellie McDoodle: New kid in school. New York, NY: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books.  Ellie writes and doodles in a journal of her family’s move to a new home and her struggle to make friends, which gets a lot easier as she leads a nonviolent protest about long lunch lines at school.

Beard, D. B., & Maione, H. H. (2009). Annie Glover is not a tree lover. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.  When her grandmother chains herself to the tree across from the school to save it from being cut down, fourth-grader Annie wants to die of humiliation, but when she discovers the town’s history, her attitude changes.

Brandeis, G. (2010). My life with the Lincolns. New York: Henry Holt and Co.  In 1966 Illinois, twelve-year-old Wilhelmina, convinced that she, her parents, and sisters are Abraham Lincoln’s family reincarnated, determines to keep them from suffering the same fates, which is complicated when she and her father become involved in the civil rights movement.

Dash, J. (1996). We shall not be moved: the women’s factory strike of 1909. New York: Scholastic.  Story of and important event in United States’ women labor movement. Around 30,000 young women went on strike for better working conditions.

French, S. T. (2009). Operation Redwood. New York: Amulet Books.  In northern California, Julian Carter-Li and his friends old and new fight to save a grove of redwoods from an investment company that plans to cut them down.

Goldin, B. D., & Watling, J. (1992). Fire!: The beginnings of the labor movement. London, England: Viking.  In 1911 Rosie becomes involved in the struggle for better working conditions in factories when fire rips through the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, where her older sister Freyda is employed.

Katz, W. L., & Crawford, M. (1989). The Lincoln Brigade: A picture history. New York: Atheneum . Recounts the story of the American contingent which joined other International Brigades in fighting with the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War.

Krensky, S., & Fulweiler, J. (1994). The iron dragon never sleeps. New York: Delacorte Press.  In the summer of 1867, ten-year-old Winnie, whose father works as a mining engineer for the Central Pacific Railroad, finds her life changed by her meeting with the young tea carrier Lee Cheng, one of the striking Chinese immigrant laborers.

Lyon, G. E., & Cardinale, C. (2011). Which side are you on?: The story of a song. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press.  Which Side Are You On? tells the story of a song which was written in 1931 by Florence Reece in a rain of bullets. Florence’s husband Sam was a coal miner in Kentucky. Miners went on strike until they could get better pay, safer working conditions,  and health care. The company hired thugs to attack the organizers like Sam Reece. Writer George Ella Lyon tells this hair-raising story through the eyes of one of Florence’s daughters, a dry-witted pig-tailed gal, whose vantage point is from under the bed with her six brothers and sisters.

Macdonald, F., & Antram, D. (2009). You wouldn’t want to be a suffragist!: A protest movement that’s rougher than you expected. New York: Franklin Watts.  Get ready…it’s the 1920s, and more and more women around the world are being given the right to vote. But women have not always had it so good. Let your great aunt Edith and her cousin Mabel tell you what it was like to be a suffragist.

Myers, W. D. (2000). Malcolm X: a fire burning brightly. New York: Amistad.  Picture book biography of Malcolm X, both accurate and well done .

Paterson, K. (2006). Bread and roses, too. New York: Clarion Books.  Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Pinkney, A. D., & Pinkney, J. B. (2010). Sit-in: How four friends stood up by sitting down. New York: Little, Brown.  This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Timberlake, A. (2006). That girl Lucy Moon. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.  A young activist takes up a new cause for sledding rights on Wiggins Hill.

Wallace, R. (2011). War & watermelon. New York: Viking Childrens Books.  As the summer of 1969 turns to fall in their New Jersey town, twelve-year-old Brody plays football in his first year at junior high while his older brother’s protest of the war in Vietnam causes tension with their father.

Weatherford, C. B. (2007). Birmingham, 1963. Honesdale, Pa: Wordsong.  Describes the feelings of a fictional character who witnessed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

White, L. (2005). I could do that: Esther Morris gets women the vote. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States.

Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One crazy summer. New York: Amistad.  In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp. Ages 12+

Alsenas, L. (2008). Gay America: Struggle for equality. New York: Amulet Books.  Milestones of gay and lesbian life in the United States are brought together in the first-ever nonfiction book on the topic published specifically for teens. Profusely illustrated with period photographs, first-person accounts offer insight as each chapter identifies an important era, this overview gives a balanced look at how queer men and women have lived, worked, played–and fought to overcome prejudice and discrimination–for the past 125 years.

Galt, M. F. (2000). Stop this war!: American protest of the conflict in Vietnam. Minneapolis, Minn: Lerner Publications.  A social history of the protest by United States citizens against the Vietnam War, from the days of the first American involvement in Vietnam in the early 1960s through the 1970s.

Haddix, M. P. (2007). Uprising. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  In 1927, at the urging of twenty-one-year-old Harriet, Mrs. Livingston reluctantly recalls her experiences at the Triangle  Shirtwaist factory, including miserable working conditions that led to a strike, then the fire that took the lives of her two best friends, when Harriet, the boss’s daughter, was only five years old. Includes historical notes.

Hill, L. C. (2007). America dreaming: How youth changed America in the sixties. New York, N.Y: Little, Brown & Co.  Uses art, music, protest posters, and sixties lingo to show how young Americans played a role in the social movements of the 1960s.

January, B. (2003). Globalize it!: The stories of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and those who protest. Brookfield, Conn: Twenty-First Century Books.  Surveys globalization through an examination of the groups that both support and protest this political and economic movement.

Johnson, T. R. (2007). Red Power: The Native American civil rights movement. New York: Chelsea House.  Examines the rise of the Native American civil rights movement and the subsequent events that led up to the occupation of the village of Wounded Knee, South Dakota by members of the American Indian Movement.

Kerns, A. (2011). Who will shout if not us?: Student activists and the Tiananmen Square protest, China, 1989. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.  In the spring of 1989, university students in Beijing grabbed world headlines with a courageous stand against decades of Communist authoritarian rule in China. Thousands and then millions of students and workers from all over China gathered on the city’s Tiananmen Square to support demands for democracy, clean government, and increased personal freedoms.

Lewis, B. A. (2008). The teen guide to global action: How to connect with others (near & far) to create social change. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Pub.  Tells the stories of inspiring change-makers and provides practical tools you can use to get involved.

Lynch, J. N. (2005). Peace is a four-letter word. Berkeley, Calif: Great Valley Books.  When high school student Emily Rankin meets a radical English teacher, the popular cheerleader begins to question her own basic values, the war in Iraq, and the direction her future will take.

Meltzer, M. (1985). Ain’t gonna study war no more: The story of America’s peace seekers. New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row.  Presents a history of pacifism and those who have protested against war, concentrating on war resistance in the United States, from colonial days up to the current movement against nuclear arms.

Pausewang, G. (1995). Fall-out. Viking Juvenile.  The story of Janna, a girl that loses her family to a radioactive cloud after a nuclear fall-out in Germany. She moves with her aunt to work on various anti-nuclear causes.

Qualey, M. (1994). Come in from the cold. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.  In 1969 the Vietnam War protest movement brings together two Minnesota teenagers.

Sanchez, A. (2001). Rainbow boys. New York: Simon & Schuster.  Three high school seniors, a jock with a girlfriend and an alcoholic father, a closeted gay, and a flamboyant gay rights advocate, struggle with family issues, gay bashers, first sex, and conflicting feelings about each other.

Stefoff, R., & Zinn, H. (2007). A young people’s history of the United States. New York: Seven Stories Press.  A history of the United States from its beginnings to the early twenty-first century, as told from the point of view of ordinary people, including slaves and Native Americans, to reveal the violence, racism, and injustices which occurred during key events.

Look for these titles at your local library!  Check to see where they are available.

International Digital Children’s Library – This diverse collection of books in many languages is a rare and delightful place to visit!



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