New Voices Rising

Like many people across our country, we continue to be inspired and dazzled by the high school students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. After losing 17 of their classmates during a shooting at their school on February 14, they spoke up and spoke out, initiating a national school walkout earlier this month and launching a national protest against gun violence leading to the March For Our Lives in Washington.

These young people also have forced the usually stodgy Florida legislature to pass (at least a few) stricter gun laws and are making politicians in their own state and beyond explain their silence as gun violence continues to take lives in places meant to be preserves of safety. Unlike many adults in positions of leadership today, the Parkland students have been courageous, strong, eloquent, savvy, and witty—and their fluency in social media has certainly gotten the better of many older people who have attempted to derail their efforts.

To celebrate the Parkland students and their peers and the movement they’ve created, we’re highlighting books by young people who have something to say about the state of the world and how to make things better. While there are many such books and authors to choose from, here’s a sampling of titles that will be on a special display, called “New Voices,” at Politics and Prose. These works reflect the talent, energy, determination, and resilience of young people in America and around the world who are seeking to make change:

Krista Suh is most famous for being the founder of the Pussyhat Project, the pink-knitted “pussyhats” that were ubiquitous during the Women’s March in 2017 and have since become an icon of resistance culture. In DIY Rules for a WTF World, Suh—an artist, screenwriter, and feminist—offers her prescription for finding the courage to use one’s creativity, passion, and ideas to build and sustain meaningful social movements. Knitting patterns included!

It’s hard to imagine a more powerful, resonant, or important young voice in these times than that of Hanif Abdurraqib, whose poetry and essays present penetrating observations and critiques of modern American culture. In his new collection of previously unpublished essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Abdurraqib (as he often does) uses music as a cultural totem and delivers a poignant examination of identity, emotion, place, and the quest for justice.

Her story of being shot in the face for defying the Taliban by going to school is now well known around the world. But Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, isn’t resting on her laurels. She continues her brave quest to fight the Taliban and ensure that children around the world have the opportunity to get an education. Her book, I Am Malala, remains a classic tale of how one young woman from Pakistan became a global icon for peaceful protest.

Two writers tackle the question of how young people, especially women, distressed by the 2016 election, can get involved in politics or take action on behalf of causes they care about. In her book, A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance, Emma Gray, executive women’s editor at HuffPost, interviews women leaders and activists from a variety of political movements and comes up with her own how-to list of ways to make change. In a similar vein, the email marketing director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Amanda Litman, has written Run For Something, a handbook about running for elective office that is at once practical, inspiring, and persuasive.

For those wanting to introduce their children to women from history who have resisted and persisted in the face of daunting social, cultural, and political challenges, Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted is the picture book for you and your young kids. Older children might also enjoy Chelsea’s first book, It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, and Get Going!

We hope you’ll find inspiration in the words and voices of these young people and others who are seeking to make America a better place.

— Brad and Lissa