8 Inspirational Mid-Level Books on Activism


By Margaret Dilloway, author of Five things about Ava Andrewscomes a poignant coming-of-age novel about a young amateur astronomer, environmental activism and healing, perfect for fans of national parks and sincere contemporary stories.

When the private open-air preserve adjacent to Zion National Park is sold to a construction company and his park archaeologist mother tells him it’s time for them to move on, Tuesday Beals’ search for closure, twelve years, leads to unexpected discoveries. Can Tuesday stop his world from collapsing and help save the park?

I remember, believe it or not, being a kid in college and being moved by so many books. I was a lover of the Baby-Sitters Club and also wanted a cool club to meet friends, and no one who was an avid reader as a child can forget the fabulous Sweet Valley Twins (a spin-off of the magical and fun series Sweet Valley High), which followed the trials, tribulations and adventures of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.

While these books were so much fun, I’m glad the mid-level books grew so much in terms of diverse themes and characters. I feel like, even as an adult, I turn to college-related, age-appropriate books for younger kids that have engaging themes and stories. Many even dive into the world of activism and fighting for their beliefs and their right to be themselves.

From fighting for the rights of the family to representing their beliefs, here are some fantastic mid-level novels that follow this theme to the fullest that the youngest (and even the oldest and most mature) will dig into and enjoy. Good reading!

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Reception by Kelly Yang

This delightful novel, which has won accolades and awards, is a definite addition to your new pile of books on youth activism.

The book follows the story of Mia, an immigrant who has a secret from others. She currently lives at the Calivista Motel where her parents are employed and spends her days working at the front desk. While her immigrant parents clean the hotel rooms, they also have a secret: they hide immigrants and give them rooms for free, so they can gain a foothold in America. They try to hide this from the not-so-nice Mr. Yao, as they provide these rooms for those who need them. Also, Mia dreams of being a writer and using her voice for good, even though English is not her first language. Will she be able to follow her dreams, help her parents in their current project and protect herself from Mr. Yao? You’ll have to grab this one to find out.

Mia’s character is full of heart and courage, so this is definitely a great book to hang on to that features some powerful themes.

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Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington

This book tackles the real subject of girls menstruating in middle school, the sometimes difficult experience, and how other kids can come together to help each other.

In the novel, a young journalist named Riley Dunn dreams of following her aspirations as an investigative reporter at her school newspaper. She is also a member of the Red Club, which helps tweens survive their periods, as they hide supplies and even give each other clothes (like comfy pants) in case of an emergency if needed. But one day the club is randomly shut down, so Riley decides to take the matter into his own hands so they can get the club back up and running. She also sees it as a chance to make a difference as a budding young journalist.

As a teacher myself, I also like that it has a journalistic aspect, as well as driven characters.

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Something to say by Lisa Moore Ramée

This book presents interesting themes, such as finding your voice and overcoming insecurities and shyness.

In the book, Jenae is a super shy 11-year-old girl who has no friends and seems fine with living on her own. She has a good support system at home which includes her mother, older brother and grandfather, who are always there for her. Then, one day, a cheerful boy named Aubrey shows up, and this guy seems determined to win her friendship. There’s one thing, though: Aubrey dreams of being on the debate team, and Jenae definitely isn’t. When they’re paired up for a class debate over a proposed name change for their school, Jenae realizes she may have to work up the courage to stand in front of a group after all.

This book promises moments any tween can relate to, when it comes to finding the strength to find your voice and lift yourself up after all.

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Dress code by Carrie Firestone

This book has the perfect story for middle schoolers looking to showcase their thoughts and inspire change.

Molly Frost is angry, because all of her friends have a dress code at her college of shorts, tank tops, and other types of clothing deemed “inappropriate” at school. Feeling frustrated with the whole situation, Molly makes the decision to start a podcast where the girls at school, including her friends, can tell their own stories about the dress code and their feelings about it, especially how whose daughters and their appearance should not be considered. a distraction. Unbeknownst to her, she is creating the whole revolution in school and beyond.

As a teacher, as I mentioned before about myself, this is a hot topic that children, especially girls, go through on a daily basis, so it’s definitely an activist read that deserves to be added to your list.

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

This mid-level historical fiction book features the story of Stella, who lives and survives trouble in the separated south in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina.

The immersive tale follows Stella, who has learned to live her life with many limitations, such as which stores she can enter, who is nice (and who isn’t), and how to avoid the Ku Klux Klan. One day, the Klan appears in her area, and she and her younger brother witness something terrible. Angry and finished with this type of situation and open prejudice, she decides to fight for what is right and inspire her community at the same time.

This wonderful book can teach serious history to younger children, while telling a story from the past that we can all learn from at the same time.

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Take back the block by Chrystal D. Giles

This book follows a young boy determined to fight gentrification in his tight-knit community where he has lived his entire life.

Wes Henderson is a very stylish and proud kid who lives his life in the Kensington Oaks community. One day, his peaceful bubble is shattered when he learns that a real estate developer wants to buy the estate, and suddenly his friends are quarreling and the adults are stressed. Wes wants to help as much as he can, to make sure his community stays intact. He wants his friends to stay close and those he loves not to have to move, breaking up their very close neighborhood.

Filled with themes that range from relationships and their struggles to uniting to fight for your people and your place, this is a book to read as soon as possible.

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Justice makes the difference by Dr. Artika R. Tyner

This book follows an inspired tween by her grandmother who also wishes to inspire others.

In the story, Justice is inspired by her grandmother’s powerful words, which include lessons on how words and actions can still affect others. The book then explores Justice and her efforts to become her own superhero, though she doubted she was too young to do so. She reads and learns from other world changers and dreams of finally becoming “Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire”, a superheroine with a law degree who has an afro and lots of inspiration and drive.

Full of themes that include strength and inspiration, this is the perfect book to hand out to kids who dream of changing themselves.

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uncle and me book by Uma Krishnaswami

This adorable book promises a touching story, with colorful illustrations by illustrator Julianna Swaney.

The story follows Yasmin, who likes to borrow books from Book Uncle whenever she can. Book Uncle is actually a retired teacher, who spreads literacy through a free lending library he started on a street corner in the Yasmin community. Yasmin is upset when the mayor tries to shut down the book lending library, as she feels it imparts knowledge and joy to herself and others. Yasmin decides to take matters into her own hands. Putting aside fears of not being able to make a difference at such a young age, she brings together friends, family members and other community book lovers who want to keep the little book library alive.

I love the relevance of this story, especially in a time when others are trying to ban amazing books, and I love that it presents a story full of book love and reading.

What other books on youth activism are you looking forward to or currently enjoying? Do you have any recommendations? Tweet me @AuroraMiami and have fun stacking your TBR with these stories!

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