2020 is a big election year and as we get closer to November you might become more curious about voting, voting rights, and civic engagement. So, if any of those topics catch your interest, check out the YA books below, some of which might even be on your school summer reading lists!
*All book descriptions are from the publisher.
Every two years, media coverage of American elections turns into a horse-race story about who’s leading the polls and who said what when. Give young adult readers clear explanations about how our election process actually works, why it matters, and how they can become involved. Using real-world examples and anecdotes, this book provides readers with thorough, nonpartisan explanations about primaries, the electoral college, checks and balances, polls, fundraising, and more. Updated with statistics and details from the 2018 elections, the revised second edition will prepare the next generation of voters for what is sure to be a fascinating 2020 election cycle.
Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone
Following the Civil War, the Reconstruction era raised a new question to those in power in the US: Should African-Americans, so many of them former slaves, be granted the right to vote?
In a bitter partisan fight over the legislature and Constitution, the answer eventually became yes, though only after two constitutional amendments, two Reconstruction Acts, two Civil Rights Acts, three Enforcement Acts, the impeachment of a president, and an army of occupation. Yet, even that was not enough to ensure that African-American voices would be heard, or their lives protected. White supremacists loudly and intentionally prevented black Americans from voting — and they were willing to kill to do so.
In this vivid portrait of the systematic suppression of the African-American vote for young adults, critically acclaimed author Lawrence Goldstone traces the injustices of the post-Reconstruction era through the eyes of incredible individuals, both heroic and barbaric, and examines the legal cases that made the Supreme Court a partner of white supremacists in the rise of Jim Crow. Though this is a story of America’s past, Goldstone brilliantly draws direct links to today’s creeping threats to suffrage in this important and, alas, timely book.
Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, hoopla audiobook, and physical book.
Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Voteby Susan Zimet and Todd Hasak-Lowy
The United States of America is almost 250 years old, but American women won the right to vote less than a hundred years ago.
And when the controversial nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution-
the one granting suffrage to women-was finally ratified in 1920, it passed by a mere one-vote margin.
The amendment only succeeded because a courageous group of women had been relentlessly demanding the right to vote for more than seventy years. The leaders of the suffrage movement are heroes who were fearless in the face of ridicule, arrest, imprisonment, and even torture. Many of them devoted themselves to the cause knowing they wouldn’t live to cast a ballot.
The story of women’s suffrage is epic, frustrating, and as complex as the women who fought for it. Illustrated with portraits, period cartoons, and other images, Roses and Radicals celebrates this captivating yet overlooked piece of American history and the women who made it happen.
Drawing the Vote: The Illustrated Guide to the Importance of Voting in Americaby Tommy Jenkins and illustrated by Kati Lacker
How the history of American voting rights has shaped the way we vote today.
Coinciding with the 2020 US presidential election, Drawing the Vote, an original graphic novel, looks at the history of voting rights in the United States and how it affects the way we vote today. Throughout the book, the author, Tommy Jenkins, identifies events and trends that led to the unprecedented results of the 2016 presidential election that left American political parties more estranged than ever. To balance these complex ideas and statistics, Kati Lacker’s original artistic style makes the book accessible for readers of all ages. At a time when many citizens are experiencing challenges and apathy about voting and skepticism concerning our bitterly divided government, Drawing the Vote seeks to offer some explanation for how we got here and how every American can take action to make their vote count.
Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, hoopla ebook, and physical book.
Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone) Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.