YA Authors Model Political Activism For America’s Youth

Despite Young Adult (YA) literature finding an increasingly larger adult readership as time goes on, this category of books is still written with adolescents in mind. Many people who are unfamiliar with the variety of YA books are quick to write them off, only knowing bestsellers such as the Twilight series. However, YA books commonly offer teens perspectives on many issues that affect them and their peers, like mental health, grief, LGBTQ+, disability, and race.

The authors of these novels don’t leave their important beliefs and messages within the pages of their novels, either. Many of them are active online, interacting with their teen readers through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, and personal websites. These authors have also become incredibly vocal about politics since the 2016 Election season. This may seem strange as these teen readers are too young to vote and are often written off as not being interested in politics. However, teens are becoming increasingly politically aware as causes important to them and relevant to their lives like LGBTQ+ rights and access to birth control are put under fire. In fact, authors have tweeted about their underage fans expressing feelings of helplessness as they are powerless in affecting the legislation that will shape their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Many of these authors who have become the faces of the YA scene use their continued political outcry to model political activism to their young readers as well as guide new adults in their political firsts, such as registering to vote or finding the courage to call their representative. The myriad of methods these writers have taken to educating and speaking out against the current political situation in the U.S. shows that much like there are many ways to tell a story, there are many ways to get involved and make a difference.

Below are some standout authors who have been showing what #resist is all about:

J.K. Rowling

@jk_rowling

It’s no surprise that J.K. Rowling would have a lot to say about politics when the Harry Potter series echoes many of the political and social issues seen during World War II and today, just recast into a world of magic and wizards. This beloved British author has not only become outspoken about UK politics, namely Brexit, but tweets openly about U.S. politics. She is especially vocal about her dislike of Trump.

Rowling is also the founder and lifetime president of Lumos, a non-profit which works to help the 8 million children worldwide living in orphanages and other institutions that do not provide the care, support, and love children need to truly flourish.

 

John Green

@johngreen

New York Times best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars, John Green, has spent the past decade building a community on the internet of thoughtful, educated people who are devoted to helping “decrease world suck.” With his younger brother, Hank, they’ve built an empire of educational YouTube channels, hosted the annual Project For Awesome, and spoken openly about their political beliefs. Over the course of the 2016 Election, multiple videos were posted on their channel, vlogbrothers, where they explained different facets of the candidates’ proposed policies. John also has a series of videos about visiting Syrian refugees, and in the wake of the Muslim Ban, Hank Green donated $5 to ACLU for every picture of a pro-immigrant message that was tweeted to him. He then collaborated with artists who tweeted him to sell prints of their pro-immigrant drawings and donated the proceeds to resettlement organizations that welcome refugees to the U.S.

John and Hank Green are also founders of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, which is a nonprofit that gives money to a variety of nonprofits throughout the world to improve the lives of others.

 

Rainbow Rowell

@rainbowrowell

Author of bestsellers Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell has been incredibly active on Twitter talking about the importance of contacting representatives and other acts of political activism. She’s also outspoken about LGBTQ+ issues and supporting the press through subscriptions.

https://twitter.com/rainbowrowell/status/839305238058307584

 

Her openness about her anxiety and the tips she shares on how to engage with politics and contact representatives while struggling with social anxiety have been helpful and encouraging to many young voters.

 

Maureen Johnson

@maureenjohnson

Maureen Johnson has written many novels, most notably 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Her tweets are an excellent refuge for anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Recently, Johnson’s most significant coping mechanism is a podcast she launched with journalist Dan Sinker during the 2016 Election called Says Who?. Originally the podcast was created to help cope with the final eight weeks of the election, but has since continued past Election Day. She also does a lot of work with the vlogbrothers and helps host Project For Awesome.

The work of these authors in speaking out against our political climate takes many forms, but their message is clear both to adolescents and adults: now is the time to be politically active and there are many ways to participate, speak out, and create change.

Featured Image: Says Who? Podcast

Maggie Stough

Maggie Stough

Maggie is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and is currently trying to make the most out of post grad life (read: figuring out what she’s supposed to be doing on this planet). When she’s not having an existential crisis, you can find her working on a novel, having a cuppa, petting a dog, reading a YA novel, coloring, getting her cardio in at a concert, or quilting.
Maggie Stough