Peace and Justice Books for Teens

Ain’t Gonna Study War No More: The Story of America’s Peace Seekers, by Milton Meltzer, Random House, 2002.  This book provides an authoritative and readable history of the peace movement and nonviolent resistance in America.  As each generation seeks to understand and respond to the violence of its time, this historical perspective gains relevance for a new group of readers.  Grades 8-12.

Atticus Weaver and His Triumphant Leap From Outcast to Hero and Back Again, by Alexandra Powe Allred, Perfection Learning Center, 2002. A young wheel-chair bound boy contemplates life in junior high and his status as an "outcast" among his peers. His enemy is the popular school Jock, who bullies him around. There are plenty of twists and turns as Atticus turns "hero" to save his enemy from a crime he did not commit. Grades 6-10.

Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2004. At Rucher High, the new kid, Jinsen, is called "Buddha Boy" and considered a freak. When the book's narrator, Justin, has to work with Jinsen on a class project, he dreads it.  The discovery of Jinsen's artistic talent, however, leads to a friendship that changes both boys forever. Grades 6-10.

Chernowitz! by Fran Arrick, Signet, 1983. Ninth grader Bobby Cherno is targeted by Emmett, a bully who displays anti-Semitic behavior and calls Bobby "Chernowitz." What begins with one bully soon becomes a tormenting campaign of prejudice and hatred during which Bobby's friends turn into enemies. After a cross is burned on his front lawn and the family car is defaced with a swastika, Bobby decides it is time to fight back. Grades 8-11.

The Courage to Be Yourself, Edited by Al Desetta, Free Spirit Publishing, 2005. True stories by teens about cliques, conflicts, and overcoming peer pressure. A leader's guide to this book is also available. Grades 7-12.

The Enemy has a Face, by Gloria Miklowitz, Eedermans, William B. Publishing Company, 2003.  Netta and her family have relocated temporarily from Israel to Los Angeles and when her 17-year-old brother disappears, she becomes convinced that he has been abducted by Palestinian terrorists. Grades 8-12.

Everything You Need to Know about Peer Mediation, by Nancy Rue, Rosen Publishing Group, 2001. Through discussion and examples, she explains the practices and principles surrounding peer mediation and shows students an alternative to violence for resolving conflicts. For ages 13 and up.

The Fight for Peace: A History of Antiwar Movements in America, by Ted Gottfried, Lerner Publishing Group, 2005.  Part of the People's History series, this overview of protest movements from the Revolutionary War to the present war in Iraq is as much a history of America at war as a discussion of politics at home.  Grades 8-12.

Fighting the Invisible Enemy, by Terrence Webster-Doyle, Weatherhill, 1990.  This book helps young people see how preconditioned thinking and actions - behavior influenced by war toys, violent television, gender stereotypes, racial prejudice, peer pressure and more - can lead to division and violence.   Grades 9-12.

Gaining Mind of Peace: Why Violence Happens and How to Stop It, by Rachel MacNair, Xlibris, 2003. This book addresses questions about why there is war, violence, terrorism, and bullying and gives ideas for what young people can do about it. Grades 9-12. 

Geography Club, by Brent Hartinger, Harper Collins, 2004. Russell Middlebrook is convinced he is the only gay student at his high school until he stumbles across a small group of other gay students. United by their secret, they form a clubintended to appear so boring that nobody in their right mind would ever join: the Geography Club. Grades 7-12.

Operation Warhawk: How Young People Become Warriors, by Terrence Webster-Doyle, Altrium Publications, 1993.  This book helps young people examine the recruiting and training practices of the military, and helps them make an informed decision on what it really means to go to war.  Operation Warhawks does not present an antiwar or pacifist argument - instead it raises critical questions of free will and intelligent living.  Grades 7-12.

The Peace Book: 108 Simple Ways to Create a More Peaceful World, by Louise Diamond, Conari Press, 2001.  A project of The Peace Company at www.peacebook.com.  Grades 7-12.

The Skin I'm In, by Sharon Flake, Hyperion Books for Children, 1998. This novel explores the ways in which people's own insecurities can affect how they are treated along with how they behave. Grades 8-12.

Stitches, by Glen Huser, Tandem Library, 2004. Travis lives in a trailer park outside a small prairie town, where his love of sewing and desire to become a professional puppeteer make him different from his classmates and he is bullied by the school thugs.  The taunts and schoolyard ambushes escalate and erupt into violence. Grades 7-10.

Stories of Transformative Justice, by Ruth Morris, Canadian Scholars Press, 2000. An inspiring collection of  stories from around the world on restorative justice, forgiveness, prison reform, and transformative justice at work. Grades 9-12.

Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury. Tomikazu, Yearling, 1995. Nakaji's biggest concerns are baseball, homework, and a local bully, until life with his Japanese family in Hawaiichanges drastically after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  Grade 5-8.

Wringer, by Jerry Spinelli, Sagebrush Education Resources, 1998.  As Palmer comes of age, he must either accept the violence of being a wringer at his town's annual Pigeon Day or find the courage to oppose it.  Grades 5-8.