Top 10 Youth Voice Publications

There is a lot of chatter out there about listening to youth, engaging young people, and promoting meaningful youth involvement. But sometimes it is hard to find resources that value what you think and feel as someone committed to young people and social change.

Following are the Top 10 Youth Voice publications I have found through December 2006. They come from across the spectrum of youth voice, and each values diversity, transformation, and community. I have included a separate list of my own publications at the bottom for your use, and indicates free download. I’ll update this list again soon – Let me know what you think I should add!

10 Creating Better Cities With Children and Youth by David Driskell. This UNESCO publications provides examples and activities that can help young people become engaged throughout their communities. It gives youth participation a global perspective by contextualizing young peoples’ engagement within an international movement for citizen engagement. The tools within this booklet cover a variety of topics, and can be useful across the board.

9 Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook by The California Center for Civic Engagement and Youth Development. This is a spectacular, free how-to guide on getting youth involved in local policy making and community planning. While its really specific to community planning, this handbook provides a step-by-step guide to youth engagement and is supported by an extensive online library of articles and activities that can be used by any

youth voice group.

8 Occasional Paper No. 01: An Emerging Model for Working with Youth: Community Organizing + Youth Development = Youth Organizing by LISTEN, Inc. This paper would blow away the populist youth voice “effort” if people actually read it. It explores the influences of community organizing and youth development on youth organizing; describes a continuum that identifies different levels and models of youth engagement; and outlines the fundamentals of youth organizing: its processes, guiding principles, practices and impacts.

7 Global Uprising: Confronting the Tyrannies of the 21st Century by N. Welton and L. Wolf. Another book to wake up the so-called “youth voice movement”. This book moved my insides by sharing the stories of the new global youth movement for peace and justice. People are telling their own stories and sharing their own work through Told through personal narratives, poster art, poetry, photographs, and interviews with new and seasoned activists. Global Uprising captures the spirit of youth activism and honors young people’s power to effect serious change.

6 Best Practices in Youth Philanthropy by Pam Garza and Pam Stevens for the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth. This is the mother of all youth voice resources, in that it provides everything that anyone needs to know about youth voice in this particular area. It should be a blueprint for other books to follow.

5 What Works in Youth Participation? Case Studies from around the world by Sylvia Golombeck. This report asks a variety of interesting questions that contextualize youth voice in the global setting. By reaching across interest areas, this shares “what works” in many different areas, in many different ways. It is also written by authors of different ages – something most publications can’t claim.

4 Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in the United States by J. Kim, M. de Dios, P. Caraballo, et al. Features analysis of the modern youth movement, interviews with 25 young people changing the world, and profiles of 500 of the most important youth-led organizations across the country. It also includes statistics on youth organizations, listings of youth-friendly foundations and national networks, and amazing art from the movement.

3 Knock-Your-Socks-Off: Training Teens to be Successful Activists by Wendy Lesko. A great introduction to training for youth voice. Comprehensive, easy, and approachable in a way that a lot of manuals dream of being.

2 15 Points to Successfully Involving Youth on Boards by Youth on Board. This is the essential guide to youth involvement in decision-making for organizations and individuals. Focuses on YoB’s popular method for youth participation, giving needed tips and success stories throughout. Includes a rationale, steps to follow, and assessments for your organization.

1 Youth Voice Begins With You! by Jennifer Kurkoski, Karla Markendorf And Norma Straw for the Washington Youth Voice Project. Provides a far-reaching introduction to youth voice & involvement, including useful tips and trainings. This is the original framework that a lot of organizations adapted in their own programs and publications. Unfortunately, the Washington Youth Voice Project is defunct, and this manual is now unavailable – but do not despair! The Freechild Project worked with our local partners to recreate this fine work as the Washington Youth Voice Handbook!


Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Project’s Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships by Michael McLarney and Loring Leifer. An old-school original that it seems like everyone has borrowed from. This book is an important primer on youth participation in meaningful ways. This is the foundational text for many other books on youth involvement.

Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change by The Innovation Center. This publication incorporates ideas and tools from a variety of sources to make it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to creating positive change in their community. Filled with detailed information and case studies, it gives users what they need to create youth adult partnerships and lasting community youth development.

Youth as Equal Partners by Wendy Lesko and Adam Kendall for United Way of Amerca. This is a comprehensive, easy-to-use manual that provides a hyper-useful introduction to youth voice and involvement.

Bomb the Suburbs by William Upski Wimsatt. This book served as a manifesto and call-to-arms for my generation of youth activists who live in cities. The author is now a renown thinker of this generation, and this, his booming clarion call, sounds the charge with analysis, weaponry, and empowerment for today’s youth activists.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How To Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewelyn. “Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution.” Another dangerous wake-up call for youth voice advocates. This book is a “how-to” on youth voice for young people who want control over their own lives. Details all the issues surrounding learning from life instead of schools, including the legal implications, dealing with adults and learning once outside school. The final section includes stories about what people have done with their lives after they bail out of school.

The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear by Henry Giroux. Offers a vital and critical critique of the US political and popular culture ‘s influence on the lives of young people. In this controversial book, Giroux argues that there’s a war on in the US these days against young people.

More Than Service: Philadelphia Students Join a Union to Improve Their Schools by What Kids Can Do. This is the story of PSU, a group of students working citywide to promote a youth-created, youth-driven agenda for school and community improvement.

Youth Rights Library by NYRA by collection of research-based and opinion papers by authors around the world on various topics included in youth rights.

Student Voices Count: A Student-Led Evaluation of High Schools in Oakland. by REAL HARD. This is smooth. In 2003, students in Kids First Oakland’s REAL HARD program conducted their own youth voice in schools project, designing and collecting 1,000 report card surveys evaluating teaching, counseling, school safety and facilities at three Oakland high schools. The students compiled their findings, analyzed the results, and made concrete recommendations to improve the schools in this exciting, comprehensive report.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

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