On My Bookshelf: How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation by Maureen Johnson

December 31, 2018

The basic plot from Amazon: An all-star collection of essays about activism and hope, edited by bestselling YA author Maureen Johnson.

Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they're bound to inherit. They're ready to stand up and be heard - but with much to shout about, where they do they begin? What can I do? How can I help?

How I Resist is the response, and a way to start the conversation. To show readers that they are not helpless, and that anyone can be the change. A collection of essays, songs, illustrations, and interviews about activism and hope, How I Resist features an all-star group of contributors, including, John Paul Brammer, Libba Bray, Lauren Duca, Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, Alex Gino, Hebh Jamal, Malinda Lo, Dylan Marron, Hamilton star Javier Muñoz, Rosie O'Donnell, Junauda Petrus, Jodi Picoult, Jason Reynolds, Karuna Riazi, Maya Rupert, Dana Schwartz, Dan Sinker, Ali Stroker, Jonny Sun (aka @jonnysun), Sabaa Tahir, Shaina Taub, Daniel Watts, Jennifer Weiner, Jacqueline Woodson, and more, all edited and compiled by New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

In How I Resist, readers will find hope and support through voices that are at turns personal, funny, irreverent, and instructive. Not just for a young adult audience, this incredibly impactful collection will appeal to readers of all ages who are feeling adrift and looking for guidance.

How I Resist
is the kind of book people will be discussing for years to come and a staple on bookshelves for generations.

Why I liked it: How I Resist is a collection that challenges the idea of resistance. Protests, marches, and sit-ins are all very visible forms of protest and resistance, but this collection reminds the reader that a song, a podcast, a poem, our day to day choices can all be forms of resistance too. The collection brings attention to all sorts of interesting individuals and projects I never knew existed. The variety of voices and types of pieces in the collection makes it appealing to people of ages (teens are the target audience) and backgrounds, and if you are active on Twitter, you'll have quite a few new accounts to follow.

Classroom application: The collection could be read in its entirety in an English or Social Studies class, especially one focused on current events. The variety of pieces could also be used individually as examples of different types of nonfiction texts. I'll share a few of my favorites.

"Could We Please Give the Police Departments to the Grandmothers?" by Junauda Petrus is an essay that, much as the title suggests, describes what police departments would be like if they were run by grandmothers. The essay would be a great pairing with popular fiction titles like The Hate U Give, All American Boys, and Dear Martin. The essay could lead to research about how police are trained and function in other parts of the world. It is full of allusions and could be a mentor text for students to write about other things that would be better run by grandmothers (or any other age/gender group).

In the essay "The Lucky Ones," Jennifer Winner tackles the issues of privilege and equality. Because it is focused on her daughters, it is less likely to be perceived as preachy or threatening than other pieces I've read on the topics. I think it would open up good dialogue in the classroom about what has changed in America in the past 50-100 years and what hasn't. Further, it would help students begin to realize that all change has positive and negative effects, even if that change is "for the good."

John Paul Brammer recounts a formative childhood experience in "Letter to a Sensitive Brown Queer" in which he is confronted with gender stereotypes. The essay could be part of a unit on identity and imparts the message to students that it is okay to be different. I particularly like that the essay is written in second person to draw the reader in to the drama of the event.

Finally, "Media-Consciousness As Part of Resistance!" by Jonny Sun has a list of ten things to think about when consuming media and six ways to react to media. The list of things to think about would be a great starting point for a lesson on unit on digital literacy in either a Language Arts class or Social Studies class. Students could select a piece of media (the author points out that the same ideas apply to social media) and process it using this list of things to think about.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of How I Resist for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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