Teens: Build a Better World

Summer is here, which means it’s time for the Summer Reading Game: Build a Better World at Your Library. Pick up your game board in the Ground Floor at the Main Library, the Ellettsville Branch, or the Bookmobile. And this year, in addition to reading, attending programs, and creating digital projects in Level Up, you can also earn summer reading points by volunteering.

Want to make a difference in your own neighborhood or community, but not sure where to start? Get inspired to build a better world by reading about young changemakers across the globe—and check out Teen Volunteering opportunities and Summer of Service program through the Bloomington Volunteer Network. Meet new people, learn a new skill, and help others!


Compiled by:
Jen H.
Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters

Laurie Ann Thompson
(Adult Nonfiction - 361.2 Tho)

"Teens looking to make a difference will find inspiration as well as real-world strategies for realizing their dreams of being the change they want to see in the world." —Kirkus Reviews

Because I am a Girl: I Can Change the World

Rosemary A. McCarney
(Adult Nonfiction - 305.2308 Mcc)

A call to change through stories of girls around the world. Because I am a Girl is a global initiative from Plan International to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls out of poverty.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba
(Adult Nonfiction - 921 Kamkwamba Kam)

An immensely engaging tale of how an enterprising teenager in Malawi builds a windmill from scraps he finds around his village and brings electricity—and a future—to his family.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Margot Lee Shetterly
(Adult Nonfiction - 920 Lee)

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. The women of Langley's all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens." —Publisher

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Malala Yousafzai
(Adult Nonfiction - 921 Yousafzai You)

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education—and almost paid the ultimate price.

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives

Martin Ganda, Caitlin Alifirenka
(Adult Nonfiction - 305.235 Ali)

"Sensitively and candidly demonstrating how small actions can result in enormous change, this memoir of two families' transformation through the commitment and affection of long-distance friends will humble and inspire." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

March: Book One

John Lewis
(Graphic Novels - 921 Lewis Lew)

"A vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement." —Publisher

Powered By Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists

Lyn Mikel Brown
(Adult Nonfiction - 361.2083 Bro)

"Both a journalistic exploration of how girls have embraced activism, and a guide for adults who want to support their organizing. Brown argues that adults shouldn't encourage girls to 'lean in.' Rather, girls should be supported in creating their own movements--disrupting the narrative, developing their own ideas—on their own terms." —Publisher

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World

Sarah Prager
(Adult Nonfiction - 306.766 Pra)

A LGBTQ chronicle for teens shares hip, engaging facts about 23 influential gender-ambiguous notables from the era of the Roman Empire to the present, exploring how they defy convention to promote civil rights, pursue relationships on their own terms, and shape culture.

Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World?

Jim Ziolkowski
(Adult Nonfiction - 921 Ziolkowski Zio)

The story of buildOn’s inspirational work with at-risk teens, its indelible influence on communities around the world, and of the man whose vision, faith, and conviction made it all possible. Jim Ziolkowski “believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same.” —Publishers Weekly

You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World

Maya Penn
(Adult Nonfiction - 158.1 Pen)

"Everyone is talking about the entrepreneur, animator, eco-designer, and girls' rights activist Maya Penn. Her TEDWomen Talk has been viewed over 1,200,000 times (and is one of the top 15 TEDWomen Talks of all time). Now this amazing teenager has written an inspirational handbook for teens and young adults to help them discover their passions and maximize their full potential for a creative, successful life." —Amazon

Young Enough to Change the World: Stories of Kids and Teens Who Turned Their Dreams Into Action

Michael R. Connolly
(Adult Nonfiction - 361.2083 Con)

Fifteen stories of young people from around the world who have made a positive difference in the lives of others.