10 Summer Reads for Young Feminists

Summer is coming to a close—and young feminists heading back to school in the fall are running out of time to get lost in a feminist book! Girls and boys alike looking to further their knowledge about the feminist movement or yearning for an empowering story will find it in these 10 picks—some of which are brand-new and others that have become staples in the genre.

#1: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter’s world turns upside down when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of  a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon his death becomes a national headline and the community wants to know what exactly happened. Only Starr could answer that, but that might endanger her life.

#2: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Jennifer Latham’s page-turner leads to the Tulsa race riot of 1921, raising important questions about the complex state of U.S. race relations, which have been relevant in the past and today more than ever. Latham merges the lives of Rowan Chase and Will Tillman when Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property. She learns the brutal but necessary truth.

#3: The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

Celia C. Perez’s debut novel is perfect for young readers still discovering their identity. Readers meet Malú, who’s only 12-years-old, loves rock music and skateboarding. When times are tough at school, her father, who lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself. Keeping those words of wisdom in mind, Malú seeks to express herself.

#4: Note Worthy by Riley Redgate

A coming-of-age novel about a young girl named Jordan Sun in her junior year at an art school. Jordan has the chance to join an all-male elite a cappella octet, but has to juggle: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and dealing with old rivalries before she pushes gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and how to be herself.

#5: Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

For those young new comers to the movement, this book is basically Feminism 101. Valenti exchanges academic formal writing for conversational style to appeal to her younger audience. She invites women and girls to claim their identity as feminists while offering informative statistics and eye-opening insights.

#6: Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

Richards and Baumgardner broke boundaries in 2000 when they published Manifesta, a guidebook of sorts to young feminism. Ten years later, they updated the original text to make it ever-more relevant and salient, but the central point remains the same: no matter what crossroads feminism faces, the movement is here to stay. And young women are its future.

#7: So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister by Anna Akana

The internet sensation with 1.8 million subscribers opens up about losing her teenage sister to suicide, her personal coping mechanisms, issues dealing with low self-esteem and how she has dealt with the highs and lows of coming-of-age. Akana also shares insightful advice to young women on everything from growing up, self-care, money, sex and chasing your dreams.

#8: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Many recognize the award-winning Nigerian author due to her speech featured in Beyonce’s 2013 hit “Flawless,” but many don’t know that the speech was connected to this book. We Should All Be Feminists is a fast read about gender, misconceptions, stereotypes and unfair double standards.

#9: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Gay reminds readers that feminism should not be about women being limited to doing certain things, whether it is careers over domesticity or dismissing patriarchal standards of beauty. She empowers women and girls to make their own decisions through eloquent script.

#10: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda is a freshman at Merryweather High who quickly turns into an outcast after she calls the cops at an end-of-summer party. As time passes, she becomes isolated and stops speaking altogether. She turns to art to cope with the reality oh what happened to her at that party—and eventually, has to decide whether she’s willing to lose her voice or not.


Meliss Arteaga studied at California State University Northridge and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.