The Year of Protest Reading List

Back in October, Brain Pickings posted the Occupy Omnibus: From Philosophy to Art, 10 Essential Books on Protest with their choices to better understand protest “through the customary Brain Pickings lens of cross-disciplinary curiosity, spanning everything from psychology and philosophy to politics and government to art and music.”   Thoreau makes the list, of course, with Civil Disobedience, but it also includes books about protest music and street art.

That was October.  Since then Time Magazine named “The Protester” the Person of the Year, “Occupy” has been talked about as Word of the Year, and 2011 is being labelled the “Year of Protest” by many.

In light of all this, I want to add a couple of titles to the list that Brain Pickings started.  The post only includes one children’s book after all, and as good as Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins is, I might have included other titles before that one if I were making the list.

  • After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien – The mother-son author/illustrator team behind this book are not new to protests, but teens (who are the main audience for the book) might be.  They might not have heard of many of the people and causes profiled in the book, which includes the recently deceased Vaclav Havel among several others.  After Gandhi was published in 2009, and the concluding chapter, “The Future of Nonviolence,” would be a great way to open a discussion with young people about the protests of the past year and how they relate to the past.  Highly recommended to share with teens or for for time-pressed adults who want brief synopses of important revolutionaries.
  • Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben – This book appeals to a similar but slightly younger audience than After Gandhi, and it may have a stronger impact to some young people as many of the profiles of peace-makers reference the childhood events that influenced the person to take on their particular cause.  Zalben’s illustrations are an important part of the book as well, and the Art Notes at the end of the book provide more details of why she chose the illustration elements she did for each individual, including for herself.  She writes that she found a meditative practice through knitting, and she included a swatch of her work on the title page to symbolize its place in her own peace journey.

There are so many more books for young people that highlight peaceful revolution that I couldn’t possibly do them all justice in this one post.  I will just mention, finally, that Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin was particularly powerful to me.  It is quite brief.  It is definitely for children, but I recommend that anyone interested in what “freedom” and “peace” mean give this story of a young boy in Communist Russia a chance.  As Peter Sis says, it is “an important book for all people living in free society.”  I must agree.

Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

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