Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It

“This is the book I desperately wished I had when I was fourteen and just starting my activism journey, with no clue of what I was getting into.” 

Jamie Margolin’s Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It is organized as “a guide to being a young changemaker” written by a young changemaker. As a youth climate activist, Margolin has created a comprehensive and inspiring book that draws on her experience for the sake of distilling detailed and practical advice for others.

Throughout the book, Margolin underscores the importance of lived experience: “What you have gone through, what you know because it happened in your own life, your own story, is your power.” The book begins with a chapter on “Finding Your Why” that discusses the importance of “making it clear to yourself why you are an activist and what exactly it is you are fighting for.” Margolin calls on her own lived experience “as a gay girl” in understanding homophobia and as an activist of color (she is Colombian American) in considering the particular challenges facing young activists with marginalized identities: “Keep in mind that the more marginalized identities you carry, the more you will be up against.” Margolin discusses her experience co-founding Zero Hour, an “international youth climate justice organization” whose mission statement begins: “Enough is enough. We, the youth, believe that #ThisIsZeroHour to act on climate change.” In talking about her work with others on Zero Hour, she considers topics large and small including finding the team, enlisting allies, establishing a structure and rules, fundraising, and making productive use of failures. As a writer of editorials and blog posts since age 13, she presents examples of her own published letters and editorials in a chapter on political writing and lists helpful detailed tips on writing opinion-editorials to submit to newspapers, since “There is no age restriction for who can write an op-ed!” 

Youth to Power is chock full of helpful detailed sections on how to organize events, lobby politicians, engage in civil disobedience, make one’s activism “go viral” through social media, use one’s creative work as activism, and take care of oneself and manage one’s emotional life across one’s “activism journey.” The book also intersperses short interviews between Margolin and other young activists who focus on environmental justice, climate justice, or other forms of activism. And Margolin goes well beyond the basics in talking about the complex dynamics of power in the work of youth activists today.

©2022 ClimateLit (Rachel Conrad)

Publisher: Hachette, 2020

Pages: 251

ISBN: 978-0-738-24666-6

Audience: Ages 14+

Format: Nonfiction, Youth-Authored

Topics: Activism, Climate Action, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Youth Climate Activism