Young Adult Authors Are Incredibly Proud of the Teenage #NeverAgain Leaders

The literary world has been gifted with many books featuring young heroes and heroines. Whether they’re taking care of their loved ones, standing up for what they believe in, or quite literally saving the world, these stories illustrate that children and teenagers are capable of greatness and leadership. Right now, we’re seeing such a narrative play out in real life.

The survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting have established the #NeverAgain movement to advocate for gun control in the United States, and people from all corners of the country have praised them for their courage and initiative. Such a high-profile organization inevitably attracts opposition, and many pro-gun officials have written them off as naïve and over-emotional. Some right-wing conspiracy theorists have even gone so far as to call them “crisis actors.” But America’s youth have banded together and called for change many times throughout history, proving that young people truly are capable of making a change. While skeptics may harbor doubts about whether teens can be taken seriously, authors of young adult literature have always known about the integrity and influence of the teenage voice. They’ve been writing about young people’s power and potential since the genre’s inception, and they couldn’t be more proud that the Parkland survivors are becoming the heroes one might find in their stories.

Many YA writers have voiced their support for these students on Twitter. Alex London, author of the Proxy duology, tweeted, “Not one YA author in America is surprised by the courage and leadership teenagers are showing right now. Our jobs have always been to show that teens can change the world.” Angie Thomas, author of the critically-acclaimed The Hate U Give (a book that addresses systematic racism, gun violence, and the bravery of activism), reacted similarly, saying, “Never tell me that it’s unrealistic that teens save the world in YA books.” Julie Murphy, Jandy Nelson, and Rainbow Rowell are also among the ranks of YA authors who are amazed at these teens’ courage and dedication.

Some authors have encouraged the YA literature community to become more actively involved in the movement. Several members of Kidlit, a community of children’s and young adult writers, have organized local #KidLitMarchesForKids protests to coincide with the March For Our Lives on March 24, and they’re calling for writers, librarians, and readers to participate or organize marches in their own neighborhoods. Others are encouraging young readers to register to vote once they come of age. Alex London has also tweeted about this, suggesting that authors have voter registration documents at their promotion events.

The Parkland students are proving to another generation that young people have a valid voice and can be leaders in our communities and our nation. They are our real-life mockingjays, fighting for the lives of children and teens across the country. A viral tweet from Jennifer Ansbach highlights the power of creating meaningful stories for the youth of our nation: “I’m not sure why people are so surprised that the students are rising up—we’ve been feeding them a steady diet of dystopian literature showing teens leading the charge for years. We have told teen girls they are empowered. What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation.” Of course, YA literature isn’t the cause for the students’ protests, but producing media that depicts young people making a change shows that you’re never too young to fight for what you believe in. The leaders of #NeverAgain are the embodiment of these stories, and they deserve to be acknowledged as heroes.