Public policy experts have been warning for decades that political polarization is leading our nation away from its patriotic ideals and toward the very real dangers of autocracy and nationalism. Contributing factors include the fall of traditional newspaper readership and the rise of social media platforms, which have resulted in a distrust of politicians and a disinterest in government. Much of our country’s youth now live in what has become known as “civic deserts,” where there are few or no traditional opportunities for citizens to engage in respectful public discourse. If young adults are to be the safe-hold of our democracy, they must become engaged citizens who respect our nation’s history while also recognizing its inherent flaws.
The books in these thematic guides focus on civic advocacy and responsibility by addressing what roles both teachers and students play, along with strategies to shape reflective civic advocates who can recognize America’s complexities, balance divergent viewpoints, and seek necessary reform. Teachers can choose one or any combination of books to help students become informed and fully participating citizens who influence the social and political systems that shape their lives.