You Count: Books to Build a Better World

As you probably realize, our Explore Summer theme this year is Build a Better World. I think this is pretty great. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to Build a Better World? It is up to each of us to find our own way to contribute. Books, of course, are a great way to discover ideas and techniques for making the world better. I asked our Teen Ambassadors for some of their favorite books that inspire them to Build a Better World.


Grace C.

Be A Changemaker

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson

This book gives advice and tips on how make a change, and shares stories of other young people just like us teens who have made changes in their communities.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Malala is building a better world for women’s education at only 19 years old. This book is incredibly inspiring for girls (and guys) who strive to change the world they live in.



Dani A.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Diary of A Young Girl

I read this back when I was in middle school, but it changed how I saw life. It compelled me to value the life I had and to be grateful for everything. It convinced me to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to me and try and build a better world.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I read this in sixth grade, and the genuineness of it really impacted my perspective, especially concerning hatred and what it drives people to do. I think that this book is really effective in getting you to think about the drastic effects, as it makes you want to figure out what you can do to make a positive impact on the world.


Anna K.

Hello From 2030 by Jan Paul SchuttenHello From 2030

Teens can learn about advancements in STEM. This book faces them with real-world, large-scale issues that they can help think of solutions for.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Many people have either heard of this book or read it. It’s an interesting story about a group of children, and it proves that no matter where you come from, you can achieve greatness if you apply yourself



Helen S.

Dreams From My FatherDreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Through this compelling memoir, Obama shares his touching story of coming to embrace his identity as the son of a black father and a white mother.    In the context of today’s divided nation, this book urges us to “Build a Better World” — warning us of the dangers of racism and discrimination, and insisting that we continue to fight for racial equality and the ideal of the American Dream.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

This powerful, moving novel has helped many readers, teenagers and adults alike, to “speak” up for themselves. Furthermore, this novel calls us to “Build a Better World” in that we should demonstrate kindness and compassion for every person in our lives, as we may never know the trauma that others conceal.


Jonathan K.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart TolleThe Time Keeper

Emphasizing the importance of ceasing the moment, Eckhart Tolle teaches readers the importance of living in the presence.  In the modern age, everything is a blur, and it becomes difficult to stay in the moment as the world is constantly changing.  It is important for us to have time to refresh in the present and appreciate the now, instead of the labor.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

A story one who wants to live longer and one who wants to die sooner discusses the importance of what we have and cannot control.  Emphasizing the importance of life, Mitch Albom teaches readers to appreciate what they have and utilizes their gifts.  In this modern age, people are constantly discontent with the amount of time they have, yet we should be grateful and take advantage of our time to make the most of life.


Vaishu D.


Matilda by Roald Dahl

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I would recommend these books because they show that there is more than what meets the eyes. The protagonists in the two books have a similar crisis and despite their ups and downs they still manage to keep their character intact. They teach us that standing by yourself is the first step in Building a Better World.



Laura C.

Flowers for Algernon waFlowers for Algernons written by Daniel Keyes
The story is from the perspective of Charlie, Gordon, a man with an IQ of 68 who undergoes an experiment to raise his intelligence. This science fiction novel will break your heart and teach you about the mistreatment and misunderstanding of those who are mentally handicapped. The book is written with an incredible wisdom that will shatter you and give you beautiful insight.
The Book of Awesome written by Neil Pasricha
Contains over a thousand reasons why the world is an amazing place to live. Each reason is followed by lovely and hilarious 1-2 page descriptions. This book is a fantastic escape for natural pessimists.


Caroline K.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordHalf the Sky

This book deals with heavy topics like the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and Chinese/Japanese racial tension, but it does so gracefully. It encourages understanding and reconciliation, even if it takes a lifetime.

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Truly eye-opening call to action. It details the horrific treatment of women and girls around the world, what others are doing to help, and what you can do to get involved.


Although this is a children’s book, it reminds us, in the most innocent way, of the good that comes from being environmentally aware and protective. While caught up in the busy times of modern day, sometimes its nice to take five minutes out of your summer to reflect upon how to save the Earth by going green.

Drug Trafficking and International Security by Paul Rexton Kan

his book delves into the current issue of the global drug trade, as well as the history of and strategies for combating it. With an extensive research base and illuminating insights, Kan truly does present us with “…ways to create a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous world” .

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