Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Be a Changemaker Workshops

beachangemakerSometime last year I got a call from Kirsten Cappy at Curious City asking if I wanted to help her write a series of workshops supporting a book called Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson. If you aren’t familiar with Curious City, it’s a site where you can find a variety of book based library program ideas with easy to personalize and use publicity materials. I was familiar with Curious City because I had used Kristen’s materials in a previous teen summer reading program. Because I end up having to develop so many program ideas and publicity materials from scratch, it’s nice to find a resource I can use that is less time intensive.

Curious City facilitates children’s literature discovery by creating marketing tools that engage readers with story. “

So Kirsten and I spent a year developing a curriculum, brainstorming ideas, and writing out detailed “lesson plans” or workshop outlines to help librarians lead teens through a multi-part workshop that would encourage teens to be changemakers in their local communities. The premise, for me, became something like what I try to do with Teen Programs in a Box: here are a bunch of ideas and resources, pick and choose the ones that work best for you in terms of your resources and community and bam – you have a program.

I was excited that it was about this book, this topic, because I believe in the power of teens to be a positive force for change in our world. That’s what a changemaker is, someone who sees a problem and works to help address it. Teens do this everyday as we see in moments like the Halo Awards that recognize kids and teens for their amazing achievements and positive contributions to this world. Be a Changemaker takes teens through a variety of steps that begin with brainstorming what problems you would like to address, what your passions are and then leads you through the process of basically organizing a small group of people around a plan to help try and address that problem. Whether it be creating a plan to collect discarded crayons from restaurants or finding a way to help encourage sick kids in your local community, teens can and do start amazing initiatives and this is a great tool to help them do it.


The workshops we created are available for free in PDF form at the Curious City website. They include workshop outlines, some basic support materials like handouts and worksheets, and publicity materials that you can download and personalize with your library (or school) information to promote your workshop. You can find it all here: http://www.curiouscitydpw.com/2015/05/10/be-a-changemaker-workshops/. In all there are a total of 6 workshops. I tried to take what I know about what makes programs successful and apply them to these workshops. We tried to make sure they were engaging, with lots of hands on activities and opportunities for self exploration and self expression.

Teens can change the world. These workshops and this book can help inspire and challenge them to do it.

More on the Book:

Be a Changemaker: How to 
Start Something that Matters

By Laurie Ann Thompson
Foreword by Bill Drayton
Published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse
For Ages: 12 and up
Hardcover ISBN: 9781582704654, $19.99
Paperback ISBN: 9781582704647, $12.99

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson (Blog Tour)

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” – author Libba Bray, quoted on page 161 (always quote Libba Bray, always.)

Teenagers often get a bad rap. They’re loud, they’re obnoxious, their selfish, they’re lazy – that’s what you’ll hear a lot in the press. And from adults: When I was a kid, if we didn’t show respect my parents would have kicked my butt, when I was a kid . . . Well, the truth is, kids today are a lot like kids have always been. And in some ways, they’re better: they have more information about the world they live in and are doing things to make it better. They don’t just sit back and say, “I wish someone would find a way to do something about pollution” – they find a way to make it happen. Sometimes they are local things, sometimes they are global things. But teens today are signing up to be real Changemakers.

What is a changemaker? They are the people around us who take the initiative to create positive social change. They are the teens who start a school garden. They are the teens that start a local recylcing project. They are the teens that see a need and work to find a way to solve it. They want to make their world a better place by starting a movement, creating a new tool, or putting new practices into place.

But being a changemaker isn’t always easy. First comes the idea, but then what do you do with it? Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson is the perfect tool for the changemakers among us. From brainstorming to team building to marketing, Be a Changemaker is a step by step resource guide that can help changemakers go from having an idea to being a force to be reckoned with. An idea in and of itself isn’t enough, changemakers need a variety of tools to take that idea and make it a reality. Some of the chapters cover topics such as running a meeting, developing a business plan, dealing with money matters, working with the media, writing speeches that spark and planning an event. Having read through the book, I have to say this is a really good tool and I like that it highlights and motivates while giving teens the tools they need to be successful changemakers. I definitely recommend it.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to bet better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Check out these 5 teen changemakers who are doing things like helping sick kids, joining the fight against bullying, and recycling to help others while saving the planet: 

Everyday Hero: Teen creates backup emergency communications system for local fire station 

This Kid Rocks: Chapel Hill teen creates nonprofit to encourage sick kids 

Arizona teen creates middle school program to combat bullying 

Chicago Teen Creates Change Through Living Gift Markets 

DC teen creates organization to collect discarded crayons from restaurants 

And if you have an aspiring changemaker in your life, here are some organizations you can help them get in touch with to address the things they are passionate about. And if they don’t see something here, they can always pick up a copy of Be a Changemaker and start their own movement. 

To Write Love on Her Arms 
Their mission statement: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. 

It Gets Better Project 
The message of the It Gets Better Project is simple: everyone deserves to be loved for who they are and it does get better.  They ask everyone to take this pledge: Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other bullied teens by letting them know that it gets better. 

The Big Help 
The Big Help is an initiative of the Nickelodeon channel that encourages tweens and teens to get involved in local projects to help their communities.  The audience definitely skews younger tween, but the way it is designed encourages local action, which is great.

Donate My Dress.org 
Donate My Dress is an initiative sponsored by Seventeen Magazine that encourages teens to donate their special occasion dresses to others in need.  The 2012 spokesperson is Victoria Justice. 

Do Something.org 
Do Something is all about encouraging teens to, well – do something positive for their world.  This is what it says under their Who We Are page: e love teens. They are creative, active, wired…and frustrated that our world is so messed up. DoSomething.org harnesses that awesome energy and unleashes it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car. With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US for teens and social change. 

VolunTEEN Nation.org 
I am a huge advocate of teen volunteers, and many libraries have been using teen volunteers for years in the form of Teen Advisory Groups (TAGs).  But not all libraries have the staffing or funds to successfully incorporate TAGs into their programs.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage teen volunteering by providing teens access to volunteer information.  Volunteen Nation is here to help.  Volunteen Nation encourages organizations to add volunteer opportunities to their programming and they also help teens find volunteer opportunities through their website. 

Stop Cyberbullying.org 
With the explosion of technology comes the explosion of cyberbullying, find information and take the pledge to step in and speak up here.

As part of their ongoing campaign to promote tolerance, Tolerance.org sponsors Mix It Up at Lunch Day in November (this year it is November 13th).  On this day teens are encouraged to sit with new people at lunch.  I have gone to schools on this day with displays and just went and interacted with the teens at lunch.  Most teens like to sit in the same place with the same people, but it can really open up dialogue. 

Teens for Planet Earth 
T4PE is a social network by teens, for teens to learn more about conservation efforts and to share information about local projects. 

Greening Forward 
Profiled in Be a Changemaker, Greening Forward was started by a 12-year-old boy to address environment concerns. It is not one of the largest youth-led not-for-profit organizations. 

Project Girl 
From their about page: “PROJECT GIRL combines art, media literacy, and youth led activism. PROJECT GIRL is a ground-breaking girl-led, arts-based initiative created to enable girls to become better informed critical consumers of mass media advertising and entertainment. In other words, to become more media literate. PROJECT GIRL’s unique approach uses art as the means to educate, inspire, and create social change. . The Project Girl gives girls the structure to be the producers of their own culture, not just passive receivers of a culture that is trying to sell them something.”

Stay Teen 
Stay Teen provides information on sex, dating and birth control. 

Love is Respect 
Love is Respect talks about the positive things that love is, and highlights the negative things that it is not – including sexting and abuse. There is some good discussion under the Is This Abuse? tab. 

Break the Cycle 
Break the Cycle is also committed to helping to end dating violence and promoting healthy relationships. 

Day of the Girl 
International Day of the Girl is a movement…

to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights everywhere. 

Teens on Trafficking 
Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that is bigger than we realize.  Teens on Trafficking gives teens facts and tools to help end it. 

Love 146 
This is another resource aimed at ending human trafficking and sex crimes against children. 

Free the Children 
Profiled in Be a Changemaker, this is a group founded by a 12-year-old boy. They are an “international charity and educational partner, working both domestically and internationally to empower and enable youth to be agents of change.” 

Here ya author John Green and is Bro join with teens to fight suck using their brains. 

Book Description:

Empower yourself in today’s highly connected, socially conscious world as you learn how to wield your passions, digital tools, and the principles of social entrepreneurship to affect real change in your schools, communities, and beyond.

At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not allowed to attend school, and Richards Rwanda took shape.

During his sophomore year of high school, Zach Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Do you wish you could make a difference in your community or even the world? Are you one of the millions of high school teens with a service-learning requirement? Either way, Be a Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to affect real change. You’ll find all the tools you need right here—through engaging youth profiles, step-by-step exercises, and practical tips, you can start making a difference today.

This inspiring guide will teach you how to research ideas, build a team, recruit supportive adults, fundraise, host events, work the media, and, most importantly, create lasting positive change. Apply lessons from the business world to problems that need solving and become a savvy activist with valuable skills that will benefit you for a lifetime! (Simon Pulse/Beyond Words, September 2014. ISBN: 9781582704647)


Laurie Ann Thompson comes from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners. She has worked at IBM, Intel, and Microsoft, and she co-founded a successful internet startup. In addition, she has led a regional nonprofit professional organization and volunteered with Ashoka’s Youth Venture, which supports teens with big ideas. This is her first book. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her at LaurieThompson.com. You can learn more about author Laurie Ann Thompson at her webpage. You can also find answers to Be a Changemaker questions at the Be a Changemaker Q & A page.

And Please visit the rest of the stops on Be a Changemaker blog tour

Tues, Sept 9 ~ at Girl Scout Leader 101 

Wed, Sept 10 ~ at Unleashing Readers 

Thurs, Sept 11 ~ at Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fri, Sept 12 ~ at The Nonfiction Detectives

   and Kirby’s Lane   

Sat, Sept 13 ~ at The Styling Librarian  

Mon, Sept 15 ~ at NC Teacher Stuff   

Tues, Sept 16 ~ at The Hiding Spot 

Wed, Sept 17 ~ at Kid Lit Frenzy   

Thurs, Sept 18 ~ at GreenBeanTeenQueen   

Fri, Sept 19 ~ at A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

A free copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.