Youth Voice Publications

The Freechild Institute Youth Voice Toolkit

The concept and practice of Youth Voice is grounded in a theoretical and practical body of literature that is accessible to youth and adults. The following publications are among the most important available today. Do you have something to add to this list? Share in the comments section below!

  1. 15 Points to Successfully Involving Youth in Decision-Making by Youth On Board. Covering the essential elements of successful project planning, this manual provides stories, hints, and tools to make your project successful. Adam Fletcher contributed to the most recent revision. Order it from
  2. Adults as Allies by Barry Checkoway. This publication increases the awareness of the role of adults in youth involvement by posing questions, offering activities, and providing stories that highlight effective intergenerational interaction. Download at
  3. At the Table: Making the case for Youth in Decision-Making: Research Highlights from a Study on the impacts of Youth on Adults and Organizations by the Innovation Center. Summary of key research findings from the Youth in Decision-Making research study (see following). Download at
  4. Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change edited by Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota. Academics study the current implementations of Youth Voice activities across the country and their effects on communities, policy, and more. Order from your local bookstore.
  5. Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change by The Innovation Center. This publication makes it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to youth involvement in their community. Filled with detailed information and case studies, it gives users what they need to create youth adult partnerships and lasting community development. Order at
  6. Children and Young People’s Participation by Child Rights Information Network. This issue of the CRIN Newsletter reviews how far children and young people’s participation has progressed, through a series of international overviews and thematic case studies. The overviews present the state of youth involvement around the world, examine key barriers to effective participation and suggest specific recommendations, based on experience, to improve future practice. Case studies describe examples of children’s participation in a variety of contexts. Download at
  7. Children’s Participation in Sustainable Development by Roger Hart. A new edition of Hart’s classic, this book is a central text for anyone interested in studying youth involvement in communities. It introduces organizing principles, successful models, practical techniques and resources for involving children in a variety of social projects. Order at
  8. Creating Youth/Adult Partnerships by the Innovation Center/ National 4-H Council. For those just beginning to explore youth-adult partnerships as a strategy for community and organization building, this book offers a step-by-step tools to prepare youth and adults to work as a team. Designed with even the most novice trainer in mind, this curriculum provides activities that challenge preconceptions, explore benefits, assess readiness and build trust to strengthen their work in partnership. Order at
  9. The Declaration of Accountability on the Ethical Engagement of Young People and Adults in Canadian Organizations by First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. This document shares a wide-ranging perspective of youth involvement, calling for organizations and communities to see beyond past activities and to identify and practice powerful ethical approaches to engaging youth. Despite the reference to Canadian organizations, this document is useful communities around the world. Download
  10. The Evolving Capacities of the Child by Gerison Lansdown. The principle behind recognizing the ‘evolving capacities’ of the child recognizes that as young people acquire enhanced competencies, there is a diminishing need for protection and a greater capacity to take responsibility for decisions affecting their lives. The purpose of this publication is to open the discussion and promote debate to achieve a better understanding of how children can be protected, in accordance with their evolving capacities, and also provided with opportunities to participate in the fulfillment of their rights. A necessary read for all youth involvement practitioners. Download at
  11. Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in the United States by Jee Kim, Mathilda de Dios, Pablo Caraballo, et al. This is the most comprehensive detailing of youth-led organizing ever published. The book details hundreds of organizations across the U.S., identifying them by location, issue-orientation, and constituency. Order from your local bookstore.
  12. Integrating Youth Voice in Service Learning by the Education Commission of the States’ Initiative. A brief summary of the variety of ways Youth Voice can find traction when young people combine community service with state learning goals. Available online at
  13. Making Space/Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations by the Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center. This publication is a powerful tool highlighting the successes and challenges of operating authentic Youth Voice programs. There are in-depth features on six programs across the nation, providing vital details and tips. Download
  14. Maximum Youth Involvement: The Complete Gameplan for Community Change by Wendy Schaetzel Lesko. This manual answers nearly 100 questions on how adults and organizations can support young people as equal partners and effective advocates in changing community norms and policies plus a 40-page Appendix with reproducible checklists and interactive skill-building activities. Order from
  15. Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam Fletcher. Provides a concise introduction for educators on how to empower student voice in schools by engaging students as decision-makers, and more. Includes useful theoretical models, practical considerations, and valuable examples from across the United States. Download at
  16. Measuring the Magic: Evaluating and Researching Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making by Perpetua Kirby. This report examines the different ways in which involving young people in decision – making could be measured and evaluated. It recommends a number of different ways of effectively evaluating work in a variety of settings. Download
  17. The Power of an Untapped Resource: Exploring Youth Representation on Your Board or Committee by the Youth Adult Partnerships Project. This handbook was created by Alaskan youth for boards or committees interested in including young people. It lists basic criteria for creating an effective board that includes youth representation, including: how to prepare boards for youth involvement; create a position; choose representatives; address legal issues; recruit youth; and educate youth members. Download’s/AASBPubs/HansB_bklt.pdf
  18. Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making by Gerison Lansdown. Makes the case for a commitment to respecting children’s rights to be heard and the need to consolidate and learn from existing practice. It draws on much of the already published research and thinking in the field and on a wide range of international initiatives. In so doing, it seeks to provide practical guidance on the lessons learned to date in working with children as partners. It is a contribution to the development of tools for those who see children ‘s rights to be heard as a means of promoting and protecting their other rights. Download at
  19. Re-focusing the Lens: Assessing the Challenge of Youth Involvement in Public Policy by Phillip Haid, Elder C. Marques and Jon Brown. This short paper explores successful models of youth participation in policy development and identifies barriers to meaningful youth involvement in the policy process, based on case studies. Download at
  20. SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum by Adam Fletcher. This is the first collection of lesson plans for classroom teachers focused on engaging student voice ever published. Includes a variety of hands-on, project-based activities that teach students about learning, the education system, school reform, and how students can be meaningfully involved in all three! Order from
  21. Taking the Initiative: Promoting Young People’s Involvement in Public Decision Making: International Reports by the Carnegie Young People Initiative. This report provides insights into the policy and administrative infrastructure that makes it possible for governments to conceptualize and implement program for young people. It underscores the importance of youth participation in informing policy and programming for young people. Countries featured in the report are Barbados, Uganda, Lithuania, Portugal, Denmark, South Africa and Germany. Download at
  22. Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Project’s Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships by Michael McLarney and Loring Leifer. An important primer on involving youth in meaningful ways, co-written by a youth and an adult. This is the foundational text for many other books on youth involvement. Order from your local bookstore.
  23. Youth in Decision-Making: A Study on The Impacts of Youth on Adults and Organizations by Shepherd Zeldin, Annette Kusgen-McDaniel, and Dimitri Topitzes. This report discusses the impacts young people have on adults and organizations when they are involved in significant decision-making roles. It will be of interest to policy-makers and practitioners, and concludes by commenting on the conditions that are needed to allow organizations to include more youth in their decision-making processes. Order at
  24. Youth Participation and Community Change edited by Barry Checkoway and Lorraine Gutierrez. Academics and organizational leaders from across the U.S. explore current research and action happening in communities around the country. Includes a great number of examples and wonderful descriptions from a variety of programs. Order from your local bookstore.
  25. Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook by the California Center for Civic Engagement and Youth Development. This is a spectacular, free how-to guide on getting youth involved in local policy making and community planning. The handbook provides a step-by-step guide to Youth Voice and is supported by an extensive online library of articles and activities. Download at
  26. Youth Voice: A Guide for Engaging Youth in Leadership and Decision-Making in Service-Learning Programs by Jonna Justinianno and Cynthia Scherer. The purpose of this guide is to provide service learning practitioners with basic information on Youth Voice – how to engage youth in leadership and decision-making in programs. This guide highlights what youth voice is, why it is important and models of Youth Voice that have been implemented by service learning practitioners. Download at



Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can help support youth voice in your community or organization, contact us.

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