Youth Involvement Bibliography

The Freechild Institute Youth Involvement Toolkit

These publications have informed Freechild Institute’s work on youth involvement in many areas, including youth civic engagement, child-friendly communities, community youth development, and much more.


Small Towns, Big Dreams: In Dying Rural Economies, Youth Efforts Infuse New Hope and Money by What Kids Can Do (2006). Located here »

Details how young people in rural areas across the country are central to the revitalization of their communities. “Young people can change the way a whole town operates. Let me tell you, it’s a breath of fresh air.” Elsa, Texas; Howard, South Dakota and; Lubec, Maine are explored. Includes statistical data.

Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change by Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development (2001). Located here »

This publication makes it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to creating positive change 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.

Children’s Participation: The Theory and Practice of Involving Young Citizens in Community Development and Environmental Care by Roger Hart. 

In this book Hart details his conviction that all children can play a central and lasting role in sustainable development if their genuine participation is taken seriously and if communities recognize their developing competencies and unique strengths. This guide introduces the organizing principles, successful models, practical techniques and resources for involving children in environmental projects, with useful further reading and contact addresses. 

Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making by Gerison Lansdown for UNICEF (2001). Located here »

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.

Promoting Strategic Adolescent Participation by Rakesh Rajani for Save The Children (2010). Located here »

With the belief that involving youth deliberately is a key to national and international community development, this paper proposes youth involvement is better than problem-focused action. This paper highlights the theoretical and conceptual basis for effective youth involvement, and then focuses on the program and strategic aspects of promoting effective adolescent development. 

Protagonism: A Journey in Children’s Participation by Nandana Reddy and Kavita Ratna for Vimanapura, The Concerned for Working Children (2002). 

Brings experiences and perceptions related to children’s participation that have been gathered previously to highlight principles and tools that would further the pedagogy and praxis of children’s participation.

Child Participation: Challenges of Empowerment by R. Wanduragala, J. Stiglitz, and L. Squire for World Vision UK. 

Focused on how young people-serving organizations can best facilitate meaningful child and youth involvement. With articles from a legal and practical perspective, it looks at the right to freedom of expression within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, then the wider implications of child participation from various perspectives. National case laws and international law is addressed here, and then there are contributions from young people in Europe, Philippines, Cambodia and Tanzania.

Youth Involvement for Community, Institution and Youth Development: Directions for Research, Evaluation and Practice by Matthew Calvert, Shep Zeldin and Amy Weisenbach for the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development (2002).

“Scaffolded Participation of Children: Perspectives from India” by Anita Rampal for International Journal of Children’s Rights 16 (2008) 313–325. Located here »

Examining implementations in India, this paper reveals the tools and approaches necessary to foster children’s participation in educational activities throughout communities. It reveals best practices and identifies areas for growth. 

Child-to-Child: A Practical Guide Empowering Children as Active Citizens by Sara Gibbs, Gillian Mann, and Nicola Mathers for the Child-to-Child Trust. Located here »

Highlights a proven process for working with children ages 9-15 on projects that are child-initiated and child-led. It is an illustrated, easy-to-read resource for parents and practitioners in schools and community groups. Including sections on group work, choosing issues, researching, taking action, and evaluation, each section also has includes games and experiential learning activities. There are also lists of readings, additional resources, and sample lesson plans.

Stepping Forward: Children and Young People’s Participation in the Development Process by Victoria Johnson, Evan Ivan-Smith, Gill Gordon, Pridmore Pat, and Scott Patta (1997). 

Drawing on a paper presented at an international workshop on children’s participation held in 1997, this paper presents key issues and challenges facing those facilitating children’s and young people’s participation. Issues include the ethical dilemmas of children’s participation; the process and methods; cultural awareness; institutional considerations; and the key qualities of a participation program for child and young people’s participation. 

Youth Involvement: Developing Leaders And Strengthening Communities by Bruce Swinehart for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Public and Indian Housing (1991)

Youth Issues, Youth Voices: A Guide For Engaging Youth And Adults In Public Dialogue And Problem Solving by Sarah Campbell (1996). Located here »

A discussion guide for youth and adults to talk about youth issues and brainstorm solutions.

Guide For The Powerless And Those Who Don’t Know Their Own Power: A Primer On The American Political Process by Samuel Halperin for the American Youth Policy Forum. Located here »

Young People Creating Community Change by Barry Checkoway for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Located here »

“Engaging Youth for Community Change: The key role of young people in creating Nashville’s Youth Master Plan.” by Ready by 21 for the Forum for Youth Investment. Located here »

“Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development: Lessons and Voices from the Field,” by Nicole Yohalem and Karen Pittman for the Forum for Youth Investment (2003) 

Starting in 1996, several libraries nationwide successfully increased their youth participation through after-school programs, mentoring, youth employment, community service and more. This article illustrates how.

Improving Your Community—DIY Toolkit: Improving your community — getting children and young people involved by Save the Children UK (2005)

Aimed at adults, this guide sets out a process that includes consulting young people about their views, understanding their rights, supporting them to put their ideas into action, and working alongside others to bring about real change. 

“Bridging generations: Applying ‘adult; leadership theories to youth leadership development” by Carole A. MacNeil for New Directions for Youth Development (2006).

The author of this article examined traditional adult leadership development research and examined correlations to the minimal information available on youth leadership through adult leadership programs. She then recommended ways one can benefit the other, and applications for action.

Learning to Listen Core Principles for the Involvement of Children and Young People by the Children and Young Peoples’ Unit (2001). Located here »

The purpose of this guidance is to introduce the core principles on which this work should be based; to provide departments with some early advice and background and with signposts to additional help, so that government departments can develop effective plans and to let departments know the broad timetable for action.

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam F.C. Fletcher for SoundOut (2005). Located here »

This short guide offers an introduction to fostering systematic student voice to encourage student engagement in education transformation. The author summarizes a vast field of practice, introduces research, and shares examples from across the United States and around the world.

These are just some of the thousands of manuals, reports, toolkits and other materials available about youth involvement today. What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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