social justice activism, feminist pedagogy, critical feminist theory, young adult literature


Other Education | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies

Document Type

Critical Essay (Special Topic)




Young adult fiction possesses the pedagogical power to educate young readers about activism, and more recently, authors of the genre have answered the call from young aspiring activists to deliver narratives that are reflective of and relevant to their own lives and communities. Published in October of 2021, the novel Why We Fly illustrates the complexities of participating in social justice activism while also providing entertaining and inspiring characters. In honor of Colin Kaepernick, authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal craft the fictional hero Cody Knight who encourages the text’s young protagonists to look at the world around them to identify injustice. Using critical feminist theory in an analysis of the text, I highlight the ways in which the novel guides readers to understand movement building and community outreach while also requiring them to reflect on their complicity in systems of oppression. From a feminist perspective, the young adult novel Why We Fly is a narrative that would enable teachers to present students with the opportunity to analyze systems of oppression and power structures, develop a critical consciousness, and question ways we privilege knowledge and ways of knowing.