The best books about peer pressure

1 authors have picked their favorite books about peer pressure and why they recommend each book.

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How to Breathe Underwater

By Julie Orringer,

Book cover of How to Breathe Underwater

In my very favorite story in this book full of favorites, “Pilgrims,” young children cope with adult reality in a Lord of the Flies-like atmosphere where a tragic accident is offset by the innocent gift of a lost tooth, a talisman meant to create magic in a world that can seem devoid of it. How to Breathe forefronts girls and teens struggling with guilt, peer pressure, identity, envy, sickness, death. Sounds grim, but the writing, the world Orringer creates, is as beautiful and moving as it is dark. Her characters are the kind you can live inside, remember being, feel for. I think about them a lot, still, and I read the book more than a decade ago.


Who am I?

Whenever I take on a new short story project, I read other writers to admire them, study them, and be inspired by them; it’s like talking with old friends. These five books took me through the heart and soul of what it is to be or to have a mother, to be or to have children, to love or to lose love, to maintain the rituals and magic of family or let them go. Although I believe men can write female characters and women can write males, I really appreciate the fine-tuned ear for the nuances of motherhood, womanhood, and relationships I find in collections written by women about women.


I wrote...

Unaccustomed to Grace

By Lesley Pratt Bannatyne,

Book cover of Unaccustomed to Grace

What is my book about?

The stories in Unaccustomed to Grace are often set in a slant version of reality that is ebullient, fierce, and reassuringly human. In “Waiting for Ivy” a woman grieving the loss of her infant daughter discovers a listserv of parents whose dead children have been returned, as if the tragedy were a clerical error. In “Corpse Walks Into a Bar” an indigent loner agrees to bury a reanimated corpse, not realizing what it takes to find a resting place when the dead are as self-serving as the living. Ultimately, the book plumbs the messiness we bring on ourselves with the best of intentions, and how we work our way toward redemption. The Boston Globe calls Grace “wise, warm, and wily.”

A.L.I.E.E.E.N.

By Lewis Trondheim,

Book cover of A.L.I.E.E.E.N.: Archives of Lost Issues and Earthly of Extraterrestrial Novelties

This 2006 wordless book left me open-mouthed in awe. Here’s the idea: cartoonist Trondheim was vacationing with family when he found this discarded comic from an alien spacecraft, and it’s reproduced here just as he found it, tattered pages and all. The word balloons, which point to strangely shaped creatures, contain unrecognizable letters and words—so, to those of us who aren’t aliens, this book is wordless. I think the short comic sequences are supposed to be funny, at least to the alien kids who read them, but I’m not an alien, so I was horrified at what happened to all the cute little creatures from another planet. But okay, I’ll admit it—I also laughed, in that “it’s so awful” kind of way. You’ll laugh, too.


Who am I?

I’m an Eisner-nominated and award-winning graphic novel and comics writer, editor, and book packager. I've worked on staff at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Disney Publishing, DC Comics, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Platinum Studios. My sequential art book, The Bramble, won the 2013 Moonbeam Gold Medal for Picture Books, and I created a new way to read comics with BirdCatDog, a 2015 Eisner Awards nominee, that received the 2015 Moonbeam Spirit Award Gold Medal for Imagination, and was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best children’s books of 2014. SheHeWe, the third book in the series, was a 2016 Eisner Award nominee for Best Publication for Early Readers.


I wrote...

BirdCatDog (Three-Story Books)

By Lee Nordling, Meritxell Bosch (illustrator),

Book cover of BirdCatDog (Three-Story Books)

What is my book about?

I invented a new way to read comics!

Each page shows a nine-panel grid, and if you follow all the panels on the top tier, all the way through the book, you get the bird’s story, and the bird is the hero of that story. But if you look at all the panels on the middle tier, you get the cat’s story, and the cat is the hero of that story. And if you look at all the panels on the bottom tier, you get the dog’s story, and the dog is the hero of that story. Finally, if you read each page from top to bottom, like a normal comic, then you get the whole story. This wordless book is perfect for young readers.

Join the Club

By Tina Rosenberg,

Book cover of Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World

Though we often think that positive change is inspired by charismatic leaders, NYT top gun journalist Tina Rosenberg takes us to a very different world, where real positive change is not driven by role models, but the peers. From iconic student-led revolution which has spread like wildfire from campuses to cities and villages in 90s Serbia, through removing the stigma from HIV positive people all the way to amazing process in which smoking has become “non cool” instead of “socially acceptable” this book explores the phenomena of “healing the community through peer pressure” especially among youngsters, and may serve as an amazing lighthouse to those seeking to mobilize-and get inspired by their own environment.


Who am I?

I'm super passionate about educating people on how to empower themselves and change the world. I do a lot of different things for a living. And my organization CANVAS works with the groups who are involved in the pro-democracy struggles and “art of the revolution.” Starting as a student activist in my homeland, ruled by ruthless dictator Slobodan Milosevic, I was blessed to meet and work with some of the most courageous people. Throughout the last 25 years, I've tried to capture, share, and transfer successful tools common people may use in order to address injustice, inequality, or small tangible problems through mobilizing their peers – and thus make their communities or the world a better place.


I wrote...

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

By Srdja Popovic, Matthew Miller,

Book cover of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

What is my book about?

“With this wonderful book, Srdja Popovic is inspiring ordinary people facing injustice and oppression to use this tool kit to challenge their oppressors and create something much better. When I was growing up, we dreamed that young people could bring down those who misused their power and create a more just and democratic society. For Srdja Popovic, living in Belgrade in 1998, this same dream was potentially a much more dangerous idea. But with an extraordinarily courageous group of students that formed Otpor!, Srdja used imagination, invention, cunning, and lots of humor to create a movement that not only succeeded in toppling the brutal dictator Slobodan Milošević but has become a blueprint for nonviolent revolution around the world. Srdja rocks!”—Peter Gabriel

Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

By Bill Peet,

Book cover of Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

I love stories about sea monsters and this was one of my favourites as a kid. It’s hard being Cyrus. Humans are afraid of sea monsters like him, and Shark thinks he’s too cowardly to sink ships. But the kindly sea serpent resists peer pressure and saves the day when he comes to the rescue of a ship in need. A sweet and surprising story about kindness and being true to yourself from a real legend of children’s literature, Bill Peet.

Who am I?

When I worked at a children’s bookstore I noticed there were tons of books about dragons and unicorns, but not a lot of picture books about other kinds of mythological creatures. I thought this was strange, especially since Harry Potter was so popular and those books were full of magical creatures. I have always loved pets and mythology, so I thought maybe I could write a primer on magical pet care. I also noticed how much the kids at storytime loved rhyming books, so I put all of these things together and If I Had a Gryphon was born!


I wrote...

If I Had a Gryphon

By Vikki VanSickle, Cale Atkinson (illustrator),

Book cover of If I Had a Gryphon

What is my book about?

Dragons and unicorns get a lot of love in picture books, but what about gryphons and krakens and chupacabras? This delightful picture book imagines what it would be like to take care of 20 magical creatures drawn from mythology and lore from around the world. When a kitten sneezes it’s adorable, but when a dragon sneezes? DISASTER! Kids and adults will love this primer on magical pet care featuring clever rhyming text and hilarious illustrations.

Killing Mr. Griffin

By Lois Duncan,

Book cover of Killing Mr. Griffin

This 1978 suspense novel completely freaked me out when I read it for the first time in high school, because the plot was so horrifyingly believable. Four high school students in New Mexico, angry at their strict, hard-hitting, demanding English teacher, devise a plan to punish him by kidnapping him and giving him the scare of a lifetime. That’s all they meant to do. They didn’t mean to kill him. Mark, the leader of the group, convinces everyone to cover up the death. Susan is the only member not on board with Mark’s way of dealing with their crime. She’s overcome with guilt and wants to come clean to the police. This only results in a domino effect of more tragedies and death before the group’s secret is discovered.

This novel has received all kinds of awards and honors, and richly deserves each one. I love that this novel takes…


Who am I?

I'm a huge bookworm and have enjoyed writing stories of my own since my elementary school days. During junior high, high school, and college, along with a lot of literature courses, I enrolled in every creative writing class I could find. I loved the stories, poems, and novels dealing with hard subjects the most, which (of course) resulted in me writing my own piles of gritty short stories. Those short stories continue to inspire my writing today. No surprise that the novel I’m currently working on is also based on a dark, gritty story I wrote my freshman year of college. Wish me luck on getting this one published, too! 


I wrote...

The Secret Journal of Brett Colton

By Kay Lynn Mangum,

Book cover of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton

What is my book about?

Kathy Colton can’t stand her brother Brett. Her family talks about him as if he were perfect! All Kathy knows for sure is that Brett is dead. And that he died of leukemia when he was seventeen and she was only two. But when Kathy turns sixteen, she discovers her brother’s hidden journal—a journal written especially for her—and learns about the brother she never knew. At the same time, Kathy is mortified by an assignment to tutor the popular high school quarterback Jason West, a football jock who, even worse, is a Mormon. Author Kay Lynn Mangum brilliantly weaves the dual stories of a dying brother and a coming-of-age sister who both learn the importance of loving family and friends and nurturing faith. 

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