Coming of Age in 2020: Teenagers on the Year that Changed Everything
A time capsule of art and artifacts, created by Gen Z.
Everyone knows what coming of age in America is supposed to look like. Then came 2020. Instead of proms and championship games and all-night hangouts with friends, there was school on Zoom from bed. In this book, teenagers from across the country show how they coped with a world on fire, as a pandemic raged, political divides hardened, and the Black Lives Matter movement galvanized millions. Via diary entries, comics, photos, poems, paintings, charts, lists, Lego sculptures, songs, recipes, and rants, they tell the story of the year that will define their generation.
The pieces in this collection, chosen from more than 5,500 submitted to a contest on the New York Times Learning Network, provide an arresting documentation of how ordinary teenagers experienced extraordinary events. But for every creative expression of terror, frustration, loneliness, and anxiety, there is another of meaning, joy, resilience, and hope.
Praise for Coming of Age in 2020: Teenagers on the Year that Changed Everything
A stirring, nuanced, passionate story of what young adulthood and teenagerhood look like today. Coming of Age in 2020 centers young people defining unprecedented times on their own terms—a portrait we’ll refer to for decades to come.
— Rainesford Stauffer, author of An Ordinary Age and All the Gold Stars
Read, share, and bask in the here and now of the young and hopeful. May we live long enough to walk the path that they’re forging. May we live long enough to see the world they create.
— Joel Garza, Upper School English chair, Greenhill School, Texas
A testimony to the strength and resilience of young people. I can't wait to use this book in my class to help my students tell their own story of this period of their lives.
— Jim Burke, English teacher, Middle College High School, San Mateo, California, and author of Uncharted Territory: A High School Reader and Guide
[A]n arresting documentation of how ordinary teenagers experienced extraordinary events….[A] masterful collection of inspirational works that will touch anyone's heart.
— New Age Mama
I’m a sucker for inspirational, well-executed student work, but Coming of Age in 2020 absolutely blew me away. It made me want to go back to the classroom and spend all of my time among these creative, resilient creatures.
— Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure and The Addiction Inoculation, and co-host of #AmWriting podcast
This collection of the voices of teenagers provides a wealth of information about life in the pandemic that can inform future generations, but more importantly can remind us all what we need to do for each other now as we move beyond the pandemic. The power of a student’s voice!
— Theresa Alban, retired superintendent, Frederick, Md.