What To Read…

Some of my very first memories with my mom were reading with her. I remember being snuggled up on her lap and reading Fairy Tales and hanging on to every word. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite because I thought AURORA was gorgeous and I loved the pink roses in the pictures. In later years when we began reading on our own my mom made a rule that we could extend our bedtime by 30 minutes (a huge amount of time when you are a child) IF we were in our beds reading. So every night my brother and I read independently before bed. The stories I devoured in my room through childhood and adolescence are some of my favorite memories to date. There is little that compares to reading a favorite book for the first time! My brother and I both grew in to book lovers and have tried to pass the love of literature on to our own children. I believe the greatest superpower of stories is the ability to transport the reader to any place in the universe. To expose the reader to pages full of mysteries, love affairs, friendships, struggles, and connections with humans of every race and creed, all from the comfort of your own home. Within a book there is a sense of wonder, excitement and promise. So naturally when the world fees topsy turvy to me the first place I want to run is directly to the pages of a book. Whether you are seeking to learn, to expand your knowledge or to share diversity with the children in your life, below is a list my wonderful friend and Early Literacy Specialist, Jamie Garcia compiled to help you get started. I’ve included her notes and explanations so you can have a starting point to begin digging deeper with your own children and for yourself! First she includes a lengthy list of Diverse Books for Children of every age and she follows it with a list of Books for Adult readers that focuses on the Black experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and has kindly compiled this list for our followers. Take a look and save it for future reference. You will not be disappointed!

What To Read…For Children

*Notes from Jamie*

“The books with the * are ones that I have read before and HIGHLY recommend compared to the others in the list–these are often ones that hit on more than one important topic. The picture books are at the beginning, and the chapter books have their own separate section. The chapter books include some early readers for K-2, but a majority of those books listed there are for grades 3-6+.
One last SUPER IMPORTANT note: I would HIGHLY urge you to advocate for books that paint the black community as being heroes and as just going through daily life. Some people have been flooding their classrooms or homes with books of black children and adults overcoming slavery and Jim Crow. That is SO SUPER important, but black children need to see themselves as OTHER than slaves or victims of Jim Crow, as just the heroes in an epic fantasy, as a middle schooler just trying to fit in, as a sports star, scientists, etc. I am not saying that they should stay away from slavery, DEFINITELY have it, but try finding books that paint them as heroes, adventurers, scientists, activists, etc. In my booklists, I tried to stay away from books about slavery and from common racial tropes. Let’s change the world one book at a time!”

Jamie B Garcia, Early Literacy Specialist, Washington-Centerville Public Library

Diverse books for Children:

Asian Heritage

Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Muslim immigrant experience and cultural appreciation)

Crescent Moons and Painted Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan (beautiful works of art, cultural appreciation, diversity)

Holi Colors by Rina Singh (a board book but shows the beautiful cultural tradition of Holi)

*Festival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal (another picture book about the Indian Festival of Colors)

*The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (respecting new students with different names)

Thread of Love by Kabir Sehgal (about the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan)

The Tiger in my Soup by Kasmira Sheth (diverse characters-India) I haven’t read it but it came up on a list I found online and has some good reviews on Goodreads.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (diverse characters. Pakistani)

Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman (Indian main character and fairy tale)

Peg and Cat: The Eid al-Adha Adventure by Jennifer Oxley & Billy Aronson

T is for Taj Mahal: An India Alphabet by Varsha Bajaj (excellent pictures featuring important Indian landmarks)

Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz (Pakistan & loving your culture and family)

African American Heritage

*Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (features love and respect for the headscarf)

*My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera (how beautiful black hair is)

*I Am Enough by Grace Byers (loving who you are and respecting others even though they may be different)

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed (how little girls of color can and should dream big)

Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller (about having beautiful black hair but that it is not ok to touch it)

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (grandmother and grandson travel on the bus and notice different neighborhoods)

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes (a celebration of black male hair)

*Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (an amazing story about a young girl who will do anything to be what she wants to be)

Early Sunday Morning by Denene Miller (good for helping with courage, bravery, and stage fright)

*Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (black girls can be amazing scientists too—STEAM)

*Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry (A black father helps his black daughter love and appreciate her beautiful hair).

*The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander (Looking at black heroes and their wonderful accomplishments.)

Hispanic Heritage

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (immigrant experience and Hispanic culture)

*Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza (celebrates the Hispanic Luchadora wrestlers and reinforces that girls can be wrestlers too)

*Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh (two Hispanic cousins live apart from each other [one in NY and the other in Mexico] and they learn that their lives are not that different.

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong (A girl notices shapes that are abundant in her predominately Hispanic neighborhood)

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina (Meg’s grandmother visits, but she does not speak English so they find other ways to communicate and enjoy each other’s company)

No English by Jacqueline Jules (a Hispanic girl comes new to school and doesn’t understand English and another student doesn’t think it’s fair until she learns more about her)

*Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise (Excellent biography of an amazing Latina Librarian.)

*My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Zeke Pena (Wonderful story of a man and his daughter exploring their Hispanic neighborhood.)

*Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh (Looks at the segregation of not black students, but Hispanic students in the South during the 1950s and 1960s.)

Native American Heritage:

*Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales (celebrates Native American names and culture)

When We Were Alone by David Robertson (a young Native child learns about her culture)

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence (how the loss of Native languages has become common over the years because of colonialism)

First Laugh, Welcome Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood

Immigrant and Refugee Experience/New Students

*Mustafa by Marie Louise-Gay (a refugee student flees to the US and tries to fit in)

*Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien (new students who came from other countries and acceptance)

*All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold (everyone is welcome in a classroom no matter where they come from)

Marwan’s Journey by Patricia de Arias (some of it might be scary depending on age level, but it shows refugees fleeing and gives an idea of what refugees have to go through to come to a new place)

*I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien (immigrant experience from their perspective, diverse cultures, names, and characters)

*The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (finding courage to be different as a new student who looks different than others, diverse characters)

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (refugee experience which helps with empathy)

The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies

Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour (Refugee experience, friendship, more light hearted not as deep)

Idriss and His Marble by Rene Gouichoux (African refugee experience)

A Sky Without Lines by Krystia Basil (border wall separating families)

*Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (An autobiographical picture book of Morales’ immigrant experience to the US. Absolutely beautiful.)

Books with Diverse Characters and Message of Welcome/Love:

My Mommy is a Hero and My Daddy is a Hero by Isabel Otter (deals with diverse parents in the military)

*I Walk with Vanessa by Kerscoet (about an act of kindness and how that can web out and effect others too, features diverse characters and shows that everyone is the same no matter what they look like)

Neither by Airlie Anderson (features animals to tell a story about being different, celebrating and being proud of your differences, and how others should respect and love those differences too)

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates (shows that there’s room for everyone, and the umbrella adapts)

*Skin Again by Bell Hooks (talks about skin color and how that should not define who you are)

*Love by Matt de la Pena (love is powerful and can go beyond skin color)

W is for Welcome: A Celebration of American’s Diversity by Brad Herzong (parts of American historical landmarks but also paths to citizenship)

*I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde (a book about empathy with diverse characters and cultural backgrounds)

That’s Not a Hippopotamus by Juliette Maclver (comical tale of a diverse classroom that goes on a fieldtrip to the zoo)

*We Are Shining by Gwendolyn Brooks (how everyone is beautiful, acceptance, and humanity)

Books Celebrating Who You Are:

Dear Girl: A Celebration of Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful You! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal (important messages to garner self-confidence in young girls, does feature diverse girls too, but there is mainly a white girl featured)

*Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (diverse characters, Hispanic cultural appreciation, and being different)

*Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman and Eda Kaban (that you don’t need to be a specific gender to like a specific color)

Being You by Alexs Pate (that you are wonderful the way you are)

*It’s Ok to be Different by Todd Parr (celebrating everyone’s differences)

Want to Play Trucks? ~ Ann Stott (celebrating differences between how kids play, and celebrating finding common ground)

Where Are You From? By Jaime Kim

-Big Boys Cry by Jonty Howley (breaking gender norms)

What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold (not dressing to gender, being inclusive)


* A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary (all kinds of families represented)

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings (about a boy who knows he should really be a girl)

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam Baker Shiffer  LGBT parents (celebrating mother’s day at school. One kid has two dads, one has two moms, I think one lives with grandma.

Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter, and Caprice Crane (a story about a pig who is adopted by two dads)

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson (two male penguins who love each other want a family of their own)

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco (features a mixed race family with two mothers)

*The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman (features mixed race couples and families as well as same sex couples)

*Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack (a prince can’t seem to find someone he loves until a knight in shining armor arrives)

Worm Loves Worm by J.J Austrian (Two worms in love decide to get married, but aren’t sure who should be the bride and who should be the groom)

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman (Jacob has a great imagination, and also loves wearing a dress, especially one he’s made himself)

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton (Tilly the Teddy knows it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or a girl; it’s what’s inside that counts!)

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Baldacchino(Morris is teased when he wears a dress to school, but schoolmates soon learn how much fun he can be.)

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom (A child is born, and can’t decide what to become. A mother’s love encourages them to be whatever they can imagine.)

Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman (Three-year-old Casey wants what his older sister, Jessie, has–a shimmery skirt, glittery painted nails, and a sparkly bracelet–but Jessie does not approve.)

(Jack) Not Jackie by Erica Silverman (Jackie identifies as Jack, and his family learns to accept that.)

-Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Whiteness/White Privilege

*Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

Divorced parents:

Here and There by Tamara Ellis Smith

Chapter Books:

Chapter books–Asian Heritage:

*Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Brings up micro aggressions, immigration, and the Asian American experience.)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Weaves Asian folktales into a wonderful story)

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Lucy wants a room of her own and wants her own space—until things change when her aunt from China moves in too.)

*Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to embrace her family’s culture and also blending in at school.)

*Aru Shah and the End Time by Roshani Chokshi (Basically Percy Jackson with a lead female Indian character with traditional Hindu gods. Excellent story and characters.)

-Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (An amazing and page-turning series based in Korean mythology.)

*Meet Yasmin! Early reader series by Saadia Faruqi (Yasmin is a spitfire second grader who is proud of her Pakistani culture and wants to accomplish so much in life! Excellent early reader series.)

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! By Jessica Kim (Yumi is super shy but wants to become a standup comedian. Tries to overcome bullying about her Korean heritage.)

Chapter books– African American Heritage:

*Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson (SUCH a moving and powerful story about a black girl in the south who has heard of the killing of Emmitt Till. Might be risky in a classroom, and may want to ready it ahead of time, but it is similar to Roll of Thunder. Amazing story.)

*One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Super popular and well-received.)

EllRay Jakes early reader/chapter book series by Sally Warner (EllRay gets into super funny predicaments and kids can easily identify with him.)

*Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Autobiography told in verse about what it was like to be a young black girl in the 1960s and 1970s.)

*A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Renee (Brings up issues of not being “black enough,” Black Lives Matter, and standing up for what you believe in.)

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia (Love of blues music, ties of family and loyalty, and lead character is a black boy.)

-The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (After her parentsdivorce, she goes to live with her mom and befriends Brandon—and together they set out to uncover the history of racial tension in their town.)

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (Styx is a new friend to the group and everything he does is funny and full of hijinks and surprises.)

-As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds (Genie and his brother go to Virgina and spend time with their blind grandfather, and learn to ask questions and learn more about their family’s history.)

-The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley (Brings up the history and culture of Harlem.)

*Crossover by Kwame Alexander (A novel told in verse about two black twin brothers and the pressures of school, basketball, sibling rivalry, and more. Story is very relatable.)

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott (Good for ages 7 and up, lead black character.) fadv

Chapter books– Hispanic Heritage:

*First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez (punk rock Malu starts a band and fights for the right to express herself and her culture)

*Me, Frida, and the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes (Lead characters are Hispanic and finding the love for their culture while also uncovering a mystery.)

*Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Newbery Award winner, excellent story, and amazing background/embracing of Hispanic culture and family.)

*Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (Absolutely hilarious and for fans of the Percy Jackson series. Great depiction of Cuban culture and folklore.)

Sofia Martinez: The Marigold Mess by Jacqueline Jules (Excellent series, minimal Spanish throughout, lead Latina character.)

*Pedro series by Fran Manushkin (Excellent early reader series with a lead Latino character, engaging stories, and minimal Spanish throughout.)

*Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina (Absolutely hilarious and a great introduction to Hispanic culture and Spanish language for early readers.)

*Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo (As a Mexican-American, she was expected by her parents to marry and keep to her home, but she wanted adventure and discovery—great to show success and someone to look up to.)

Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez (Sarai wants to help her grandparents keep their home and will do absolutely everything.)

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres (Stef wants more free time outside of working at her parent’s taco truck.)

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano(Weaves together Mexican, Texan, and American culture together with a delightful fantasy.)

*The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel (As a Guatemalan-American, Quijana works hard to learn more about her culture.)

*Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (AMAZING graphic novel about celebrating Dia de los Muertos.)

Chapter Books–Native American Heritage:

*The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich (An Ojibwe girl and her everyday life—recommended instead of The Little House on the Prairie series.)

Stone River Crossing by Tim Tingle (A runaway slave and Native American child befriend and protect one another).

*Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Basically Percy Jackson except based in Navajo religion with a lead Native character and awesome plot.)

*Who Was Maria Tallchief by Catherine Gourley (Part of the Who Was/Is? Series, focuses on famous Native ballerina.)

Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac (Historical fiction of a Mohawk boy in the 1400s.)

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Looks at interaction between white settlers and natives in the 1700s from the native POV.)

Chapter Books about Immigrant and Refugee Experience/New Students:

*Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Inspired by the author’s refugee experience after the Fall of Saigon.)

My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (Biographical story about Diane coming home from school to find her parents totally gone—they were picked up by ICE as undocumented. Read the adult version and loved it.)

*Refugee by Alan Gratz (Look at the experiences of three different characters who are fleeing for their lives for something better. Great in building empathy.)

A Long Walk to Remember by Linda Sue Park (Two stories told about two different girls at different times about their immigration experience.)

*Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi(Absolutely hilarious and she talks about what it was like growing up as an undocumented immigrant while trying to assimilate to American culture.)

*The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz (Incredible story about being a refugee and what it was like through the journey and what made the kids leave from South America. HIGHLY recommend to build empathy and understanding about why people are fleeing and choosing to live undocumented here in the US.)

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf (Incredible look at the refugee experience and activism.)

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy (A Puerto-Rican young girl tries to assimilate to the U.S.)

Chapter Books with Diverse Characters and Message of Welcome/Love:

*Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (Each student in a class shares their story about immigration, being black, etc. Amazing story with an awesome message at the end.)

*The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (All characters are diverse, with real and relatable stories—brings up race and gender identity. *Graphic novel.)

*Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero (Re-telling of Little Women with a blended family who protests together and goes through many hardships together. Graphic novel)

Chapter Books–LGBTQ:

*George by Alex Gino (George knows that although people see a boy, she knows she is a girl.)

*Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Growing up in middle school and exploring feelings of love—gay love here is normalized.)

*Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (A girl is struggling with the divorce of her parents, goes to camp, and she finds herself falling in love with another girl.)

*Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (Features a lead character of color who deals with discrimination, as a hurricane comes into town, she finds she begins falling in love with her friend.)

*Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker (Zenobia knows that others see her as a boy, but she knows she was born a girl, and she tries to solve who is behind the hateful comments she has been receiving.)

*The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (A lead male character falls in love with Percy and then another camp counselor.)

*The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (Normalizes a character who is transitioning, going through menstruation for the first time, and lots of Hispanic cultural norms and practices. HIGHLY recommend.)

*One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock (Two friends fall in love in the south in the late 1970s, it is not easy.)

A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner (Silas does a report card on the first ever out baseball player in history, and this presentation is like the first step towards telling others who he actually is.)

King and the Dragonflies by Kacecn Callender (A black lead character learns more about himself through his grief in Louisiana.)

Chapter books—Disabilities:

Roll with It by Jamie Summer (A girl named Ellie has big dreams, and her wheelchair will not stop her!)

*You don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino (Talks about race and also the hearing-impaired community.)

*El Deafo by Cece Bell (Wonderful graphic novel depicting what it is like to be hearing-impaired.)

*The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Durng the 1940s, Ada leaves her mother who is ashamed of Ada’s twisted foot. Ada and her brother live with an older woman who loves Ada unconditionally.)

-The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus (Two black boys that are in “special education” are tired of being labeled as criminals or like they are “other” because they are in special education classes. Talks about race as well.)

-Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (Main character loves repairing old radios, but she is the only deaf person in her class. She learns about a whale, Blue 55, who cannot communicate with other whales and she wants to find a way to help.)

*Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos (An amazing story about a nonverbal girl who is so in love with space.)

*Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Absolutely highlyrecommend—lead female character lives with cerebral palsy and is by far the smartest person in her class, but no one knows it.)

Chapter books–Divorced parents:

*Blended by Sharon Draper (A biracial child tries to navigate a new life between two different families. Also discusses race.)

-The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen(Lincoln’s life is falling apart when his parents decide to divorce and he focuses on imagination and creativity to get through.)

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein (Billy’s parents have separated and he is not happy—he turns to books to make himself feel batter UNTIL he realizes that maybe his books are coming to life?)

*Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (The series focuses on two kids who are working through their parents’ divorce.)

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff (Focuses on custody arrangements and what that is like for a girl named Winnie.)

Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe (Wren is 9 and feels like her family has completely changed when her dad moves out.)

-Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder (Rebecca’s mom moves her and her brother to Atlanta, where she learns to fit in with a new school and deal with the breakup of her family.)

What To Read…For Adults

I focused mainly on the black experiences, voices, etc—though in the White Privilege category, there are quite a few white voices (as a disclaimer). As with the kids list, the books that have the asterisk are ones that I have read before and truly enjoyed/have come highly recommended. I tried to find books that touched on all different aspects of the black experience—ex: school-to-prison pipleline, mass incarceration, BLM, police brutality, whitewashed feminism, systemic racism, religious racism, etc. but of course I could have missed some. One final note, similar to the kids lists, I tried to stay away from books about slavery (at least when it comes to fiction.) Of course this narrative is super important, but there are SO many books that talk about slavery—so there is plenty for everyone to choose from with a Google search (I just felt like I wanted to focus on other narratives). **I am definitely not saying that the history and fictional/nonfiction books about slavery are not important (they so are!), but I can speak for myself when I say that it is a common theme that is constantly being brought up in schools, chatrooms, articles, etc. and I know I personally wanted to branch out and learn about things I have never heard about like—Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Riots, redlining/residential racism, etc. BUT, if they read books about slavery, it should be from a black person’s point of view or from a black voice. In general, I think that it’s important to also read books about black people THRIVING and not just struggling.

One final note, similar to the kids lists, I tried to stay away from books about slavery (at least when it comes to fiction.) Of course this narrative is super important, but there are SO many books that talk about slavery—so there is plenty for everyone to choose from with a Google search (I just felt like I wanted to focus on other narratives). **I am definitely not saying that the history and fictional/nonfiction books about slavery are not important (they so are!), but I can speak for myself when I say that it is a common theme that is constantly being brought up in schools, chatrooms, articles, etc. and I know I personally wanted to branch out and learn about things I have never heard about like—Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Riots, redlining/residential racism, etc. BUT, if they read books about slavery, it should be from a black person’s point of view or from a black voice. In general, I think that it’s important to also read books about black people THRIVING and not just struggling. So that is why I also included some general fiction from black voices that seem a little more lighthearted compared to the other titles. I know that racism and prejudice is a daily occurrence, and often it is hard to think of “lighthearted black fiction,” but these narratives are super important too.

~Jamie Garcia, Early Literacy Specialist

Black/African American Experience/Black Voices:

*Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (A black nanny is stopped and accused of kidnapping the white child she watches. Fiction.)

*I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (A black woman explains what it has been like for her dealing with racism throughout her life. Nonfiction.)

*The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (A story about two black twin sisters who live very different lives. One is living in the south with her black daughter, the other is passing for white. Fiction.)

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (Looks at the lives of three different women before and after the Civil War. Looks at midwifery and injustice. Fiction.)

-Africaville: A Novel by Jeffery Colvin (A family settles in Novia Scotia with other freed slaves and build a community of free people. Talks about their struggles throughout the generations. Fiction.)

*When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele (A memoir about what it is like to be a black woman in America as well as the co-founding of the BLM movement. Nonfiction.)

*Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall (Calls for the need for intersectional feminism. Amazing. Nonfiction.)

*Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (African American experience, immigrant experience, and black feminism. Anything by this author is perfect. Nonfiction.)

*Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (A black father writes to his black son about what it is like being black in a white supremacist society. Anything by this author. Tragic. Nonfiction.)

*Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (A black man is wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the death of a white female. Even though it was clear that he did not do it, the cops were out for him from the start. This is his story, told by his lawyer, who fought for him to be freed off of death row. Nonfiction.)

*Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Classic in the realm of black literature. Looks at what it was like being a black woman in the 1930s. Fiction.)

*The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Absolutely life-changing and tells the experience of a black woman and her sister. TW: *does talk about rape and incest. Fiction.)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (A nameless narrator in Harlem looks at growing up in the South, attending a Black College, moving to Harlem, and the daily prejudices living as a black person in the US. Fiction.)

*The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (A black girl dreams of being a white, blue-eyed girl. Investigates the reinforced societal beauty standards. Fiction.)

*The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (This is a Young Adult book with adult interest. Talks about the BLM movement and police brutality. Fiction.)

*The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Absolutely heart-wrenching, honest, and a page-turner of a novel about escaping the south. Hard to read at points. Fiction.)

White Privilege:

*What Does it Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy by Robin DiAngelo (My all-time favorite white racial literacy book. Touches on every cultural, racial, and ethnic group and how to be a better white ally. Nonfiction)

*White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racismby Robin DiAngelo (Also wonderful. Nonfiction.)

*White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (Short read, I learned so much from this title. Nonfiction.)

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving (The author writes about how her awakening that “colorblindness” and “helping people of color” were harmful strategies and worldviews by reinforcing racial stereotypes. About white privilege in everyday life. Nonfiction.)

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise (Looks at ways in which the deck is stacked against people of color and benefits the white population. Nonfiction.)

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal M. Fleming (Investigates how racism is discussed in classrooms, the media, popular culture, social media, etc. Nonfiction.)

White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society by Kalwant Bhopal (Looks at the structural advantages of being white, racial injustice in the US and the UK, and the myth of the post-racial society. Nonfiction.)

Racism (History, Systemic racism, etc):

*Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (In order to dismantle the racist system, you must understand HOW our system is racist. This is the book to learn how. Nonfiction.)

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (Looks into residential segregation, historical and contemporary racial zoning, racist loan distribution, etc. Nonfiction.)

*The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (Looks at the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration/over-policing of the black community and people of color. Nonfiction.)

Why Are All the Black Students Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Racism by Beverly Daniel Tatum (The psychology behind racism. Nonfiction.)

-The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby (This is about how the American church has helped to reinforce racist ideas and practices. Nonfiction.)

The Cross & The Lynching Tree by James H. Cone (This is a theological look at comparing the crucifixion of Jesus to the lynching deaths of black bodies. More on the religious side. Nonfiction.)

Anti-Racism Work:

*Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad (Mix of a workbook, history of racism, and memoir. If you want to do serious antiracism work, this is the book to start with. Nonfiction.)

*How to be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Gives action items and explains that being ‘not racist’ is NOT enough. Nonfiction.)

*So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of white supremacy, systemic racism, etc. Part memoir, part call-for-action, part historical monograph. Very timely. Nonfiction.)

Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue (Gives readers the courage, language, and means to talk about racism in our daily lives—with coworkers, family, friends, etc. Nonfiction.)

*Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Racism by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Provides new framework for seeing racism, dismantling it, and countering racism. Also love the section on whitewashed feminism/white non-intersectional feminists. So important. Nonfiction.)

*This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand (Learn how to dismantle racism and take action. Written in a very engaging and accessible way. Nonfiction.)


2 thoughts on “What To Read…

  1. Great list (aside from a certain book I didn’t like…) but I do wish you could have included some Jewish options too…


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