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Since the May 25 murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, the world’s seen many days straight of protest, of resistance, of demands for change, of work—hard work. And this work can look like many things: enduring the tear gas and rubber bullets of police at rallies; running supplies to communities where they are currently unavailable; researching and donating to bail funds and community aid organizations; amplifying Black voices, organizations, and businesses; having uncomfortable conversations with loved ones and colleagues.
It can, of course, also mean reading. We’ve seen the antiracist reading lists: there’s New York Magazine’s roundup, Betsy Bird’s comprehensive piece for Fuse8, the Stacks’ collection of nonfiction, the list goes on. There’s also impactful analysis of these reading lists. In “What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?” Lauren Michele Jackson asserts, “Were one to actually read many of these books, one might reach the conclusion that there is no anti-racist stasis within reach of a lifetime.”
And she’s right. The events of the past several days are fresh, but these books—and these systemic problems: white supremacy, police brutality, centuries of violence against Black people, carried out time and again by white people—have been here. And we’d be naïve to believe that by reading books alone we might somehow upend that reality. We cannot rely on the books to do the work for us, but in the hopes they might serve as catalysts for the self-reflection and group discussion that often preface effective antiracist action, we have developed a list of our own. For those committed to this journey—the reading and the subsequent action—below is a start.
Nonfiction1919, by Eve L. EwingBetween the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi CoatesBreathe: A Letter to My Sons, by Imani PerryCitizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia RankineDemocracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, by Eddie S. GlaudeExcessive Use of Force: One Mother’s Struggle against Police Brutality and Misconduct, by Loretta A. PraterHow to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. KendiHow We Fight White Supremacy, edited by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya RankinMe and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla F. SaadMonument: Poems, New and Selected, by Natasha TretheweyOur Black Sons Matter: Mothers Talk about Fears, Sorrows, and Hopes, edited by George Yancy and othersRest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy MartinStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. KendiThis Stops Today: Eric Garner’s Mother Seeks Justice after Losing Her Son, by Gwen Carr and Dave SmithermanThe Toni Morrison Book Club, by Juda Bennett and othersUnapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, by Charlene A. CarruthersWandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots, by Morgan JerkinsThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel WilkersonWe Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, by Ta-Nehisi CoatesWhen They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandeleWritings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality beyond Black and White, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
The Deep, by Rivers Solomon and othersHome, by Toni MorrisonHitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance, by Zora Neale HurstonHow Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N. K. JemisinThe Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, by Stephen L. CarterThe Nickel Boys, by Colson WhiteheadThe Seven League Boots, by Albert MurraySing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn WardSome Sing, Some Cry, by Ntozake Shange and Ifa BayezaSpeaking of Summer, by Kalisha BuckhanonSong of the Shank, by Jeffery Renard AllenAn Unconditional Freedom, by Alyssa ColeThe Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi CoatesWe Cast a Shadow, by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Books for Youth
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, by Mildred D. TaylorAmazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights, by Mikki Kendall and illustrated by A. D’AmicoFelix Ever After, by Kacen CallenderBlack Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi ZoboiThe Impact of Slavery in America, by Duchess Harris and Gail RadleyJust Mercy (Adapted for Young People), by Bryan StevensonLight It Up, by Kekla MagoonPet, by Akwaeke EmeziA Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice CaldwellStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. KendiThis Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work, by Tiffany Jewell and illustrated by Aurélia DurandTyler Johnson was Here, by Jay ColesThe Voting Booth, by Brandy Colbert
Black Brother, Black Brother, by Jewell Parker RhodesBlended, by Sharon DraperCan I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendships, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, and illustrated by Sean QuallsFor Black Girls like Me, by Mariama J. LockingtonFrom the Desk of Zoe Washington, by Janae MarksGenesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. WilliamsA Good Kind of Trouble, by Lise Moore RaméeLifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, by Evette DionneMemphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by R. Gregory ChristieThe Only Black Girls in Town, by Brandy ColbertWoke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice, by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
Bedtime Bonnet, by Nancy Redd and illustrated by Nneka MyersBoonoonoonous Hair, by Olive Senior and illustrated by Laura JamesCool Cuts, by Mechal Renee Roe and illustrated by the authorHair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti HarrisonI Got Next, by Daria Peoples-Riley and illustrated by the authorIntersectionAllies: We Make Room for All, by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi, and illustrated by Ashley Seil SmithMy Mommy Medicine, by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Shannon WrightSaturday, by Oge Mora and illustrated by the authorSing a Song: How ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ Inspired Generations, by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Keith MallettSulwe, by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti HarrisonThank You, Omu! by Oge Mora and illustrated by the authorThe Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir NelsonWho Will You Be? by Andrea Pippins and illustrated by the authorWhat Is Given from the Heart, by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by April HarrisonYou Matter, by Christian Robinson and illustrated by the author
Booklist and Book Links Features
Writers & Readers: Breaking Boundaries, by Crystal Hana KimWriters & Readers: What Are You Anyway? by John Vercher
Classroom Connections: #OwnVoices AnthologiesClassroom Connections: Collaboration and Resilience Classroom Connections: Speak Up, Speak Out, March OnInside Series Nonfiction: Teaching RaceWriters & Readers: Puzzling It Out, by Lamar GilesWriters & Readers: Lifting as We Climb, by Evette DionneWriters & Readers: The Vitality of the Arts, by Brandy ColbertWriters & Readers: A Word for the Reluctant, by Nic Stone
Further Reading31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism and Resistance, compiled by EmbraceRace ALA Press ReleaseAn Antiracist Reading List, by Ibram X. KendiBooks to Read about Antiracism, by Suyin HaynesDo the Work: An Anti-racist Reading List, by Layla F. SaadElizabeth’s Bookshop + Writing Centre, founded by Rachel Elizabeth CargleLooking for Books about Racism? Experts Suggest These Must-read Titles for Adults and Kids, by Anika Reed and Hannah YasharoffYour Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup, by Katrina Michie
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