Antiracist and Social Issue Reads: Books for All Ages

By Kim Bongiorno Reads

By Kim Bongiorno Reads

The Making of Asian America: A History

Erika Lee

$22.00 $20.24

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

$16.00 $14.72

Those of us in our forties on up learned a glossed-over and inaccurate history of the US, particularly when it came to those who were already on the land when it was colonized by fleeing Europeans. This fills in many gaps, and helps the reader see present-day US with clearer eyes.

Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America

Stacey Abrams

$27.99 $25.75

I wanted to better understand voter suppression and how I could help be a part of the solution to it. Stacey has a great way of explaining things so they make sense to a regular person like me, who is not a lawyer or historian or expert in any of this stuff. It motivated and armed me to work for positive changes. Highly recommend to anyone interested in American history in regards to power and politics, on voting, and for those looking to learn more about how to be antiracist.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning

Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds

$18.99 $17.47

If you want to better understand racism in the US, need a tool to explain it to your kids, want to understand what "antiracism" is, want to be an active part of dismantling racist structures but don't know where to start.

So You Want to Talk about Race

Ijeoma Oluo

$16.99 $15.63

If you're trying to be someone who does not hurt or offend people of different races than you, this is the book you'll want to start with. It's an incredible resource that not only breaks down race and racism in America in language we can all understand, it also gives us tools for how to have discussions about it when the situations arise.

How to Be an Antiracist

Ibram X Kendi

$27.00 $24.84

Essential reading for your antiracist education. Get a physical copy and read it with a highlighter in hand.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

Ta-Nehisi Coates

$18.00 $16.56

Thoughts on the similarities between the reconstruction era and Obama's time in office.

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

$26.00 $23.92

Beautiful, moving, informative. The writing is just so, so good I'd stop and savor sentences crafted with magic, stop and allow sentences that punched me in the gut in necessary ways. It's a quick read.

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

Phoebe Robinson

$16.00 $14.72

Laugh out loud while getting a better understanding of racism, feminism, and so many other -isms.

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays

R. Eric Thomas

$26.00 $23.92

Moving, funny, sweet, and thoughtful. His is a story about never quite feeling like he fits in--which many of us can relate to--but with a uniqueness, light, and motivating charge that I'm happy to see in such a fun memoir.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower

Brittney Cooper

$18.00 $16.56

Entertaining while being honest about feminism and growing up female.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Audre Lorde

$16.98 $15.62

Essays that show why she values understanding our differences in order to more effectively empower.

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement

Angela Y Davis

$15.95 $14.67

Shows connections between past and present struggles, explains intersectionality, motivates the reader to action.

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

$13.95 $12.83

His words from 1963 still resonate today.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

Jesmyn Ward

$16.00 $14.72

A must-read after THE FIRE NEXT TIME, this moving, thoughtful, eye-opening collection is full of voices that make an impact.

Intimations: Six Essays

Zadie Smith

$10.95 $10.07

A very “right now” essay collection. It’s short, and takes on 2020 from right before quarantine on through to the summer, peeling layers and seeing things in a way that make the reader feel seen, understood, all while opening our eyes and feelings to much more.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

Keisha N Blain and Ibram X Kendi

$32.00 $29.44

Honey Girl

Morgan Rogers

$16.98 $15.62

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

Jeff Hobbs

$17.00 $15.64

The true, complicated life of a NJ man born into one world but then given a chance to step into another, thoughtfully written by his college roommate after his untimely death.

Mudbound

Hillary Jordan

$15.95 $14.67

If you're using fiction to try to open your eyes and understand what racism does to people, to families, on various levels, read this award-winning novel.

There There

Tommy Orange

$16.00 $14.72

This novel follows a dozen Native Americans as their lives lead up to the day they all end up converging at a modern-day pow wow in California. The authenticity of the voices sharing lives that I have not lived put me in their shoes so I better understood each one of them--and the ties that connect them.

Such a Fun Age

Kiley Reid

$26.00 $23.92

Uncomfortable, intelligent, at times amusing novel about a privileged white woman, the young black nanny she hires to care for her kid, and the fascinating ways their lives intersect because of power, race, and sex.

Ayesha at Last

Uzma Jalaluddin

$16.00 $14.72

Heavily influenced by PRIDE & PREJUDICE, there's drama, romance, humor, and food in this muslim love story. There's also a lot addressed: identity, harassment, tradition, love, addiction, communication, and so much more.

Furia

Yamile Saied Méndez

$17.95 $16.51

Muted

Tami Charles

$18.99 $17.47

Riot Baby

Tochi Onyebuchi

$19.99 $18.39

Fantastic, timely, creative, compelling, moving, telling, raw, important dystopian story about superpowered siblings.

The Gilded Ones

Namina Forna

$18.99 $17.47

Sanctuary

Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher

$17.99 $16.55

A must-read for ages 12+ that takes “What ifs” inspired by the trajectory of the US over the past few years and projects them into a not-too-distant future. Makes us consider our actions and inactions, our power and what we can—or should, should not—do with it.

The Poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo

$12.99 $11.95

Stunning. Raw. Honest. Female. Feminist. Heartbreaking. Wonderful. X is a sophomore in high school in a body that the world says makes her too tempting, with a mother who insists she be a devout Christian (per her own very specific definition) no matter what, with a heart that feels trapped. Her feelings and poems and questions are important for us to not only hear, but listen to.

Monday's Not Coming

Tiffany D. Jackson

$11.99 $11.03

Suspenseful and raw, the author doesn't hold back about the truth about abuse in families, the sinkholes in the educational and social service systems that allow far too many of our girls to tumble in, the things our brains and hearts do to protect ourselves and others from pain. Jumping back and forth in time, this brilliantly written novel is a force, making just the right impact without being gratuitous or patronizing the reader (who will most likely be a teenager).

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

$18.98 $17.46

This is the story of 16-year-old Starr, a girl who witnesses her life-long friend get killed by a police officer while unarmed. She balances between two worlds while the murder makes national news: the one where she lives surrounded by non-traditional families and neighbors who’ve seen it all and gangbangers and business owners in a Black community filled with people whose choices are never easy, and the one where she goes to a mostly-white private school at which she becomes a completely different version of herself so nobody knows about her home world. But it’s so much more than that.

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Jay Coles

$10.99 $10.11

I really liked Marvin, so it was really hard to stay with him as he watched his beloved twin brother make some choices he wished he could have controlled, to discover he was missing and try to find him. And then they do. There is a lot of discomfort to sit with, but I think that's the point. These boys will stay with you, as will Marvin's mom and circle of friends. If you have read or want to read THE HATE U GIVE or DEAR MARTIN, make sure you add this to that list.

This Is My America

Kim Johnson

$17.99 $16.55

A moving, layered, unputdownable teen read about a 17yo Black girl trying to save her dad from death row when her shining star of a big brother gets arrested and accused of murder. Part mystery, part informational expose, part teen coming-of-age, part call-to-action, I gasped, smiled, yelled, teared up, had to calm my racing heart.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight

Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones

$17.99 $16.55

All these two high school girls know about one another is that they go to the same school, one is white, one is Black, and whatever assumptions they've made about each other. While they're (separately) at a football game, a fight breaks out that escalates into a riot that spills into the city. They only have each other to survive it.

Dear Martin

Nic Stone

$9.99 $9.19

As Justyce navigates a contemporary Atlanta where he is still seen more for the color of his skin than the content of his character, he regularly writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a journal, hoping that it will help him put Dr. King’s teachings into practice in order to manage everything that’s thrown at him.

Anger Is a Gift

Mark Oshiro

$10.99 $10.11

Moss's dad is famous for being murdered by Oakland police, leaving him behind, anxious and traumatized. Now a sophomore, he's facing a new police presence at his high school, which both triggers old fears and the need to do something about it.

The Voting Booth

Brandy Colbert

$18.98 $17.46

A look-at-everything-that-can-happen-in-one-day book that's fun and snappy. The main characters' chemistry, struggles, and behaviors are real. Respect, drive, being multifaceted, and finding your person are all wonderfully addressed.

Not So Pure and Simple

Lamar Giles

$17.98 $16.54

Likeable, energetic Del's longtime crush at church is finally single, so he decides to make his move. While pursuing his goal, we meet his family, friends, and community, each a dynamic piece of Del's puzzle, turning this novel into an examination of male toxicity, consent, and honesty.

A PHO Love Story

Loan Le

$19.98 $18.38

Frankly in Love

David Yoon

$18.99 $17.47

A love story about a kid who speaks (literally and figuratively) a different language than his parents. It moves as smoothly as a charming contemporary teen romance, but also addresses racism, identity, family rifts, secrets, pride, expectations, and more.

Felix Ever After

Kacen Callender

$18.98 $17.46

Felix's path to finding first love despite his worries that being Black and queer and trans made too many odds stacked against him is moving and beautiful. From his friendships to his art and how he sees himself, the evolution fills the reader with hope and joy.

This Train Is Being Held

Ismée Williams

$17.99 $16.55

A dramatic, swoony romance between two strangers who meet on a train and inadvertently help each other become who they long to be. Secrets and identity and family ties.

This Is My Brain in Love

I. W. Gregorio

$17.98 $16.54

Two very different teenagers from different cultures come together to save a small restaurant, and beautiful things happen once they let their protective walls come down.

If You Come Softly

Jacqueline Woodson

$7.99 $7.35

A lyrical love story with alternating points of view of two teenagers who only have eyes for each other.

Here to Stay

Sara Farizan

$9.95 $9.15

When JV baller Bijan fills in on the varsity team one night and shines, someone sends out an email to make him look like a terrorist. While he'd rather let it blow over and not make a fuss, that's not always an option. This book is realistic, funny, scary and messy. It's about friendship, identity, family pressure, and what you don't know about the people around you.

The Gravity of Us

Phil Stamper

$17.99 $16.55

Sometimes becoming untethered helps us get a better perspective, reach for things and people we once would not have, and learn more about ourselves than we ever had before. This book is about family, media, mental health, friendship, romance, holding on and letting go. It's for those of us fascinated by how media shapes truth, those of us nerds who love knowing how things work, for those of us who have always looked to the sky, and those of us who love a good romance. I never knew what to expect from anyone or anything, but was never disappointed.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

Ben Philippe

$10.99 $10.11

The author has a way of keeping us entertained with Norris' rich inner (and outer) commentary of things we'd never say, all while providing a slow build and reveal of the meat of the matter, the more serious facets of life in his head, skin, and heart: Who is he, really, and what will happen when he finally takes a good, long look at his own page in the field guide?

Love, Hate and Other Filters

Samira Ahmed

$10.99 $10.11

Ahmed skillfully weaves the high school senior emotional experience--the family drama, the classmate drama, the big stuff, the little stuff, the romance, the friendships, the whole new future just a breath away--with the serious business of how a hate crime can ripple through lives, over and over again.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Junauda Petrus

$9.99 $9.19

It's a love story. A family story. A poem. A song. A perfect teen read. A call to action. A tonic of empathy. A reminder of humanity.

All-American Muslim Girl

Nadine Jolie Courtney

$17.99 $16.55

Allie doesn't look Muslim, and her family encourages her to use that to keep her safe. But there comes a point when she doesn't feel it's okay to do so anymore. Her story is about no longer hiding who we truly are. Growing up. It's about family and exploring history, culture, faith, friendships. It's about being honest and brave, giving people chances--including ourselves.

You Should See Me in a Crown

Leah Johnson

$17.98 $16.54

A heart-happy story about a girl who decides to run for prom queen as a way to get to the school--the future--she wanted, only to have to compete against a new and very interesting girl at school.

Cemetery Boys

Aiden Thomas

$17.99 $16.55

Yadriel’s family has been so deeply steeped in gender roles set up by old traditions tied to magic that they refuse to see him as the young man he truly is--but that doesn't stop him. This funny, moving, fast-paced novel is original and exciting in how it addresses family, gender, identity, tradition, and magic.

Black Sun, 1

Rebecca Roanhorse

$27.99 $25.75

Perfectly paced story featuring a strong cast of characters, each with a unique voice and perspective as they hurtle toward a prophesied event that could change everything.

Cinderella Is Dead

Kalynn Bayron

$18.99 $17.47

I love a fresh retelling, and this one was cool, featuring a Black queer lead character and lots of great new angles to the tale. It starts centuries after the Cinderella story we know, and then twists in a fresh way to backtrack and turn everything on its head.

Legendborn

Tracy Deonn

$18.99 $17.47

King Author, but make it a captivating teen read featuring Black girl magic, ancestry, racism, romance, and found family.

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope

$18.99 $17.47

An empowering, attention-keeping series of intertwined magical stories that will knock your socks off.

We Set the Dark on Fire

Tehlor Kay Mejia

$10.99 $10.11

A dystopian fantasy in which Dani and the other girls are put on a path to either be the powerful wives or pleasure wives of the men who choose the two of them. But what if the girls want something different?

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Rhoda Belleza

$9.99

A lone heir to a destroyed dynasty bent on revenge and a refugee who worked his whole life for a seat at the table clash in this space opera, then are forced to work together to fight an evil bigger than they ever imagined.

Lucky Broken Girl

Ruth Behar

$8.99 $8.27

Ruthie's leg is broken so badly she ends up in a body cast, bedridden in their apartment for almost a year. This is when things start to become beautiful. Ruthie's observations as her bones heal and she processes change after change while laid up in bed are honest and eye-opening. She is surrounded by people of all different cultures and histories, religions and lifestyles. The common threads between them all quietly tie to the little girl, helping lift her when she's at her lowest--and she manages to lift them right back.

A Wish in the Dark

Christina Soontornvat

$17.98 $16.54

A cat-and-mouse chase story with two points of view that shines a light on the unfair advantages of those of keep themselves in power by ensuring many others never get it. And what to do to even the scales to something much more just.

Show Me a Sign

Ann Clare Lezotte

$18.99 $17.47

Hits the right voice and storytelling for the reader age (8-13), and somehow touched on everything from grief to guilt, friendship, acceptance, community, bigotry, racism, colonialism, feminism, ableism, love, hope, change, and so much more. This historical fiction put a spotlight on the unique region of Martha's Vineyard where deafness is typical so everyone communicates in sign language to ensure no one misses out due to the lack of one sense. Add in the presence of the Freeman and Native population and what was going on at the time is key to nailing home points of community, differences, seeing people for who they are not what they are or can/can’t do.

They Called Us Enemy

Steven Scott, George Takei, et al.

$19.99 $18.39

This graphic novel helps kids (and adults) better understand what made him who is is: how at 4 years old, he and his family were sent off to Japanese internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They and their 120,000 fellow detainees were accused of one crime, which was having Japanese heritage while living on American soil. This moving non-fiction account shows us what history books haven’t about America’s dirty secret.

Lupe Wong Won't Dance

Donna Barba Higuera

$17.98 $16.54

Hurricane Child

Kacen Callender

$7.99 $7.35

The main character's life is hard, but she clings to hope in such a real, determined way at times. Her love and her voice must be earned, and that is something I think our kids need more examples of. What a beautiful tale of one girl wanting to find her mother, to understand the ghosts around her, and accidentally revealing the ones inside her, while she's at it.

When Stars Are Scattered

Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

$12.99 $11.95

This is the true story of Somalian refugee Omar, who had to flee to a Kenyan refugee camp at four years old with his nonverbal little brother. His story is moving and hopeful, sad and frustrating, and is laced with both gentle humor and unflinching honesty, perfectly done for the middle school crowd (ages 9-12) on up.

Echo

Pam Muñoz Ryan

$19.99 $18.39

Dazzling historical fiction that ties three stories together about destiny, hope, and survival under the darkest of circumstances.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

David Barclay Moore

$7.99 $7.35

12yo Lolly is at an intersection where his childhood and his young adulthood are criss-crossing not long after the unexpected death of his brother. As someone who always followed the instructions, he feels pushing and pulling from all directions, unsure of what to do. It is through the gift of bags of LEGO from his mom's girlfriend that he begins to build a path of his own creation. What a gift it was to watch what happens next.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Kwame Mbalia

$17.99 $16.55

Tristan is still grieving after being unable to save his best friend during a school bust accident, despite being big and strong and wanting to always be there for him. When his friend's journal is taken from him, he chases the (tiny) thief, and OOPS tears a hole in the sky that lands him and the would-be their to a land filled with the characters of stories and legends Tristan grew up hearing. As Tristan learns of his part in fixing what mess he finds upon arrival, we are taken along on an adventure that makes you laugh out loud, fills your heart, and reminds the reader of the importance of processing one's grief, remembering our history, and doing the work to win instead of just hoping for it.

Genesis Begins Again

Alicia D. Williams

$17.99 $16.55

I want all the kids who get lost in music, who forget about the baggage their parents throw on them when laughing with friends, who work hard but deserve so much time off, to read this and learn how to see their beauty and begin again.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Janae Marks

$16.99 $15.63

Zoe is an incredible kid full of passion. This was such a good story about a kid who believed she could make a change, and did the work to do so.

A Good Kind of Trouble

Lisa Moore Ramée

$7.99 $7.35

Shayla is a very realistic 7th grader who has two best friends, a big crush, some major assumptions about her peers, and a deep desire to never, ever ruffle feathers. This a great story about the changes that happen in late middle school between friends, with our heart, and all around us. But it's also an important story about assumptions, choice, voice, and race. Being Black. Caring for Black people (on an individual level and in general). Wanting to do something about how Black people are treated in the US. A great alternative to THE HATE U GIVE (ages 12+) for younger readers ages 8-12.

The First Rule of Punk

Celia C. Pérez

$8.99 $8.27

As a fan of punk music, the new kid at school, and a Mexican-appearing tween who neither speaks the language nor particularly enjoys some of the more "basic" pleasures of the culture (like spicy food or meat), 12yo Malu struggles with her own identity both at home and among her new classmates. It's about trying to figure out who she is and find her voice in while swimming in a pool of blended tastes, cultures, and interests. Things aren't always tied with a pretty bow, but that makes it all the more realistic and interesting.

Night Wings

Joseph Bruchac and Sally Wern Comport

$7.99

Survivalist action story where the Native American main character learns about himself while dealing with what feels like an impossible power struggle situation. I felt like I was listening to a storyteller tell it, rather than reading it.

Prairie Lotus

Linda Sue Park

$16.99 $15.63

After the loss of her mother and a long journey, Hanna and her dad are about to start a new life together in a small town in 1880, and she has some very simple wants: but will her being half Asian prevent them from happening? This wonderful story told in Hanna’s clever, observant, and at times humous voice has a Little House on the Prairie vibe but with the added layer of acknowledging racism and ignorance in the heartland at the time.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Jason Reynolds and Alexander Nabaum

$17.99 $16.55

It started with best friends and booger talk, making me laugh out loud. Then I got to know a collection of middle schoolers better, working toward the mystery of an upside-down flying school is. But by the time I was halfway through, I realized what it really was: a collection of love stories. Not romantic ones, but the ones between friends, family, peers, and others. Just because they aren’t swoony, doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly

$9.99 $9.19

I felt like I was a bystander hearing the story as it was told in an intimate setting by animated storytellers who did not mince words. I laughed and gasped and did a double-take at what unfolded, and in the end all the very important life lessons were imprinted on me, despite all the fun I had.

Wishtree

Katherine Applegate

$16.99 $15.63

A new family moves in and someone in the neighborhood makes it clear that their kind are not welcome. So a very special tree and its birdy BFF decided to intervene. What happens is beautiful. This book is about community, acceptance, friendship, life, love, nature.

Amina's Voice

Hena Khan

$7.99 $7.35

Middle schooler Amina feels like everything is changing, and begins to question whether she should, too. Then a hate crime happens at her local mosque.

New Kid

Jerry Craft

$12.99 $11.95

Not only was the book funny and entertaining, it was layered and informative. It didn't TACKLE important topics, it simply showed the realities of this boy's (and surrounding characters') life, opening windows to people whose experiences aren't the same.

All Because You Matter

Tami Charles and Bryan Collier

$17.99 $16.55

Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice

Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood, et al.

$18.99 $17.47

Through this collection of poems, the readers not only learn what it means to be “woke,” but why it’s important, and how to live that life for yourself and others. Vibrant, clean, illustrations support the themes of each two-page spread, labeled in the corner for our minds to view the image through the lens of that word: body positivity, empathy, forgiveness, gender, immigration, privilege, resistance, and many more. The hope is tangible, the heart is lifted, the kids become ready to rock the boat for all the right reasons. A solid call-to-action book for kids even older than the intended age range.