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Staff Reading Recommendations for Racial Justice

Our staff at NCRL is committed to standing against racism. We are committed to listening, learning, and promoting equity and justice. We recognize that uprooting racism requires deep personal and systemic change. Here are some of the resources our staff has found meaningful as we seek to better understand these issues.

Cashmere Community Librarian, Ashley Harrod

An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz

“I am currently listening to this audiobook and am learning a lot about historical events from the diverse perspectives of Black and Indigenous People of Color that are not taught in school history courses. It showcases the ways that racial injustices and disparities have been affecting Black and Indigenous People of Color for generations and seeks to shift our understanding of the contributions of marginalized groups to American society.”

The Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas

“This podcast focuses on book reviews, suggestions, conversations, and more. The most recent episode about The Giver by Lois Lowry, discusses topics of racial injustice, trauma, and the passing on of intergenerational trauma through collective memory.”

Find more information on Instagram and Facebook.

Executive Director, Barbara Walters

Ijeoma Oluo with Charles Mudede: So you Want to Talk about Race | Town Hall Seattle

“I recently watched this town hall and am listening to the audiobook version of Oluo’s book, So You Want to Talk about Race. I am finding it personally inspiring and helpful as I try to understand how I can be a better human and ally.”

The book is available as an eBook and eAudiobook through our Overdrive service and as an eAudiobook through our Hoopla service. Start at www.ncrl.org/ebooks.

Mail Order Library Manager, Mary Lou Guerrero

Black American History Timeline with Cheryl Grills

“I recently stumbled upon this presentation by psychologist Dr. Cheryl Grills while watching the news. She is the first person I heard explain the concept of the violation of civil contracts in Black America. She gives a powerful history lesson and timeline of the oppression of people of color that informs the protests we are seeing today.”

Bilingual Outreach Specialist, Clare Morrison

The Undefeated by Kwame Nelson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

“This book is a powerful depiction of the Black experience in the United States and a celebration of Black heroes throughout history.”

The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story Blog

“This blog is a fantastic resource for learning about books for young readers by Black authors and illustrators.”

Learn more on Instagram and Facebook.

Director of Public Services, Angela Morris

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Knowing how difficult the teen years can be for many people, I was drawn to this story of Starr, an African-American girl, who attempts to balance her love and loyalty for her poor neighborhood with the appeal of the elite and snobbish high school she attends. I love that Starr is smart, courageous, and ambitious, yet understands that there will be difficulties with having a white boyfriend from a different socioeconomic background. Her courage and integrity are tested when she is witness to a fatal shooting of her unarmed friend that could devastate her community and the people she loves. This is a riveting story that highlights both the overt assumptions and concealed biases that we all possess.”

Wenatchee Librarian, Keala Murdock

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

“Recently reinstated to high school curriculum in Alaska after national attention, this coming of age memoir has tough subjects but I considered a life-line in junior high and I know it still holds that power. It holds the space for dialogue on topics that are considered traditionally taboo.”

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

“This book blew me away in a great way. You might be hesitant because of the title but that is the point. I dare you to put this book down once you pick it up! Eddo-Lodge, an award winning journalist, gives a clear insight into race and racism in Britain alongside actions that any citizen across the globe could try. This is an essential read.”

Area Manager, Sharon Reddick

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

“This book is fiction, and has some fantasy and whimsy in it, but is based on the horrors of the underground railroad.”

Book Club Coordinator, Anne Brangwin

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is probably one of my most favorite books... It really opened my eyes to a whole different world than what I was used to growing up. I believe I read it in one sitting.”

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

“Based on a true story of what happened at a reform school during the Jim Crow Era south. This was a book that led me to research further about the actual school this was based on and taught me things that I definitely did not learn in history class.”

Republic Librarian, Cynthia Bonneau-Green

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama

Words of hope with suggestions of how real change can come about peacefully.

Mattawa Librarian, Tiffany Coulson

Miles Morales: Spiderman by Jason Reynolds

“Marvel’s teen superhero, Miles Morales, not only challenges stereotypes in mainstream media but Reynold’s novel opens with conversations about modern manifestations of racism. I loved the book and realized what great conversations it could bring to educational settings accompanied by the article, “Miles Morales: Spider-man and Reimagining the Canon for Racial Justice,” by Mario Worlds and Henry “Cody” Miller from English Journal.”

Project Manager, Kim Neher

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“This was a fabulous novel, and I loved it wholeheartedly. While it’s not a memoir, the author gives one of the protagonists her own experience of moving from Nigeria to the US and discovering that here, she isn’t Nigerian or Igbo (her ethnicity) - she’s just Black. And as a Black person, she must quickly learn all of the coded ways that Americans talk about (or avoid talking about) race. There’s also a wonderful interview she did with Terry Gross on NPR, called ‘Americanah’ Author Explains ‘Learning’ to be Black in the US.”

Peshastin Librarian, Alicia O’Dell

Antiracist Resources and Reads: Lists for All Ages by the Evanston Public Library

“This resource list from the Evanston Public Library offers a great range of materials for all age levels in a really digestible and easy format.”

We Need Diverse Books Website

“We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry. Their aim is to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”

Quincy Librarian, Venita Evens

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

“This is a modern day story about a Black woman who runs into a white supremacist at her work and everything goes wrong. It’s a really moving story.”

Collection Development Manager, Betsey Stahler

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Fendi and Jason Reynolds

“Stamped is a history book that isn’t a history book. Written for youth, it points out that the history of racism, while going way back, it is also our present. Reynolds has a great way of writing that is casual and easy to understand. I would highly recommend it!”

Adult Services Manager, Amanda Brack 

Just Mercy: A True Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

“This incredible story broke my heart and opened my eyes to how much I didn’t know and how much I have to learn. Also, check out Bryan Stevenson’s Ted Talk called “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.””

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

“This book changed the way I see the world. Alexander’s text helped expand my understanding of the deeply entrenched context and history of systemic racism in our country and the insidious ways it manifests today.”

 

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