Our theme for January 2021 is "Decolonize My Mind". Here are 25 titles ranging from children's board books to Adult non-fiction that you can add to your library today.
If you’re here, I’m sure that like me you are striving to instill antiracist values in your family and your children, and a simple but important step we can take in this direction is to diversify and decolonize the books in our home.
MAR Recommends: 25 Books to Decolonize Your Library
January brings a new year, new beginnings, and, for many, new goals and resolutions. The start of a new year seems to hold even more weight currently, as the majority seem to be quite happy to say goodbye to what has undoubtedly been a very challenging 2020. We hope your family is leaping into 2021 with renewed hope and optimism, and will consider setting some intentions and resolutions which keep our mission in mind of “doing the work, starting at home”.
January also often means a time for cleaning and organizing, especially for us busy moms as we tackle all of the post-holiday tasks and try to make space for new gifts and items in our household. I often use this as an excuse to “purge” books and toys my children have outgrown or those which are otherwise inappropriate in order to avoid the inevitable avalanche of SO. Much. Stuff. Everywhere. This year, I’m approaching this with a slight shift in perspective and a bit of a different lens. The MAR theme for January is “Decolonize My Mind”, and naturally I began thinking about how this applies to the bookshelves in my house. If you’re here, I’m sure that like me you are striving to instill antiracist values in your family and your children, and a simple but important step we can take in this direction is to diversify and decolonize the books in our home.
Providing stories with diverse characters is one thing, but if we want to truly decolonize our bookshelves we need to look further and actively seek out books telling stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour characters created by BIPOC authors and illustrators. These stories need to show perspectives from different races and cultures told in authentic voices with authentic experiences. I challenge you to examine the books your kids are reading. How many only feature white characters? How many feature racialized characters but are written by white authors? The #ownvoices movement on Twitter seeks to challenge this and calls for more authentic representation as well as a platform to showcase these resources. It’s a good place to start if you are seeking out your own books, but as we know us moms are busy, so we’ve done some of the legwork for you!
This month, our booklist features titles suitable for all ages written by authentic voices. Many of the titles are also Canadian, which gives important context relevant to where we live, particularly from Indigenous authors. We hope you find at least one title you’ll read to or with your children, as well as perhaps a title or two to continue your own antiracism journey. Maybe you’ll also consider replacing some of the books in your household which feature only white characters with those containing more diverse representation.
Happy reading, and Happy New Year!
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
“This excellent board book answers questions so many people are asking right now: What can I do? How can I help? Kendi’s choice to speak directly to new parents in this format works quite well. His succinct, impactful prose makes for an accessible guide to anti-racism for everyone.” - School Library Journal
Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak by Robert (Lucky) Budd & Roy Henry Vickers
“With bright and bold illustrations by celebrated Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers, this sturdy board book introduces iconic sounds of the West Coast and supports the language development of babies and toddlers.” - CBC Books
Little You/Kitapisîsin by Richard Van Camp (dual language English/Bush Cree)
“Richard Van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author of the hugely successful Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child. With its delightful contemporary illustrations, Little You is perfect to be shared, read or sung to all the little people in your life—and the new little ones on the way!” - Orca Books
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk