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25+ Diverse Books for Anti-Racist Educators

This month the MAR Education Advocacy Team put together a list of 25+ books (we got a bit carried away with the picture books) for Anti-racist Educators to use in their classrooms and homes.



15 of the 25 book covers from the list on a red background


MAR Recommends: 25+ Books for anti-racist educators.


Delightfully, we had a very difficult time narrowing down our recommended reads list this month. Everyday more and more great books are gifted to us by BIPOC authors to use in our antiracism education. We tried to balance our list with some "classics" as well as some titles you may not have heard about before. Either way, it was HARD to keep it to just 25 books. You will see how that worked out for us when you get to picture books.


So here is a list of 25+ books, ranging in ages, subjects, and experiences, you can use at home or in your classroom as an anti-racist educator.


Happy reading!

Kerry


Board Books, Babies, Preschool


Antiracist baby By Ibram X. Kendi

This joyously illustrated board book shows babies having fun in a world where all differences are celebrated and offers simple but meaningful steps to raise anti-racist kids. It keeps the focus on the babies themselves, showing how Antiracist Baby acts. On pages showing babies of many skin colors happily playing together on a big blanket, it says, "Anticracist Baby doesn't see certain / groups as 'better' or 'worse.' / Antiracist Baby loves a world that's truly diverse." On pages showing four babies, each one lovingly held close by their diverse parents, the text reads, "Even though races are not treated the same, / 'We are all human!' Antiracist Baby can proclaim!" Antiracist Baby is aimed more at parents than their very young children, but babies and toddlers will still enjoy the vibrant illustrations and the thoughtful message to celebrate all differences. The final step in the list offers both a challenge and a hope: "Believe we can overcome racism." - Commonsense Media


Learning My Rights with Mousewoman is a board book that needs to be revisited many times in order to unpack the fullness of what is embedded within these rights, with just one example being, “This is my body. I have the right to safe touch.” Though Asoyuf ‘s words may resonate first with Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures because of her illustration style, settler readers may be prompted to action when they share the book with their young children and read, for example, “I have the right to healthy food and clean water”, and recall the ongoing boil water advisories on so many First Nations reserves. - Canadian Review of Materials


I am Proud of Me By Margaret Manuel


From the author of the bestselling I See Me comes a new book which follows the life of the same child now older and learning to be proud of his culture, language and what makes him special. I Am Proud shares a powerful message of being proud of who you are, your culture, language and all those things that make you, you. - Goodreads


We All Count: Book of Ojibway Art is the 2013 board book from Native Northwest featuring the Woodland style art of Jason Adair. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, the Ojibwe author has created an engaging board book that features the numbers in Ojibwe and English. Each colour illustration highlights a colour and a counting experience along with pronunciation guide for the Ojibwe numbers. The artist adds a note on the book's back cover about learning to count and the importance of each child being counted as one of a larger community and how as children we learn to count, and read to be counted. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Ojibwe and English using authentic Ojibwe design. Highly recommended. - Kinder Books


Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne


...The parents who own this book will be telling their children to stand up and fight, to get woke and stay woke about the racial issues of today. The clever message of a baby demonstrating these behaviors is a more subtle way to say what so many current books about resistance are saying this year. Fight, invite, demonstrate, show up, call, write letters, campaign, vote, revolt. In 120 words, Mahogany Browne writes the rallying cry for babies, their brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. “Like a good revolutionary,/you never, ever sleep.” Theodore Taylor III’s baby doesn’t smile or coo but has a look of determination and purpose. The baby is here to carry on with the struggle, to keep the fight going. The end product is a clever way to tell the world that the status quo is not acceptable. As it says on the jacket flap, Woke Babies grow up to change the world. - NY Journal of Books


Bonus Board Book:


Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (Board book) by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas


Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race is the book we’ve been waiting for! The team (Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas) did an incredible thing: they explained race and racism to young children. Not only did they do it in a few pages of a board book, but they also provided guidance to the adults who will read it to children. As soon as you open the book, the reader is greeted with colorful representations of the authors and illustrator, as well as a note on the purpose and function of the book. The last few pages provide developmental insight by using direct language to explain the “why and how” of having conversations about race, race-related observations, family diversity, identity terms, stereotypes, as well as prejudice, race, racism, empowerment, and activism... - Social Justice Books


Picture Books


In My Mosque By M.O. Yuksel

Children welcome readers into different mosques to learn about varying activities and services that take place in them. Though many different mosques and children are depicted, the voices call readers’ attention to the similarities among Muslim communities around the world. Yuksel highlights the community eating together; women, men, and children sharing the space and praying together; grandfathers thumbing their tasbihs; grandmothers reading the Quran; aunties giving hugs; children playing. The effect is to demonstrate that a mosque is more than just a building but rather a space where children and adults come together to pray, give, learn, and play. Joyful characters describe what happens in simple, poetic language: “In my mosque, the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes in the air. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends, linked like one long chain.” Aly’s bright illustrations pair well with Yuksel’s words, ending with a beautiful spread of children staring at readers, waving and extending their hands: “You are welcome in my mosque.” The variety of mosques included suggests that each has its own unique architecture, but repeating geometric patterns and shapes underscore that there are similarities too… Both a celebration of and an introduction to the mosque. - Kirkus Reviews


M is for Melanin by Tiffany Rose


Rose’s A–Z affirmation of black children sings with inclusivity and zest. Alongside letters presented in different bold design—the A for “afro” is studded with picks, combs, and brushes—language works to inspire confidence and pride: “Be you. Love you. Always. All ways,” “Acknowledge your majesty and act accordingly.” References to black leaders—Obama (“Our first black president”) and Malcolm X (“Activist. Leader. Revolutionary”)— occur alongside calls for children to define and be themselves, and to “SPEAK OUT for what is right./SPEAK UP when others are silent...” - Publisher’s Weekly


Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner


Years before Rosa Parks's act of civil disobedience, Viola Desmond refused to give up her seat in a movie theater in Nova Scotia. Dragged out of the theater, sent to jail, and charged a fine, Viola returned home and shared her experience with her community, who fought (unsuccessfully) to appeal her case. Debut author Warner's conversational prose is message-driven ("They took Viola to jail. Can you believe it?") while Rudnicki's illustrations, in bright shades of green, red, and orange, are dramatic, if sometimes garish. An appended section on African-Canadian history provides additional background; Desmond's story should prove eye-opening to readers whose civil rights references are limited to American figures. - Publisher’s Weekly


Speak Up by Miranda Paul

With big, colorful scenes and simple rhyming, this uplifting book helps kids see their place in the world and the incredible value of their voice. Rather than show speaking up as a giant event that only the loudest among us can accomplish, Speak Up emphasizes the small, everyday moments that give us all the chance to make things right. Many young readers will relate to the teacher mispronouncing their name or feeling like they have nowhere to sit at lunchtime, and they can see how small gestures can change the outcome. The diversity of families is important, as are the tools that help even a shy child speak up in their own way. - Common Sense Media


My Chinatown by Kam Mak


Fifteen untitled poems, handsomely illustrated with photo-realistic paintings, express the feelings of a young Chinese boy from Hong Kong as he adjusts to his new home in New York’s Chinatown. Grouped by the four seasons, the poems span the time from one Chinese New Year to the next. The simplicity of language and beautiful paintings evoke poignant imagery; phrasing like “ . . . school where English words taste like metal in my mouth” or a scene where an overhead perspective captures the boy and a girl playing chess on the floor with a cat pawing a marker, framing a tender moment. Even though the reader may not know firsthand all of the specific references—Tic-Tac-Toe–playing chicken, sidewalk cobbler, red confetti on streets from firecrackers—what comes through clearly is the boy’s gradual acceptance of his new home place where daily pleasures can be enjoyed without relinquishing memories of the past... The first-person voice and strong composition of art with vivid colors symbiotically make this boy’s personal emotional journey a universal experience. - Kirkus Reviews


Bonus Picture Books:


Under My Hijab by Hena Khan


This lushly illustrated and rhythmically told tale informs about and reflects the richness of experience among Muslim women. Though Under My Hijab is about the headscarf, it is also about the full humanity of those who choose to wear it. In artfully revealing the personalities of each woman, in public and private, the wearing of hijab is demystified, and we see women with a full range of experiences, occupations, and expressions of self. Kids will love especially the quirky artist aunt with color-dyed hair and the wooden-block-breaking cousin who also dances wildly in the living room.

There's much common ground here between story and reader. The simple rhyming text can feel a bit forced, at times, but overall is quite enjoyable. The colorful and lifelike illustrations are as straightforward as the text and ably communicate the messages of diversity and strength that make this book a winner for any family or school bookshelf. - Common Sense Media


We March by Shane W. Evans


An African-American family awakens before dawn to prepare for the historic March on Washington in August, 1963. In this stirring companion to Underground (2011), Evans captures a pivotal event in the struggle for equality and civil rights in America. The family joins neighbors to pray at their church, paint signs and travel by bus to Washington. They walk and sing and grow tired but “are filled with hope” as they stand together at the Washington Monument to listen to Dr. King speak of dreams and freedom. With just one line per page, Evans’ text is spare but forceful. The March has become synonymous with Dr. King’s grandiloquent speech, but Evans reminds readers that ordinary folk were his determined and courageous audience. The full-page paintings depict a rainbow of people holding hands and striding purposefully. One illustration in particular, of the father holding his son high on his shoulders, echoes a painting in Underground, in which a father holds his newborn child high up toward the sky. The strong vertical lines used for the arms of the marchers mirror the intensity of the day. Share with readers of all ages as a beautiful message about peaceful protest and purposeful action. - Kirkus Reviews


We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom


...Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators’ respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child’s narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a “black snake” will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. “Now the black snake is here,” the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren’t likely to be frightened due to Goade’s vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting “those who cannot fight for themselves” and understanding that on Earth, “we are all related.” Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles… - Kirkus Reviews



...Picture-book biographies are inherently difficult to execute and are often at risk of being too text heavy. But Maclear strikes a good balance between informative and engaging as she narrates Fujikawa’s artistic development; her experiences in California, Japan, and New York; and the different people who helped her or attempted to stand in her way. When her publisher insisted there was to be, “no mixing white babies and black babies” on the page, Fujikawa “would not budge. She looked the publisher in the eye and said: ‘It shouldn’t be that way. Not out there in the streets. Not here on this page. We need to break the rules.’ Then she waited for them to rethink their decision.” The biographical backmatter, including a timeline, photographs, select bibliography, and a combined author and illustrator’s note, delves into how influential and inspiring Fujikawa remains today… - Quill & Quire




“Cone is the tip of the minaret so tall. I hear soft echoes of the prayer call,” begins this charming picture book which explores a variety of everyday shapes and angles, as experienced by Muslims of diverse skin tones, who are depicted living, playing, and worshiping together… Amini takes care to give detail to demonstrate the ethnic diversity of Muslims: a dark-brown complexioned woman, who appears to be of African descent, has neat cornrows with traditional hair accessories, while some light-brown complexioned women have intricate henna markings on their hands and faces. These subtle cues, as well as the different styles of head coverings worn by the men and women in the book, deftly acknowledge the myriad Muslim cultures that exist. - Social Justice Books



Middle Grades


Betty Before X By Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson


A passion for social justice blossoms during the middle school years for the girl who grew up to become Dr. Betty Shabazz. Loved but unwanted by her mother, 11-year-old Betty finds solace in friends and church. In 1945 Detroit, Betty’s African-American church community is a hub for activism in the face of Jim Crow racism, police brutality, and economic inequality. With renowned guests such as Thurgood Marshall and Paul Robeson coming to speak and perform, Betty and her friends are swept up in the fervor and demand for social justice that would become a movement. They volunteer for the Housewives’ League, a group that encourages the community to give its dollars to black-owned and -employing businesses. But the movement is also personal for Betty, who struggles to find her place in a world that treats brown-skinned black girls as lesser—less beautiful, less worthy, less deserving. Authored by her daughter Ilyasah Shabazz in collaboration with Watson, this moving fictional account of the early life of the late civil rights leader and widow of Malcolm X draws on the recollections of family and friends. The result is a heart-rending imagining of Shabazz’s personal challenges as well as a rare, intimate look at the complex roots of the American civil rights movement. - Kirkus Reviews


Brown Girl Dreaming By Jacqueline Woodson


This memoir in free verse retraces the mundane, beautiful, and dramatic periods of her childhood, and it's absolutely beautiful and captivating. Brown Girl Dreaming makes readers feel like family. Not everyone grew up an African American female in the South during Jim Crow; not everyone grew up as a Jehovah's Witness; and many people have never lived in New York City. But, in Woodson's rhythmic verse, readers will find reflections of themselves. The intimacy of family, the warmth of friends, the joys of imagination and discovery, and the worries of growing up, being lost, and being left behind all are recognizable. Woodson captures childhood in all its color and shades of gray. Parents and kids alike will fall in love with her language -- and may even forget they're reading poetry rather than a traditional memoir. - Common Sense Media


Count Me In By Varsha Bajaj


This novel is a fantastic introduction to racism, activism, and social change for middle-grade readers. While kids may have additional questions, Count Me In can at least start to explain what readers might be hearing about in the news. The book is heartwarming and well-written, with lots of important messages and worthy role models. Karina may inspire readers to think about how they can create positive change in their own community by using their voice and their friends. This story is a timely and important one, and it offers an honest, heartwarming look into the lives of immigrant families across the country and the difficulties that they face. Karina and her friends are inspiring, and this is a must-read for aspiring activists. - Common Sense Media


Dakwäkãda Warriors by Cole Pauls


As a young person growing up in Haines Junction YT, artist Cole Pauls performed in a traditional song and dance group called the Dakwäkãda Dancers. During that time, Pauls encountered the ancestral language of Southern Tutchone. Driven by a desire to help revitalize the language, he created Dakwäkãda Warriors, a bilingual comic about two earth protectors saving the world from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches. Pauls’ Elders supported him throughout the creation process by offering consultation and translation. The resulting work is a whimsical young adult graphic novel that offers an accessible allegory of colonialism. Dakwäkãda Warriors also includes a behind-the-scenes view into the making of the comic and a full-colour insert featuring character illustrations by guest Indigenous Canadian artists. - Goodreads Synopsis


What the Eagle Sees by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger


The co-authors of Turtle Island: The Story of North America's First People (2017) team up again, this time addressing encounters between the Indigenous people of North America and European invaders. A standout overview of Indigenous struggles, this slim volume highlights the scope of influence Europeans had on this continent by going beyond the standard story of English Pilgrims to include the Vikings and Spanish. The book follows a series of nonconsecutive events that highlight the resistance strategies, coping mechanisms, and renewal efforts undertaken by Indigenous nations primarily in present-day Canada and the U.S. Visually engaging, with colorful maps, drawings, photos, and artwork, the book includes modern moments in Native culture as well as history based on archaeological findings. Young readers will be introduced to an Indigenous astronaut and anthropologist as well as musicians, social activists, Olympians, soldiers, healers, and artists. The chapter titled “Assimilation” is a fine introduction to Indigenous identity issues, covering forcible conversion, residential schools, coercive adoption, and government naming policies. By no means comprehensive in their approach, Yellowhorn (Piikani) and Lowinger have focused on pivotal events designed to educate readers about the diversity of colonized experiences in the Americas. Sections in each chapter labeled “Imagine” are especially powerful in helping young readers empathize with Indigenous loss. Essential. - Kirkus Reviews


Bonus Middle Grade Books:


We rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Wade & Cheryl Willis Hudson


An anthology of poetry, essays, short stories and art designed to lift children up, especially children from traditionally marginalized communities, during difficult times. This collection encourages America’s children to remember their history, learn from it, and choose to be kind in the face of hatred, racism, and oppression. “Throughout history, kids like you / were right there. / With picket signs and petitions….They changed this world for the better. / And you will too,” Kelly Starling Lyons tells readers in her poem “Drumbeat for Change.” Featuring contributions from such writers as Jacqueline Woodson, Ellen Oh, and Hena Khan, and an equally august lineup of illustrators, including Rafael López, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and Javaka Steptoe, every work packs an emotional punch. In his poem “A Thousand Winters,” Kwame Alexander wonders “if words, sentences, and books aren’t enough, anymore” as he reflects on the state of the world and hard conversations with his daughter. A stunning collage by Ekua Holmes accompanies Alexander’s poem; in it, a vivid, violet sky surrounds a sleepy black girl sitting atop her father’s shoulders. Every work in this beautiful collection feels personal and is meant to inspire and comfort. A love song from children’s literature’s brightest stars to America’s Indigenous children and children of color, encouraging them to be brave and kind. - Kirkus Reviews



This is an exceptional book, not only is it beautifully illustrated and accessible for children with fun poems, the research is so impressive! I’ve lived 30 years as a Black woman in Canada and hadn’t heard most of these stories of Black accomplishment and success; thank you education system. The only time we covered people who looked like me was to talk about slavery (and only in the US). Needless to say, I felt really proud reading these stories! Black people have helped build this country and children should grow up knowing that there are legacies of Black innovation, talent, success, love and hope from coast to coast. Like the book says, “Canada didn’t just let you in — you actually helped to build it”. That’s an important lesson for all of us to learn, in a way that’s so easy and charming. - Goodreads


Young Adult



The title really does explain the contents. It’s meant to be a how-to guide for being a better white person. Frederick Joseph has volunteered to be the Black friend for white readers. He’s taken on the job of educating folks, but does remind readers that this is his choice and that Black folks have no obligation to be teaching white people what they need to know about racism and how to be a better human. He also has a secondary purpose of providing affirmation for people of color. There is an acknowledgment of the trauma and pain that he and the other participants have experienced, and he also points to the beauty of the differences in people. The whole book is written in a very conversational manner and he did succeed in making it feel like sitting down to chat with someone about their experiences. There is a bonus of brief interviews with other people so it wasn’t only his voice. During these chats, the reader witnesses many situations and can see the humanity in folks and how to act and/or speak in respectful ways–or not. The information is accompanied with asides pointing readers to Google to get a little background or context or sometimes pointing to Youtube or music streaming services. The media isn’t included, though it would be amazing to have those things embedded or linked in a digital book. I found myself setting aside the book over and over again to satisfy my curiosity. I listened to a lot of music and even saw an incredible slam dunk. It was a bit distracting, but also added a lot to the experience. The conversational style makes this an easy read in one way, but there is no avoiding discomfort. Frederick Joseph shares stories that cannot have been easy to revisit with the intensity it takes to write down in a book. It’s hard to sit with some of the emotions he clearly experienced. Another layer of difficulty is that white folks are forced to look in the mirror and think about how some of our beliefs and the way we move through the world have contributed to creating or maintaining the white power structures and the racism in our culture. We are called to hold ourselves accountable and to also actively disrupt racism. - Rich in Color


This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell


A Guidebook for taking action against racism. The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism. Essential. - Kirkus Reviews


Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism and You By Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi


Award-winning author Reynolds (Look Both Ways, 2019, etc.) presents a young readers’ version of American University professor Kendi’s (How To Be an Antiracist, 2019, etc.) Stamped From the Beginning (2016). This volume, which is “not a history book,” chronicles racist ideology, specifically anti-Blackness in the U.S., from its genesis to its pernicious manifestations in the present day. In an open, conversational tone, Reynolds makes it clear that anti-Black racist ideology in the U.S. has consistently relied on the erroneous belief that African people (and Black people in general) are “dumb” and “savage,” ideas perpetuated through the written word, other media, and pseudo-science. Using separationist, assimilationist, and anti-racist historical figures, a direct line is drawn throughout U.S history from chattel slavery through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the civil rights era, the war on drugs, and #BlackLivesMatter, with plenty of little-known, compelling, and disturbing details inserted. Readers who want to truly understand how deeply embedded racism is in the very fabric of the U.S., its history, and its systems will come away educated and enlightened. It’s a monumental feat to chronicle in so few pages the history of not only anti-Black racism in the U.S., but also assimilationist and anti-racist thought as well. In the process it succeeds at connecting “history directly...to our lives as we live them right this minute.” Worthy of inclusion in every home and in curricula and libraries everywhere. Impressive and much needed. - Kirkus Reviews



Two young women collect stories about race from a diversity of voices. Before they started college, Guo and Vulchi spent a gap year traveling across the country asking 150 people the same question: “How has race, culture, or intersectionality impacted your life?” “The responses,” they write in their startling, moving, and revealing debut book, “were astonishing,” giving eloquent voice to the meaning of intersectionality: the many “overlapping parts” of any individual’s identity, including race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, nationality, ability, age, and physical appearance. Equally astonishing are the sophistication and insight that the authors bring to their collection. By the time they embarked on their research, they were already impressively knowledgeable about race; they had founded CHOOSE (princetonchoose.org) “as a platform for racial literacy,” on which they shared stories from interviewees in the Princeton area; they had spoken at schools; and they had given a TED talk. Their yearlong investigation deepened and widened their perspective. They listened to people who grew up in racist families, some whose parents threw them out for being gay or transgender. Many encountered virulent racism: Traveling with her predominantly black softball team to a city that was home to the Ku Klux Klan, one woman recalls her fear at spending the night in a hotel. The next morning, the team left without stopping for breakfast. A Creole woman in New Orleans discusses the lifetime of secrecy experienced by light-skinned blacks who decide to cross the color line and pass as white. A Japanese-American tells about her family’s internment for 4 years during World War II. “We accepted our way of life just because, culturally, we’re very obedient citizens,” she said, adding, “I still feel that America is the best country that we could be in.” Besides the revelatory stories, the authors provide informative introductions, annotations, and a rubric for talking about identities. Clearly, they hope this volume will lead to social change. As one young Asian woman remarks, “research papers and big words aside, what are you doing to shake things up?” A stirring, inspiring collection. - Kirkus Reviews



This superb blending of art and story broke barriers and won awards, and will speak to any reader who's felt like an outsider and struggled to fit in. In American Born Chinese, author-illustrator Gene Luen Yang uses a rather complex narrative structure that blends folklore and school drama. The first graphic novel to win the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, it was also the first to be a finalist for the National Book Award -- truly marking the coming of age and acceptance of the graphic novel as a branch of children's literature. In addition to its literary complexity, the book promotes solid values of tolerance and self-acceptance. Readers should be savvy enough to understand why Yang introduces a character that embodies negative stereotypes of Chinese people (buck teeth, squinty eyes, bright yellow skin, and he can't pronounce his "r's" or "l's"). American Born Chinese is thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking, and rich in compassion. - Common Sense Media


Adult


Warrior Life By Pam Palmater


...Many people think they understand the lives of Indigenous people and the challenges we face. So too do many people make assumptions about our struggles based on little else but the racist policies and PR campaigns of colonial governments past and present, and the corporate media. This book provides a far more thoroughly researched, far more comprehensive account of why Indigenous communities continue to struggle with long-standing issues, and why grassroots movements have yet to win freedom and justice for all. Palmater usefully explains differences between traditional ways of governance, and systems based on elected chiefs. She analyzes controversies involving the AFN, settler governments, and resource companies. She describes how seemingly positive concepts, such as democracy, reconciliation, and nation-to-nation relations, are often used to distract us from the possibility of real shifts in power. On every page, Palmater is attentive to the complex relationships between public policy, the shifting legal framework, social movements, and the deep-set colonial agenda of the Canadian state. And she does all this while pointing to additional sources for readers who want more on different subjects. I applaud Warrior Life. Reading it, I was at times overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and frustration. But I also felt proud many times, and welcomed the chance to reflect on themes so central to who I am. While I am well versed on many issues Palmater takes up, I learned a great deal from Warrior Life. - Hamilton Review of Books


Me and White Supremacy By Layla F. Saad


An activist program for confronting white privilege and dismantling white supremacy. Building on a workbook downloaded by nearly 90,000 readers, multicultural writer Saad, born in Britain and now living in Doha, Qatar, delivers “a one of a kind personal antiracism tool” that is meant foremost to teach white readers how to recognize their privilege and “take ownership of their participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy.” Many readers will likely recoil, protesting that they’re not racist, are colorblind, have nothing but benevolent thoughts, and so forth. The author is ready for them: White supremacy, she writes, is not just a comprehensive system, but it also trains those who benefit most from it to “keep you asleep and unaware” of the power that whites hold relative to those of other races and ethnicities: “BIPOC,” as in, “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” Saad enumerates some of the features of that power: Pulled over for a traffic violation, a white motorist doesn’t usually have to fear for their life; any stylist can cut their hair; popular culture considers people who look like them to be representative; and so on. The author’s approach is at first confrontational and righteously indignant, but as she guides her readers—including BIPOCs who may for whatever reason benefit from systems of white privilege and supremacy—through a monthlong series of lessons, including self-critical journal prompts, one has the sense that her method is much like that of Marine Corps boot camp: Tear down in order to build up. A reader’s guilt may rise and crest, buttressed by sweeping damned-if-you-do-or-don’t condemnation for such things as “clinging to pink pussy hats, safety pins, and hashtags over doing the real work.” At the end, however, that reader is assured that even though they may be part of the problem, “you are simultaneously also a part of the answer.” A bracing, highly useful tool for any discussion of combating racism. - Kirkus Reviews


Dancing on our Turtle’s Back by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson


Many promote Reconciliation as a "new" way for Canada to relate to Indigenous Peoples. In Dancing on Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence activist, editor, and educator Leanne Simpson asserts reconciliation must be grounded in political resurgence and must support the regeneration of Indigenous languages, oral cultures, and traditions of governance. Simpson explores philosophies and pathways of regeneration, resurgence, and a new emergence through the Nishnaabeg language, Creation Stories, walks with Elders and children, celebrations and protests, and meditations on these experiences. She stresses the importance of illuminating Indigenous intellectual traditions to transform their relationship to the Canadian state. Challenging and original, Dancing on Our Turtle's Back provides a valuable new perspective on the struggles of Indigenous Peoples. - Synopsis from ARP books



Not being racist is not enough.” The founder of @officialmillennialblack on Instagram delivers a simple guide for those “who wish to join the fight against racism.” Early on, Williams, an experienced social justice activist, describes her process: “I began writing this book in the wake of the series of tragic murders that shocked the world in 2020 and galvanized many who had never considered their role in anti-racism to take action in their own lives.” In this “deliberately small book,” Williams aims to assist those who want to become more active by outlining how to be an effective anti-racist ally. The author lays out a series of focus areas for would-be allies, all of which are meant to “challenge the things we’ve been taught based on white supremacy, and to seek better and fairer ways moving forward.” Williams begins with definitions and first steps, including “Becoming an Anti-Racist Ally” or “What Does Racism Look Like Now?” She addresses common questions and concerns about terminology, misconceptions, and intersectionality. After the introductory concepts, the author moves on to proactive elements—e.g. how to be an ally in your social circle, workplace, and community. Throughout, she uses a conversational tone to explain the reasons behind each of her suggestions, such as examining the diversity of the communities you are a part of, and then suggests simple ways in which to talk with the leadership of those groups about the vitality of anti-racism. Williams is clear that the “allyship journey” is rarely easy or quick, which makes it that much more important to implement sturdy support structures, make space for messy feelings, and celebrate small victories. Williams also provides two helpful lists for further reading, one for adults (White Fragility, Between the World and Me, How To Be an Antiracist) and one for younger readers. Essential reading for our times, with the goal of true human equality. - Kirkus Reviews


We Have Always Been Here By Samra Habib


We Have Always Been Here serves as written proof, not for all, but for those who can hold the text and see themselves in it. As a first-generation immigrant, so many parts of the book made me want to scream: I wanted to yell Habib’s words from the rooftops, I wanted to tell her stories to other people, because they were my stories. They were my complicated feelings and my messy experiences. Habib went through the painful process of learning, unlearning, relearning, and then shared that experience with us. This does not mean, however, that her story stands for all of us. It simply provides a foundation, a sense of community, and an urgency for others who can read this memoir and see themselves. We Have Always Been Here is proof of an experience and narrative that is otherwise at its best manipulated, controlled and diluted, and at its worst nonexistent. It is a narrative of existence, of being together, and therefore of “being” with just a bit more ease. - Institute for Canadian Citizenship (inclusion.ca)


A Note to the Adults:


It is recommended that parents read alongside their children in order to further discussions, particularly if these topics are new for your children. Additionally, the Middle Grades and Young Adult titles may contain more sensitive subject matter which may require further discussion with an adult. Older children and teens may be reluctant to read with a caregiver, but in this case adults can independently read the same title in order to be equipped to answer questions and spark discussions. Above all, let your child lead and guide the discussion, and listen attentively to their thoughts and ideas. Simply asking them questions such as “what do you think?”, “why do you think this happened?”, or “why do you think the character did this?” can be a good starting point.


Read any of these books with your kids? Send us their reviews and we will publish them on our Facebook page and Intsagram accounts. Show us your little Anti-Racist Readers!


If you have read a great book that you think should be on our next list, please email us at Info@MomsAgainstRacism.ca. We LOVE finding great new books!




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