This month, MAR explores the theme of Reproductive Justice. As mothers, caregivers, or birthing people, it’s our responsibility to examine the narratives around our reproductive rights and body autonomy and to lean into our intuitive knowledge of our bodies. We must teach our children these topics in a way that empowers them to love, protect, and honour their bodies. Learning our collective reproductive rights is important as is assessing our differing personal experiences in pregnancy, birth, IVF, postpartum care, and the many other ways the most intimate healthcare is withheld or granted depending on privilege.
This month’s book list has been compiled as a group effort by our MAR volunteers and addresses themes of Reproductive Justice, body autonomy, consent, abortion, IVF, birth and birthing, family composition, and feminism (not just white feminism). Here are 25+ titles ranging from children's board books to Adult non-fiction relating to Reproductive Justice that you can add to your library today.
"...as a birth worker focused on anti-racism and de-colonized modes of practice, it is necessary for her and everyone in her industry to be radical advocates. Her job is to guide her clients to a sovereign experience in a system that is designed to subordinate."
MAR Recommends: 25 Books on Reproductive Justice.
This intro is written as a takeover for the wonderful MAR blogger and teacher-librarian, Catilin Baker, as she takes a short leave to welcome her third child. I, Becky Leyva, MAR Blogger, write this post as a white woman who experienced a safe and carefree path to the birth of my children. As with most experiences as a cis white woman; my voice was heard, my body autonomy respected, and I had choice and power in the decisions that I made in my pregnancy and birth. In learning about the vastly different and often dangerous experiences of many marginalized birthing people, I began to consider what reproductive justice means through the lens of anti-racism and how vulnerable populations are affected by systemically racist and patriarchal systems, and white supremacist ideology when it comes to reproductive rights.
To learn a little more about modern birth work as it relates to reproductive justice, I spoke to my friend and full-spectrum doula, Carissa Reed. Carissa helped me to understand some issues that are affecting birthing people, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. Carissa shared that as a birth worker focused on anti-racism and de-colonized modes of practice, it is necessary for her and everyone in her industry to be radical advocates. Her job is to guide her clients to a sovereign experience in a system that is designed to subordinate.
She shared some history on Black midwives in the 1800s who expertly birthed not only babies in their enslaved communities but also those of their white slave owners. When the medical institution became a profitable one, there was a smear campaign enacted against them, decimating their livelihoods. We also discussed the coercion, abuse, and sterilization that takes place today in Canada against Indigenous mothers and the colonial mindset around making Indigenous birthing practices illegal and enforcing medical systems that are biased and dangerous.
As with most of the topics I research in order to blog on, this one has me steeped in realizations of the depth of my privilege and the ways in which colonization, industry, and capitalism affect us. One actionable conclusion I always return to is teaching ourselves in order to teach our kids. Learning about the myriad of ways in which reproductive rights are withheld will help us to fight for equity on a more focused scale. I encourage you to challenge the systems that are designed to give inequitable care and look at the ways in which reproductive issues are still following a colonized and white supremacist structure. Please use some of these books on this month’s list to teach your children about their own body autonomy and rights and learn about the ways in which other cultures approach pregnancy, birth and all that reproduction encompass.
*This month's list includes several titles by white authors. These books are denoted with an asterisk (*) in the title.
**We always recommend pre-reading books prior to reading them with, or giving them to, your children. This month, due to the sensitive and sometimes traumatic content of the books - especially at the middle grade and young adult level - we strongly suggest you review them first to ensure they are appropriate for your child and that you are prepared for the discussions that could follow.
Board Books, Babies, Preschool
Global Babies by Global Fund for Children
"Appealing photos of babies from seventeen cultures around the globe are woven together by simple narration. Global Babies presents children in cultural context. Diverse settings highlight specific differences in clothing, daily life, and traditions, as well as demonstrate that babies around the world are nurtured by the love, caring, and joy that surround them." -Goodreads Review
Kiss by Kiss / Ocêtôwina A Counting Book for Families by Richard Van Camp
"One kiss, two kiss, three kiss, four! So many kisses and so many more. From bestselling author Richard Van Camp comes a delightful counting book that honors families and can be used to praise your little ones as they learn to count. Ten kisses from your sweet baby might not be enough to get you through this adorable book, so you'll just have to read it over and over!" - Strong Nation Review
Hug? by Charlene Chua
"How many hugs is too many? This girl's had enough! This humorous picture book explores compassion and the importance of setting boundaries. After coughing up a hairball, a girl's cat doesn't feel well. So the girl offers to give her cat a hug, which makes the cat --- and the girl --- feel better. A dog notices and asks for a hug, too. Then some ducks come along asking for hugs. And a skunk . . . and a bear --- and a porcupine! One animal after another comes asking the girl for a hug until she's simply had enough. How much more of this can she take? With spare text and wonderfully expressive illustrations, Charlene Chua has created a playful, funny picture book with an original premise...” -Goodreads Review
*Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
“...Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is a special celebration of the love and joy an adopted child creates for a family.
In asking her parents to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl relives a cherished tale she knows by heart. Focusing on the significance of family and love, this a unique and beautiful story about adoption and the importance of a loving family.
A beautiful adoption story, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born also speaks to the universal childhood desire to know more about the excitement, awe, love, and sleeplessness that a new baby brings to a family.
Tell me again about the night I was born.
Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents.
Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms.” - Goodreads Review
* Love Makes A Family by Sophie Beer
This minimally worded and vibrantly illustrated board book depicts a diverse range of loving families spending time enjoying each other’s company. We see two mothers tucking their children up for the night, a dad playing tea parties with his daughter in a tree house, and two fathers bathing their kids. An older carer (possibly a grandparent) celebrates alongside the children at a birthday party. Dual-heritage families are also featured, as well as a variety of different races and nationalities. -Little Parachutes Review
"For decades, “scooping up” (taking) Indigenous children from their families for placement in foster homes or adoption, was commonplace. This is the story of one of those 20,000 children." -Goodreads Review
Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos
"Using a vibrant tattoo motif, colorful, joy-infused artwork, and playful, melodic words, Ramos and Alcántara’s winning picture book celebrates motherhood at its most inspirational. A child and a mother—both with brown skin, long, wavy black hair, and long, bold limbs—spend their days baking and playing, picnicking and protesting, going to the library and taking road trips. It starts with a honeyed bang: “Your Mama So Sweet, She Could Be a Bakery,” spelled out on a ribbon that could adorn a sailor’s arm as narration in regular type expands on this. Each subsequent double-page spread echoes these words (“Your Mama…”), highlighting how this mom’s “so strong,” “so forgiving,” and “so woke.” Notably, readers see a mom that stands alone, strong and defiant, as she walks into her child’s Parent Night at school and strolls through a neighborhood full of friends and passersby. Ramos conjures jubilant scene after scene with deft language and sprinkles of Spanish, and this tale’s more sublime moments (“Your Mama a Brainiac—mo’ betta than any app”) simply shine. Similarly, Alcántara’s art represents motherhood as a model of ideals and mind spun for modern times, both indebted to and limited by the specific type of mother of color depicted here. Overall, it’s a celebration that’s invaluable and needed." - Kirkus Review
Don't Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
Aria is an African-American girl who’s proud of her show stopping hair “that grows up toward the sun like a flower.” But people keep confusing admiration with acquiescence: strangers, she laments, “are so curious about my hair that they try to touch it without even asking for permission!” It feels like the entire universe has lost its sense of boundaries. In a series of wonderfully expressive, humorous cartoons that mix full-page and spot art, Aria imagines encountering underwater creatures, forest animals, and even aliens who reach for her curls while cooing, “How do you get it so big?” She contemplates hiding; she loses her temper (“That’s it. That’s enough. DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR!”). Then she resolves to set limits, and, in speaking up for herself, she begins to feel free, respected, and in charge of her own body again. Storytelling by Miller (Princess Hair) is frank, funny, and revelatory, with a beleaguered but never beaten protagonist with whom readers will instantly connect. And her book embraces audiences of all backgrounds, nudging them, in different ways, to a new level of understanding. - Publishers Weekly
*When Aidan Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff
"When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.
When Aidan Became a Brother is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience." -Goodreads Review
*We Listen to Our Bodies by Lydia Bowers
"Body awareness is a key foundation of consent. We Listen to Our Bodies gives children a vocabulary to understand and communicate their feelings, develop personal boundaries, and build their social and emotional skills.
Through body awareness and recognizing how emotions physically manifest, young children can listen to their bodies for clues about how they’re feeling. Their bodies might feel shaky when worried or like one big sigh when calm and relaxed. By recognizing that physical sensations are trying to communicate something, children can understand when they feel unsafe, calm, or in need of healthy touch.
We Listen to Our Bodies follows Deja and her preschool classmates as they learn to build emotional self-awareness by listening to the physical cues of their bodies. Using the book as a read-aloud, educators and families can model the language Deja’s teachers use to support children as they learn body awareness. The author, who hosts workshops and trainings on teaching consent for families and early childhood educators around the country, offers additional activities in the back of the book." - Goodreads Review.
by Sonya Renee Taylor
"Puberty comes with a lot of changes. Celebrate Your Body (And Its Changes, Too!) will help girls understand (and love) their bodies now and as they continue to grow.
For many girls, puberty can be an uncertain time. Celebrate Your Body (And Its Changes, Too!) includes everything girls need to know about breasts and bras, their period, hair here and there, feelings and friends, and so much more. This book will guide them as they learn about (and celebrate) their amazing, changing, one-of-a-kind bodies—during puberty and beyond!
Among puberty books for girls, Celebrate Your Body offers encouraging support while answering real questions that girls have about puberty. Positive, judgment-free, and medically accurate, this book discusses puberty in a way to which young girls can relate.
Celebrate Your Body offers essential insight such as:
An overview of puberty that explains what happens, when it happens, and how she’ll know Explanations of changes in body, mood, and relationships—and how to confidently approach these changes that occur in puberty Practical advice for navigating new situations during puberty—from understanding growth spurts to managing overwhelming emotions to staying safe on social media.
Complete with current, accessible medical information, Celebrate Your Body offers a fresh take on this whole “puberty” thing that will leave girls feeling informed, empowered, and ready for the changes that lie ahead." - Goodreads review
The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
"Eleven-year-old Celi, mixed black–Puerto Rican–Mexican, dreads the imminent arrival of her period, less because of the menstruation itself and more because her mother insists that Celi have a “moon ceremony,” in which the members of her mother’s “women’s circle” will mark the transition from childhood to womanhood. Meanwhile, her best friend is going through a different transition—from girl to xochihuah, “neither / female nor male but both.” While Celi is initially shocked by the adjustment, she loves Mar, as her best friend now prefers to be known, no less. But when other kids, including her crush, Iván, say cruel things about Mar, Celi is torn between the possibility of a first kiss and loyalty to her friend. Salazar’s verse novel is sensitive and fresh, featuring modern interpretations of pre-Columbian coming-of-age traditions that arise organically from the characters. Mar’s heritage is Mexican, and Iván is mixed, black and Mexican; Celi and Mar’s participation in a Puerto Rican performance group and their mothers’ shared, deeply felt Xicana identity allow Salazar to naturally explore cultural nuances not often seen in middle-grade fiction. Genderfluid Mar takes both that name and the masculine pronoun midway through the book, and Celi’s narration adjusts accordingly even if some of their peers’ attitudes do not." - Kirkus Reviews
Keep it Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
"Keiko and her two best friends navigate the drama of seventh grade. Keiko Carter is ready to start seventh grade with her two best friends, Jenna Sakai and Audrey Lassiter. Jenna is finally back from spending the summer with her dad in Texas, and everything is perfect now that the trio is together again. Keiko wants to experience new clubs and activities together, but Audrey has something else in mind: boyfriends. Keiko goes along with it, but Jenna tires of always doing things Audrey’s way. Stuck in the middle of the fight, Keiko wants to make everyone happy. And that’s just the beginning of her troubles. Her mom is never home because of a new job; her sister is hiding something; and Keiko might have a crush on a boy she shouldn’t like. Keeping the peace is what Keiko does, but she must decide if it’s worth sacrificing her happiness this time. In her middle-grade debut, Florence creates a fun, accessible story, touching on the realities of middle school, such as friendships, fallouts, misunderstandings, first crushes, and fitting in. The highs and lows of the girls’ friendship highlight toxic relationships versus true friendship. Keiko is biracial, half Japanese American and half white; Jenna is Japanese American; and Audrey is white." - Kirkus Review
*Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee
"A seventh grader copes with sexual harassment organized and perpetrated by several boys in her class. Mila’s conversational first-person narration makes her experiences immediate and her emotions clear. Confused, frustrated, angry, and scared, Mila feels even worse because she can’t count on her usual circle of friends. Zara seems weirdly envious of the boys’ attention. Quiet Omi hates confrontation. And Max is busy with new student (and his new crush) Jared. He’s also disappointed that Mila won’t take his advice to report the harassment. Meanwhile, Mila’s divorced mom just lost her job, and looking after her younger sister takes more time and energy than Mila has sometimes. Adding in band practice, karate classes, and making some new friends creates a story that feels almost as overstuffed as the typical middle schooler’s life. Dee’s smooth writing style and short chapters, however, keep the action moving briskly. The topic—and the boys’ actions—is potentially upsetting but never described in a graphic or gratuitous way. Mila’s reluctance to involve her mother or other adults feels believable, if unfortunate, and her internal dialogues about what is happening and why ring true. The eventual, hard-won resolution does require adult intervention, and it’s satisfying to see the adults own up to their own shortcomings. Mila and Max present white; Omi is Latinx (from the Dominican Republic), and Zara presents black. This timely exploration of a depressingly common experience should begin some useful conversations." (Fiction. 10-14) - Kirkus Review
*That’s What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart
"A careful introduction to consent and sexual harassment for a middle-grade audience. Sammie Goldstein and David Fischer have been best friends since forever, but lately David has realized that he has a crush on Sammie, and he’s nervous about telling her. When Luke Sullivan, an extremely cool new kid, moves to New Roque, the New York City suburb where they live, David sees him as immediate competition. But all Sammie wants is to continue being friends with David, to keep her spot on the baseball team (she thinks that softball is for girls and that anything for girls must be inferior), and to avoid a romantic entanglement with the obnoxiously aggressive Luke. When David accidentally touches Sammie’s chest, their friendship begins to unravel fast, but Sammie discovers a newfound camaraderie with the girls she had always dismissed as being too, well, girly. Told in the rapidly alternating perspectives of the two white Jewish young people, the plot drags a bit in the middle as the two stumble painfully through constant failures to communicate; the antagonist, who embodies the worst of coercive male attitudes toward girls and women, is not given similar interiority or growth. These flaws aside, the middle grades need more books that address both the ways that misogyny and rape culture surface at that age and how it’s hard but necessary to get the help you need." -Kirkus Review
With Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
"With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free." - Goodreads review
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
"Korey Fields is dead. When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn't how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.
Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.
Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?" - Goodreads Review
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
"Jealousies and deceit resolve into affirmation and artistic self-love. Seventeen-year-old black trans boy narrator Felix Love wants romance but lacks self-understanding. No longer a girl, he thinks “boy” doesn’t always fit either. Felix’s dad deadnames him despite supporting his top surgery and hormone therapy, and he hates his mom for leaving when he was 10. Felix’s self-image shatters when his pre-transition photos and name appear in the school gallery—followed by relentless transphobic texts. A talented visual artist, Felix dreams of an art scholarship to Brown. His uber-rich, down-to-earth best friend, Ezra Patel, helps him navigate contentious relationships at their private art school’s summer intensive and shares copious pot and booze with Felix. But this friendship falters when Ezra starts dating Austin, and Felix thinks he likes Declan—Ezra’s ex and Felix’s rival for the art scholarship. Felix's ethnicity seems to have no cultural richness, surfacing primarily when he’s being marginalized for his race, poverty, and gender. Keeping up with his devastating episodes of self-doubt and anxiety along with the story’s complicated plot details make this an exhausting read, and although Felix ultimately overcomes some oppressive transphobia, the barrage of blatant ignorance and bigotry he faces might haunt readers despite the book's ebullient ending." -Kirkus Review
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
"Teen boy gets hard lessons on dating, friendship, and toxic masculinity. Delbert Rainey Jr. has never been great at dating. He’s been in love with the same girl since kindergarten—Kiera Westing—but has never made a move. And despite his legendary reputation, thanks to an infamous basement party, he is still a virgin. When Kiera and her boyfriend break up, Del seizes the opportunity, even if it means accidentally joining the First Missionary House of the Lord’s Purity Pledge, created after nine teens at Green Creek High School became pregnant, sparking pregnancy pact conspiracy theories. Additionally, the high school has changed its abstinence-only sex ed elective, and Del, enrolled by his parents, is surprised to see parallels—but with advice framed as polar opposites. Del’s naiveté and missteps are wonderful character flaws, and readers will laugh out loud as he plays spy in his high school class for his fellow Purity Pledgers. When a teen mom fights back at the Baby-Getters Club label they’ve been given and creates her own hashtag, members of the community, including Del, have to face up to the double standards and inappropriate behavior boys get away with and are even encouraged in. The novel takes on teen attitudes toward sex and relationships and gender power dynamics in a way that is appealing and thought provoking. Main characters are Black." Kirkus Reviews
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.
With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.
Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists." -Goodreads Review
by Karen Blumenthal
"From award-winning author Karen Blumenthal, comes a deep and passionate look at the riveting history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.
Tracing the path to the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade and the continuing battle for women's rights, Blumenthal examines, in a straightforward tone, the root causes of the current debate around abortion and repercussions that have affected generations of American women.
This eye-opening book is the perfect tool to facilitate difficult discussions and awareness of a topic that is rarely touched on in school but affects each and every young person. It's also perfect for fans of Steve Sheinkin and Deborah Heiligman.
This journalistic look at the history of abortion and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade is an important and necessary book." -Goodreads Review
Killing the Black Body by Dorothy E. Roberts
"This is a no-holds-barred response to the liberal and conservative retreat from an assertive, activist, and socially transformative civil rights agenda of recent years--using a black feminist lens and the issue of the impact of recent legislation, social policy, and welfare "reform" on black women's--especially poor black women's--control over their bodies' autonomy and their freedom to bear and raise children with respect and dignity in a society whose white mainstream is determined to demonize, even criminalize their lives. It gives its readers a cogent legal and historical argument for a radically new , and socially transformative, definition of "liberty" and "equality" for the American polity from a black feminist perspective.
The author is able to combine the most innovative and radical thinking on several fronts--racial theory, feminist, and legal--to produce a work that is at once history and political treatise. By using the history of how American law--beginning with slavery--has treated the issue of the state's right to interfere with the black woman's body, the author explosively and effectively makes the case for the legal redress to the racist implications of current policy with regards to 1) access to and coercive dispensing of birth control to poor black women 2) the criminalization of parenting by poor black women who have used drugs 3) the stigmatization and devaluation of poor black mothers under the new welfare provisions, and 4) the differential access to and disproportionate spending of social resources on the new reproductive technologies used by wealthy white couples to insure genetically related offspring.
The legal redress of the racism inherent in current American law and policy in these matters, the author argues in her last chapter, demands and should lead us to adopt a new standard and definition of the liberal theory of "liberty" and "equality" based on the need for, and the positive role of government in fostering, social as well as individual justice." Goodreads Review
"Reproductive Justice is a first-of-its-kind primer that provides a comprehensive yet succinct description of the field. Written by two legendary scholar-activists, Reproductive Justice introduces students to an intersectional analysis of race, class, and gender politics. Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger put the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center of the book and use a human rights analysis to show how the discussion around reproductive justice differs significantly from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have long dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict. Arguing that reproductive justice is a political movement of reproductive rights and social justice, the authors illuminate, for example, the complex web of structural obstacles a low-income, physically disabled woman living in West Texas faces as she contemplates her sexual and reproductive intentions. In a period in which women’s reproductive lives are imperiled, Reproductive Justice provides an essential guide to understanding and mobilizing around women’s human rights in the twenty-first century.
Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the Twenty-First Century publishes works that explore the contours and content of reproductive justice. The series will include primers intended for students and those new to reproductive justice as well as books of original research that will further knowledge and impact society" - Goodreads Review
"Traditional midwifery, culture, customs, understandings, and meanings surrounding pregnancy and birth are grounded in distinct epistemologies and worldviews that have sustained Indigenous women and their families since time immemorial. Years of colonization, however, have impacted the degree to which women have choice in the place and ways they carry and deliver their babies. As nations such as Canada became colonized, traditional gender roles were seen as an impediment. The forced rearrangement of these gender roles was highly disruptive to family structures. Indigenous women quickly lost their social and legal status as being dependent on fathers and then husbands. The traditional structures of communities became replaced with colonially informed governance, which reinforced patriarchy and paternalism. The authors in this book carefully consider these historic interactions and their impacts on Indigenous women’s experiences. As the first section of the book describes, pregnancy is a time when women reflect on their bodies as a space for the development of life. Foods prepared and consumed, ceremony and other activities engaged in are no longer a focus solely for the mother, but also for the child she is carrying. Authors from a variety of places and perspectives thoughtfully express the historical along with contemporary forces positively and negatively impacting prenatal behaviours and traditional practices. Place and culture in relation to birth are explored in the second half of the book from locations in Canada such as Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Aotearoa. The reclaiming and revitalization of birthing practices along with rejuvenating forms of traditional knowledge form the foundation for exploration into these experiences from a political perspective. It is an important part of decolonization to acknowledge policies such as birth evacuation as being grounded in systemic racism. The act of returning birth to communities and revitalizing Indigenous prenatal practices are affirmation of sustained resilience and strength, instead of a one-sided process of reconciliation." -Demeter Press Review
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
“Bennett’s brilliant, tumultuous debut novel is about a trio of young people coming of age under the shadow of harsh circumstances in a black community in Southern California. Deftly juggling multiple issues, Bennett addresses the subjects—abortion, infidelity, religious faith, hypocrisy, and race—head-on.” - Publishers Weekly
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
"During a biological apocalypse set two months in the future, when the borders between Mexico and Canada are sealed off, Cedar Hawk Songmaker—26, pregnant, and with a burning independent streak—eventually learns why the government will do anything to ensure she has her baby under strict surveillance...Framed as a letter to Cedar's unborn child, this novel is bracing, humane, dedicated to witnessing the plight of women in a cruel universe, and full of profound spiritual questions and observations." - Kirkus Review
"Undivided Rights is the most complete account of the vital contribution made by women of color to the contemporary reproductive rights movement. By giving these organizers the attention they deserve, the authors illuminate a distinctive vision for reproductive health and freedom that demands an end to social inequities. Essential reading for anyone committed to the struggle for reproductive justice." —Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
A Note to the Adults:
There is a phrase commonly used by educators and children’s librarians striving to promote diverse representation which speaks of books as “mirrors and windows”. An inclusive library collection should provide both mirrors where children can see themselves represented in books, as well as windows where children are provided with a view into the lives of others. Mirrors allow children to feel valued, seen, and validated in their own identity, while windows build empathy and understanding for others.
Children’s books are one of the most powerful tools which can be utilized by parents and educators to initiate conversations on important topics such as racism and racial injustice. A good book can provide a gateway to open a conversation, guide dialogue, and prompt questions from children. Particularly for young children, curling up and having a caregiver read aloud also provides ideal conditions for connection and fostering family values.
It is also 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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