Concerns about the way America continues to handle racial disparities have reached a boiling point during this past few months. Many have expressed their anguish over centuries of trauma inflicted on African Americans, Indigenous Peoples and people of color in this country; and rightfully so. In light of this uprising, there have been countless stories of solidarity and demands for justice not only from adults within the culture, but from youth of all backgrounds both domestically and internationally.
With such a passionate call for justice from teenagers from all 50 states and more than 18 countries around the world, knowledge about how race relations in the United States led us to this point is crucial. We’ve compiled a list of books we consider fundamental for teenagers who are settling into, or trying to find, their role in this new civil rights movement. You can find these books at your local library as well as on our shelves. We encourage teens not only to read them, but also to share them with others as a resource for building a strong foundation for the fight against systemic racism from a young person’s perspective.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Resist: Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Dear White People by Justin Simien
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powel
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
This is What I Know about Art by Kimberly Drew
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Stamped by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Slay by Brittney Morris
This list is just a start. We encourage today’s youth to continue going against the grain of what has been taught, and to become further educated on America’s cruel, complicated history of using intricate racist systems to facilitate the oppression of others. The work won’t be easy, but with your youthful passion leading the way, we know it won’t be in vain. And soon enough, we will be able to attest to the fact that a cruel, complicated history led us to a victory, one in which people of color were not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.