"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Review and quotes: CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC by Claudia Rankine

Title: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Book Beginnings quote: 
When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows.
Friday56 quote (59% on e-reader):
And you are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.
Summary: Citizen is part poetry, part essay, part personal, part collective experiences, part historical, and completely heartbreaking and maddening. In it poet Claudia Rankine uses her talent to give voice to the black experience(s) in America. Sometimes, like the opening line, you know she is looking back at her own experiences of being black in America and other times she writes about the experiences of others using lines from news reports or other documents to make her accounting all the more real. Sometimes the poems are about seemingly simple misconceptions like a white friend  who mistakenly calls her by the maids name. The maid being the only other black person this friend knows. While other times the poems are about deadly serious topics like the 'stop and frisk' policy that allows for police to stop anyone they suspect of doing wrong. This has led to black men and women being stopped and pulled over for no other reason than they are black because they 'fit the description.' Most of the poems are short and written in free form so, at first glance, I wasn't aware that I was even reading poetry. But the choice usage of perfect words just piled up to leave me clutching my chest because my heart was breaking over and over.

Review: I am sure I'm not the only person who is trying to be open and receptive to change in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and all the information that has been brought forward about white privilege and our ignorance about the racist things we do without thinking. I am trying to shut up and listen. I want to learn and I want to become an anti-racist. Of all the books I've read so far, Citizen has brought me the furthest at the fastest pace. By page two I was seething, and cringing, and crying, and praying "God help us find another way."

The book is divided into sections. The second or third section were all poems about the experiences Serena Williams has had to deal with as a black tennis star that white tennis stars have not had to. For some reason this section opened my eyes even wider than the others. If Serena, who is uber talented and famous, experiences racism on that level then think what happens to the average black man or woman. Ugh. Such exhausting and mind-numbing ugliness.

This book should be required reading but I know a lot of people don't care for poetry. If not this book, what book do you recommend everyone read to help open their eyes about the ugliness of racism in this country? We have a lot of work to do. We can do better. We can be better.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material. 


Monday, June 22, 2020

TTT: Favorite Topics Over the Last Five Years

 In celebration of ten years of Top Ten Tuesday I decided to copy a post I did in 2015 when I highlighted my favorite topics from the first five years of TTT. This post will over my favorite topics from July 2015 to now, June 2020. Listed in chronological order.

(This photo was associated with my TTT post about being thankful for people for bookish reasons, from Nov. 2015)

from July 20, 2015

from July 27, 2015

from November 23, 2015

April 11, 2016

August 29, 2016

September 25, 2017

October 2, 2017

February 26, 2018

April 16, 2018

July 23, 2018

October 23, 2018

April 15, 2019

December 9, 2019

May 25, 2020


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Review and quotes: THE WATER DANCER by Ta'Nehsi Coates

Title:  THE WATER DANCER by Ta'Nehisi Coates

Book Beginnings quote:

Friday 56 quote:

Summary: Hiram Walker is born into slavery but his father is the plantation owner and his half-brother, the heir-apparent. Though he dreams of receiving his inheritance, his due as a child of the owner, Hiram knows it will never happen and is even afraid he will sold off just as his mother was sold when he was young. He remembers little of his mother but he does know that she had special powers. But when he nearly drowns in the River Goose, he discovers that he, too, has a special power.  Could this power help him, and maybe others, escape? Can he do it on his own or should he get help from Georgie Parks, a freed slave living in Freetown nearby? All of Hiram's decisions have tremendous consequences, some are even life-threatening.

The first quote provides foreshadowing of the near-drowning in the Goose, which is a pivotal point in Hiram's life. I laughed when I read it since it is one gigantic sentence and quite confusing until you read on. Don't judge the book by this sentence. The Friday56 quote occurs just before the aforementioned near-drowning when Hiram visits Georgie in Freetown, attempting to get away from the whites who have been drinking and partying all day, and now have menace on their minds. Doesn't seem like things have changed that much if the current news reports are to be believed.

Review: At the center of this story is the tragedy of slavery and desire of every human being to be free and to be treated with dignity and respect. On the edges of the story is the power of story-telling and how important it is to have a story that gives us a place and a people of our own. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a master storyteller and he brings to life this time period in American history with clear-eyed honesty. He also sprinkles in some magical realism allowing the reader to see and interpret the Underground Railroad with new eyes.

The timeliness of this read is obvious. It is a good reminder that white privilege is still alive and it harms the well-being of those not in the dominant culture. I loved the magical realism and how the story drew of folk tales and the wisdom of elders. I highly recommend it.

Book Club discussion questions:
1. Why do you think Coates uses terms like “Tasked” and “Quality” instead of “slaves” and “masters”? What do you think the novel gains from this altered language?
2. Hiram says that the Tasked are “Blessed, for we do not bear the weight of pretending pure.” How does Coates define morality in the novel?
3. What do you make of Howell Walker’s apology? To what extent does Coates humanize Howell? Why do you think he does this?
4. What roles do the concepts of motherhood and fatherhood play in the novel? How does Hiram define family?
5. Sophia tells Hiram, “But what you must get, is that for me to be yours, I must never be yours.” What is Coates saying about the particular struggles of black women in this novel?
6. Characters like Corrine risk their lives to work for the Underground, while also allowing Hiram and some of its other members to come to harm for the greater good of the organization. What might Coates be trying to say about the relationship between white people and racial justice with these characters?
7. Discuss Harriet’s role in the story. What impact does the inclusion of a historical figure have on the narrative?
8. What is the significance of water throughout the book? Why do you think Coates chooses it as the medium for Hiram’s power?
9. What does THE WATER DANCER add to our understanding of how enslaved people suffered? What does the novel add to our understanding of the agency, resilience and strength of enslaved people during that time?
10. How are the themes of THE WATER DANCER relevant to modern discussions of race, privilege and power?
-Source: Reading Group Guides

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.

This book just fulfills the requirements for the Big Book Summer Challenge at 403 pages.

Monday, June 15, 2020

TTT: My summer reading list

Top Ten Tuesday: My summer reading list followed by how I did on my spring reading list

My library is still closed due to coronavirus so I will focus on books I have lying around the house or can get as e-books and audiobooks from the on-line circulation the library provides.

I. Audio and e-books on hold on my Overdrive account:
  1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  2. Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  4. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  5. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  6. How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times by Annie Chagnot (E)
  7. A Very Stable Genius: Donald Trump's Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Corl Leonnig
  8. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  9. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
  10. Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore 
  11. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (E)
  12. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd (E)
  13. This Train is Being Held by Ismee Williams (E)
II. Books I own 
  1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  2. This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell
  3. Tiny Habits: Small Changes that Change Everything by B.F. Fogg
  4. Tinkers by Paul Harding
  5. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  6. Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison
III. Book Club Selections
  1. Valentine (listed above)
  2. I have no idea what other books we will choose or will be available to my clubs. It will depend on IF the library opens soon, then the book kits I ordered will be available again. If not, we are still stalled out.
Well, that is a ridiculous amount of books I have on hold and expect to "receive" some time this summer (listed on part I.) The books marked with an E are e-books. The rest are audiobooks, which makes the list even more ridiculous. One simply cannot listen to more than one audiobook at a time and time is something that audiobooks take up. We'll see how I do.

How did I do on my winter reading list?
I am feeling good about how I did on my winter list. Book club has been on hold since March so I couldn't even get the books in question for it. The Yellow House is really serious and I don't feel like reading serious stuff right now, so it is set aside for another time. Otherwise I finished the rest of my list. Woot. Woot!

I. Books I just checked out from the library before it closed due to the epidemic
  1. Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlen ✔
  2. It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History
  3. The Book of Books by PBS
  4. Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience edited by Shaun Usher✔
II.  Books I still want to read from the winter list
  1. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood✔
  2.  Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner✔
III. Book Club Selections
  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  2. Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt
IV. Just because books
  1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry✔
  2. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley✔
  3. Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Mr. Rogers ✔
  4. The Yellow House by Sarah Broom


Monday, June 8, 2020

TTT: Books I placed on my TBR list and I don't remember why

Top Ten Tuesday: 
Books I've forgotten why I placed them on my TBR list (and might consider removing from it.)

1. Beach Read by Emily Henry. Date added to list: last week. Ha!
2. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke. Added on April17, 2020.
3. Autumn by Ali Smith. Added April 17, 2020.
4. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. Added March 8, 2020
5. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. Added January 15, 2020
6. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Added January 13, 2020
7. Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. November 1, 2019
8. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Added March 27, 2019
9. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. Added September 2018
10. Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, Added Nov. 1, 2016


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday Salon, Black Lives Matter Edition

Weather: Cool with sun breaks and light showers throughout the day (light showers with the five-minute exception for a downpour of rain and hail earlier this afternoon).

Black Lives Matter: With the events of this week I want to deviate from my typical Sunday Salon and post items I have found that I think advance the conversations we need to be having about social justice and Black Lives Matter. I have a lot of links which, if you follow them all, will probably lead you down a lot of rabbit-holes. I hope you take the time to at least follow a few of them and then find a friend or family member with whom you can talk about what you read.

It is okay to grow and change as we learn new information. Here is a good place to start:
All four living former Presidents speak out about the actions taken by Trump in the wake of the George Floyd protests: Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. It couldn't be clearer that the current President is on the wrong path. New York Intelligencer, June 3rd, 2020.

In his video (on the linked page referenced above) Obama mentions a 12-year-old boy singing about how hard it is to be a black boy. Here is that video:

In a surprising twist of events, the NFL and other sports teams are doing an about-face on the issue of Black Lives Matter:

My own way of fighting for equality---with literature. This week I created the beginnings of a list of books to advance the discussion about social justice and equality in our country. I hope you will click this link and visit my list and give me suggested book titles if you know of others. Otherwise, just make a comment to let me know that you saw it. Also, feel free to share this list widely. I know that reading helps us expand our minds. We can change as we learn new information.

White supremacists attempted to get a hashtag #whitelivesmatter trending on Twitter. But K-Pop fans were way ahead of them. Every time that hashtags was clicked it would take the viewer to a message like the one below making fun of white supremacists, calling them clowns and racists. It was the most fun thing on Twitter this week. Clever K-Pop fans beat the system!

We can do better, we can be better:

It feels like things are different this time. Maybe we are on the precipice of a new day? I hope so. Take a musical break here. "What's Going On"/Playing for Change.

And now for a little bit about politics:

This sign has become popular in a community in Florida. People are abandoning Trump left and right.

This week's polls have been devastating to Trump with a disapproval rating of 54%, the highest of any President.

And anti-Trump groups are creating ads which are devastating to Trump and his re-election campaign. It isn't just Democrats who want him out. Will other Republicans start to jump ship soon?

George Will, a conservative columnist, says "Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers." (Washington Post, June 1, 2020) We must not only remove the President by voting him out of office, but also retake the Senate.

Remember coronavirus? It is still out there and I still have a few funny/thought-provoking memes to share:

Books and reading:
  • Currently reading
    • Silkworm by Robert Galbriath. I can't "attend" to heavy books right now so I started this second book in the Cormoran Strike series just last night. E-book. 1%.
  • Recently abandoned
    • The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming. This book is getting book reviews but I cannot make myself care about what happened to this man so many years ago. I am setting it aside for now but maybe forever. 15% complete. E-book.
    • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by  Tomi Adeyemi. The second book in the Legacy of Orisha series. I liked the first book a lot. It was based on Nigerian folktales and myths. It has just been too long since I read the first book and I cannot remember anything to help me get started on this second book. I am removing this one from my TBR pile and will be done with it. 10% completed. Audio.
  • Finished this week
    • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A timely reading selection about slavery and the underground railroad. Excellent. Audiobook.
    • Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight fro Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Another timely read. This is a children's book and I got it free from Kindle. See if you can, too. E-book.
    • So Big by Edna Ferber. I read this for the Classic Club spin. It was written in 1924 and won the Pulitzer. I liked it for the fact I got to see a slice of life from the beginning of the last century, otherwise I wasn't that impressed. E-book.
Required cat photo? This week I was only inspired by one of my daughter's shots of her boys, Fred and George. In it you see Fred not quite relaxing on his cat play structure. What a goofball cat.

We did get away from all the craziness for a lovely hike this past Wednesday: We hiked the Greenwater Lakes Trail which is located on the Western slope of the Cascades about an hour from here. It was a lovely day--not too warm or buggy.

I close this week with a collage of flowers blooming in my garden right now. The yard is lovely this time of year and so peaceful. All these photos were taken on one day, June 4th.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Black Lives Matter: a look at books to bring the discussion forward

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Desmond Tutu

 “I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action. I have no interest in passive empathy.” — Rachel Cargle

In light of the events of this week we all are called to action, to speak up on behalf of our brothers and sisters of color. No longer should anyone feel comfortable sitting quietly on the sidelines, no matter how empathetic they feel toward the cause of true equality for ALL.

But what can I do to help? Today it hit me. I can use my voice to talk about what I know: books. More specifically, books about racism/anti-racism, inclusion, and justice. And to highlight the works of authors who are truly making a difference writing and illustrating books so that children, teens, and adults recognize their own stories in literature.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I want it to be a more extensive list than I can compile alone. So help me out. In the comment section below (or on my email link on the sidebar) add selections and descriptions of additional books you suggest and I will add them to this list. Together we can make this a great resource for people looking for ways to educate themselves about how to become anti-racists today and to raise up a new generation of anti-racists for tomorrow!

Adult nonfiction:
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. If you want to start someplace impactful, start here. "A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice — from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time." Today the movie about Stevenson and his work is available free for Amazon Prime members. Act quickly. 
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. "As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities. It offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope." I haven't read this version of the book but was so interested by what I learned from the YA version (see description below.)
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A letter from a father to his black son. "Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America's history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward." This is not an easy book to read, but a vital one.
  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. "Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality."(Suggested by Helen at Helen's Book Blog)
  • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Justice is justice and it needs to be extended everywhere. “Justice-seekers everywhere will celebrate Dunbar-Ortiz’s unflinching commitment to truth—a truth that places settler-colonialism and genocide exactly where they belong: as foundational to the existence of the United States.”
    Waziyatawin, PhD, activist and author of For Indigenous Minds Only. A YA version is also available. (Suggested by Helen at Helen's Book Blog)
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. "Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy--from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans--has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subjec by t to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair--and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend" (Suggested by Sandy WB.) 
  • How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. "Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other." (Suggested by Sandy WB)
  • No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore. "Moore is an award-winning writer, a leading Black Lives Matter activist, and an advocate for justice and liberation. In No Ashes in the Fire, he shares the journey taken from scared, bullied teenager who not only survived, but found his calling." (Suggested by Sandy WB)
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. "From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America." Even the title makes me angry. We have got to do better. (Suggested by Emma at Words and Peace
  • An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz. "Alex Kotlowitz doesn’t provide solutions to the violence that plagues Chicago. Instead, he eloquently bears witness to a single summer on its streets, chronicling a community’s ongoing struggle with murder, misery, and rage. This deeply empathetic and perceptive book isn’t easy to read. But we can only see into the neglected corners of America when someone shines a light."--Christian Science Monitor. (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
  • They Can't Kill Us All: The Struggle for Black Lives by Wesley Lowrey. "A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it." (Suggested by Lynn at Lynn's Film and Book Reviews)
  • Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison. "With racial tensions as high within the church as outside the church, it is time for Christians to become the leaders in the conversation on racial reconciliation."
  • Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard. "The author has led an interesting life, growing up African American in the South, going to an Ivy League college and moving to the very white state of Vermont, marrying a white man, and adopting two little girls from Ethiopia. Bernard's interconnected personal essays cover a wide range of topics." (Recommended by Sue at Book by Book) 
  • Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi "The authors recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. " (Recommended by Rummanah Aasi at Books in the Spotlight)
Adult fiction:
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. "Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation." If you want to understand the long term effect of slavery, read this book. It will break your heart.
  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.What if the underground railroad was a literal railroad? And what if each state, as a runaway slave was going north, was a different state of American possibility, an alternative America?” (WSJ) Though this book is about slavery, it is also very NOW. Colson Whitehead has won two Pulitzers, one for this book and one for The Nickel Boys. He has a lot to tell us. Be prepared to think new thoughts and to grow.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Explores the impact that incarceration has on marriages and relationships.
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "Coates brings his considerable talent for racial and social analysis to his debut novel, which captures the brutality of slavery and explores the underlying truth that slaveholders could not dehumanize the enslaved without also dehumanizing themselves. Beautifully written, this is a deeply and soulfully imagined look at slavery and human aspirations." Booklist (Starred Review)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. A moving story about love in the face of injustice. Written in 1974, the story remains pertinent today.
YA nonfiction:
  • Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of a Fight For Justice by Bryan Stevenson. "Stevenson's story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society--the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization. Through this adaptation, young people of today will find themselves called to action and compassion in the pursuit of justice." I liked the adult version better than this YA version, but I'm an adult. Ha! Both are very good.
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. "A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism — and antiracism — in America." A remix of the National Book Award winning, Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. This book has been reworked with a YA audience in mind, but it is excellent for any age group.
  • One Person No Vote: How Not All Voters are Treated Equally by Carol Anderson with Tonya Bolden. "In gripping, enlightening detail Anderson explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2020 presidential election season." I got so angry I wanted to throw this book against the wall. There is lots of room for action on this topic. This is the YA version of the adult book by the same title.
  • March: Book 1, 2, and 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. The story of Civil Rights Activist and Congressman John Lewis told in three graphic memoirs. Lewis, who marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted his memoir to be published in the comic-book style because it was a comic of MLK that got him activated in the first place back in the late 1950s.
YA fiction:
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book could have been written about what happened in Minneapolis this past week: police kill unarmed black teen, the community erupts in violence. I haven't seen the movie of the same title, but the book is excellent and eye-opening on many levels. Thomas' next book, On the Come Up, takes a hard look at many of the issues that teens of color must deal with on a daily basis. The latter book is also worth the read.
  • Black and White by Paul Volponi. Two best friends, one black and the other white, commit a crime together. After they are caught, the disparity in their experiences with the justice system could not be more stark. Volponi, a white author, wrote this book after seeing for himself the unequal nature of the justice system when he was a teacher for incarcerated youth.
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily. "In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens--one black, one white--grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension." I recommend reading any book written by Jason Reynolds.
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. "The acclaimed author follows up her celebrated The Poet X with a love letter to food and a tribute to young, single mothers... Acevedo's second serving offers a much-needed nuanced exploration of teen parenting that belongs on all shelves." School Library Journal (Starred Review). What I liked best about this book is the positive message it gives about making the most of your life. The main character is a teen mom who works hard to make her dreams come true and she never regrets her decision to have and keep 'baby-girl.' The author's first book is similarly inspiring. It is time we start changing the narrative of what to expect from characters of color. A "don't-miss-her-books" author. 
  • X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Keikla Magoon. A novelization of the life of Malcolm X written by his daughter.
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone.“A powerful, wrenching, and compulsively readable story that lays bare the history, and the present, of racism in America.” –John Green. It's sequel, Dear Justyce is coming out later this summer. (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
  • Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. "When Monday goes missing, only one friend notices and no one is doing anything about it." BIPOC women often go missing without so much as an investigation into their whereabouts. (Recommended by Rummanah Aasi at Books in the Spotlight)
Middle Grade nonfiction:
  • Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protestors at the Leesburg Stockade by Heather E. Schwartz. "In 1963, more than 30 African-American girls ages 11 to 16 were arrested for taking part in Civil Rights protests in Americus, Georgia. They were taken without their families' knowledge to a Civil War-era stockade in Leesburg, Georgia, where they were confined in unsanitary conditions and exposed to brutal treatment." I read this book with my mouth hanging open. How could this happen in America?
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. A memoir of this celebrated author's life growing up during the Civil Rights era. Written in poems.
  • Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman. "Now a classic, Freedman's book tells the dramatic stories of the heroes who stood up against segregation and Jim Crow laws in 1950s Alabama." Grade 6 and up. (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
Middle Grade fiction:
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft. This is a graphic novel about a new kid at school where the diversity is low and the desire to fit in is high. This was the 2020 Newbery Medal award winning book. This book is spot-on about the way people often inadvertently treat students of color, without malice aforethought. Yet the remarks are so hurtful. This would be a wonderful book to read with your kids and discuss.
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Your kids will likely read this one in school. If not, read it together.
  • All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor. "Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century." (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. "This is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl who is filled with self-loathing and must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself." (Recommended by Rummanah Aasi at Books in the Spotlight)
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks. "Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed." (Recommended by Rummanah Aasi at Books in the Spotlight)
  • Revolution by Deborah Wiley.  "Revolution is about The Freedom Summer – the summer of 1964 when college students and other volunteers from all over the country traveled to Mississippi to help end discrimination and segregation in a part of the country that was outright ignoring federal laws to that effect." (Recommended by Sue at Book by Book)
  • Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. "A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool." (Recommended by Sue at Book by Book)
Children's nonfiction:
  • Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. This book is a love letter, written in poetic form, to black life in America. "It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes." Both this author and the illustrator are not-to-be-missed talents.
  • I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson. This book also contains an audio CD (remember those) of King delivering his famous speech. Once again, do not miss books illustrated by Kadir Nelson. For ages 7 and up.
  • Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier. "Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni's evocative text combines with Bryan Collier's striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective."
  • Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh. "Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school." This is an inspiring story about the Hispanic community's fight to desegregate schools in California. I read this book yesterday as Amazon offered the e-book for free.
Children's fiction:
  • Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. Acts of kindness can make all the difference.
  • A is For Activist by Innosanto Nagara. A board book for very young children, the future of our country.
  • White Water by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrated by Shandra Strickland. A young boy has an epiphany. A good discussion starter for young children.
  • Something Happened In Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. "Something Happened in Our Town follows two families -- one White, one Black -- as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives." (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
  • Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. "Andrea's stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian's lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality -- and whose courage to make it happen -- changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream." Also by this writing duo, Boycott Blues. Grade 4 and up.
  • Selected Poems of Langston Hughes: A Classic Collection of Poems by a Master of American Verse by Langston Hughes. Includes: "Montage of a Dream Deferred"; "I, Too"; "Refugee in America." *Note: I tried to check out an e-book of Langston Hughes poetry from my library. They are all checked out! When does that happen?
  • And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Admit it. You should just read ALL the Maya Angelou books and poetry collections.
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankin. "A book-length poem about race and imagination."-The New Yorker. (Suggested by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz)
  • Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith. "Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America—“Dear White America”—where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle."
Now it is your turn. Please help me make this list as exhaustive as possible. Make suggestions of books I should include in the comments below.

Note: All the hyperlinks will take you to an Indy bookstore's website. Whenever you can, support small business owners and keep as many bookstores open as possible.  Right now many books about racism and social justice are sold out. Take that as a good sign and get yourself in line to get the books you want when they become available. Also check out your library homepages. They may have e-books available for check out even if your library is still closed due to the pandemic.

Quotes not attributed to a specific source come from the material provided by the publisher.