My favorite books empowering youth to speak up against hatred, bigotry, and injustice

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an educator, cook, lover of rooftops and nature. In 2017, a series of extraordinary events brought me to Oswego, New York to speak about my debut YA novel, Hello?. With time to spare, I scrolled through Facebook and saw, “Homework? NY Students Debate Exterminating Jews.” Where was the assignment given? Oswego! And surprise, at my book signing, I met one of the two brave teens who protested the debate. These experiences spurred The Assignment’s journey. Speaking up against bigotry, hatred, and injustice is a life-long quest of learning, action, and sharing knowledge. I hope you’ll join me. These books are a great start.

I wrote...

Book cover of The Assignment

What is my book about?

In the vein of the classic The Wave and inspired by a real-life incident, this riveting novel explores discrimination and antisemitism and reveals their dangerous impact.

Senior year. When an assignment given by a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution, a euphemism used to describe the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people, Logan March and Cade Crawford are horrified. Their teacher cannot seriously expect anyone to complete an assignment that fuels intolerance and discrimination. Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand. As the school administration addressed the teens' refusal to participate in the appalling debate, the student body, their parents, and the larger community are forced to face the issue as well. The situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result. What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dear Mr. Dickens

Liza Wiemer Why did I love this book?

Nancy Churnin shares the incredible story of the famous author, Charles Dickens, and Eliza Davis, the brave woman who wrote to Dickens to express her disappointment for his antisemitic portrayal of a Jewish man in Oliver Twist. Her letter had a profound impact on Dickens. In his next book, he included a wonderful Jewish character, making Eliza proud and grateful. I love how this book shows an ordinary person’s positive impact on a literary legend.

By Nancy Churnin, Bethany Stancliffe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dear Mr. Dickens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 National Jewish Book Award Winner - Children's Picture Book
2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor for Picture Books
Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Younger Readers 2021
The Best Jewish Children's Books of 2021, Tablet Magazine
A Junior Library Guild Selection March 2022
The Best Children's Books of the Year 2022, Bank Street College
2022 First Place―Children's Book Nonfiction, Press Women of Texas
2022 First Place―Children's Book Nonfiction, National Federation of Press Women

Eliza Davis believed in speaking up for what was right. Even if it meant telling Charles Dickens he was wrong.

In Eliza Davis's day, Charles…

Book cover of This Is My America

Liza Wiemer Why did I love this book?

When Tracy Beaumont’s father is convicted for a murder he didn’t commit, she refuses to accept the verdict. Her unwavering determination to fight the long-standing racism in her small town shows the depth of its hateful history and its horrific impact on her father and family. This unforgettable, heartbreaking, and hopeful novel provides a mirror and window into the courage needed to fight against injustice.

By Kim Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is My America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Incredible and searing." --Nic Stone, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin

The Hate U Give meets Just Mercy in this unflinching yet uplifting first novel that explores the racist injustices in the American justice system.

Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time--her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy's older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star…

Book cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea

Liza Wiemer Why did I love this book?

As a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, Linus Baker is summoned by Extremely Upper Management to determine the future of six unique and potentially dangerous youth kept at an orphanage on Marsays Island. This novel is one of the most creative, imaginative books that addresses the impact of prejudice. TJ Klune draws readers into the magic spun by his brilliant storytelling. Respect, acceptance, and tolerance are major themes, and it’s a perfect book to celebrate diversity and individual differences.

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The House in the Cerulean Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not…

Book cover of American Betiya

Liza Wiemer Why did I love this book?

When Rani Kelkar secretly dates the tattooed, charismatic, artistic Oliver—her mother’s worst nightmare—cultures collide. This exquisitely written novel explores appropriation, identity, and self-respect. Bigotry can show its ugly head in micro-aggressions and Anuradha Rajurkar does a phenomenal job illuminating this form of hatred. An eye-opening and thought-provoking novel, readers will recognize that sometimes speaking up for oneself is one of the most important ways to fight against bigotry, hatred, and injustice.

By Anuradha D. Rajurkar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked American Betiya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A luminous story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson.

Praise for American Betiya
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book of 2022
A YALSA Best Best Fiction for Young Adults
A Cosmopolitan Best 100 Books of All Time
A Book Riot best YA Book of 2021
A South Asia Book Award 2022 honoree
A Children's Cooperative 2022 Best Book of the Year
A 2022 Nerdy Book Club Best Novel Award Winner

Rani Kelkar has never lied to…

Book cover of Turtle Boy

Liza Wiemer Why did I love this book?

Seventh-grader, Will Levine, has a condition that causes his chin to shrink during puberty. Bullied at school, kids call him Turtle Boy. The nickname is a double entendre since Will also loves turtles. As he prepares for his bar mitzvah, copes with the death of his father, and navigates a friendship with a terminally ill boy, Will also finds himself in a battle to preserve a marsh filled with endangered turtles. Will has to come out of his shell to prevent developers from destroying this environment. This book will inspire readers to speak up against injustices.

By M. Evan Wolkenstein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Turtle Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

This is a powerful story of hope and friendship, perfect for fans of Wonder and The Goldfish Boy. Exploring self-image, family and grief, this book will make you laugh and cry.

Meet Will Levine.
Here are three things Will loves: turtles, the nature reserve behind school, being left alone.
And one thing Will really hates: his nickname.

Kids at school call Will Turtle Boy because of his funny-looking chin. But when Will meets RJ, he learns not everyone is his enemy. RJ has a bucket list of adventures which extends way beyond his hospital room, and he needs help ticking…

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What You Do To Me: A Novel

By Rochelle B. Weinstein,

Book cover of What You Do To Me: A Novel

Rochelle B. Weinstein Author Of When We Let Go

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I the author of seven women’s fiction novels, I’m a voracious reader who believes she was raised by Judy Blume and Sidney Sheldon. In our broken home, reading was an escape, a salve for the wound, a place where I felt heard and understood. My novels touch on deep emotions—real and relatable. If I don’t capture that feeling when I’m reading through my drafts, I dig deeper. And that’s the thing about a great book, that gut punch, that slide under my skin, I get you. There’s no better read than the one that pulls the heartstrings and gives you all the feels.    

Rochelle's book list on tugging on every one of your heartstrings

What is my book about?

What You Do To Me follows Rolling Stone reporter Cecilia James on the hunt to find the muse behind a famous love song, all while managing an estranged relationship with her father and boyfriend Pete.

Inspired by Hey There Deliah, the dual timeline stretches across the sunny beaches of 1970s Miami with star-crossed lovers Eddie and Sara, to the glittery music industry of 1990s LA. For music lovers and fans of that first, unforgettable love, What You Do To Me is the story of a love song with equal parts heart and harmony.

What You Do To Me: A Novel

By Rochelle B. Weinstein,

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends comes a moving novel of two unfinished love stories and the music and lyrics that bring them together.

Journalist Cecilia James is a sucker for a love song. So when she stumbles across a clue to the identity of the muse for one of rock’s greatest, she devotes herself to uncovering the truth, even as her own relationship is falling apart.

While writing an article for Rolling Stone, Cecilia works to reveal the mystery that has intrigued fans and discovers a classic tale of two soulmates separated by fate and circumstance. Rock…

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