The best anti-racism books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about anti-racism and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of How to Be an Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist

By Ibram X. Kendi,

Why this book?

What I love most about Kendi’s book is its almost rhythmic movement between the personal, the cultural, and the political. He makes visible his own journey toward anti-racism, interwoven with his journey toward anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia. And he leaves essential breadcrumbs behind – a set of distinctions to help see the world in a new way. The net effect is a powerful invitation into self-transformation from “not racist” to “anti-racist,” one that is having massive ripple effects in our culture as people take up the charge, and that I have found moving and valuable. 

From the list:

The best books on changing the world, starting with yourself

Book cover of Anti-Racist Ally: An Introduction to Activism and Action

Anti-Racist Ally: An Introduction to Activism and Action

By Sophie Williams,

Why this book?

There are a bunch of great anti-racism books out there, but few are all about taking action, as Sophie’s book is. Because I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far into my recommendation list, you are already familiar with anti-racism and many of the systemic problems we must address, and just want someone to point you in the right direction to do the work. This is a great book for that! It’s short but packed with practical tips.

From the list:

The best books to equip you to fight for change when the world is conspiring to make you feel powerless

Book cover of Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

By Colin Seale,

Why this book?

At first glance, you might not see why we think it’s a book for parents that addresses anti-racism. But digging deeper, you’ll see that one of the things we advocate for is developing the skills for introspection - to ask ourselves the tough questions, to challenge our own beliefs and assumptions, and think critically about the information that constantly surrounds us. Those skills are a fundamental part of our own anti-racism practices. Unfortunately, critical thinking is not a skill that’s been well taught, or evenly taught, throughout the schools in our country - so it’s important for each of us…

From the list:

The best books for kids (and parents) on anti-racism

Book cover of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning

By Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi,

Why this book?

My son loved this adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. "It shows you things that are hidden," he said. "And reveals things that America doesn't want you to know about." This 12-year-old tore through the book, prepared for youth by brilliant KidLit writer Jason Reynolds. He found it utterly readable, and very compelling. If every middle and high school history class had Stamped as a required text, we would undoubtedly be having very different (meaning: better) discussions about race in this country.

From the list:

The best YA and MG books about the Black experience

Book cover of New Racism: Conservatives and the Ideology of the Tribe

New Racism: Conservatives and the Ideology of the Tribe

By Martin Barker,

Why this book?

I became involved in anti-racist politics as a student. The first campaign I organized was a protest against a lecturer who had written an essay advocating the deportation of everyone in Britain who was not white. The lecturer presented his argument in terms of the need for cultural homogeneity, which meant he did not have to make easily discredited claims of racial superiority. While the racism was obvious to me, I was struck by how many people believed the lecturer’s cultural argument. To respond to it required understanding how racist arguments could change their form, as older racist ideas lost…

From the list:

The best books on racism in Britain

Book cover of The Undefeated

The Undefeated

By Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson (illustrator),

Why this book?

Kwame Alexander is a creative force of nature, an award-winning author of poetry and children’s fiction, such as Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, Becoming Muhammad Ali, co-authored with James Patterson, and The Crossover, soon to be a Disney+ television series. In The Undefeated, Alexander displays masterful lyrical language skills, and by telling us what we are not, shows us what we are: resilient, strong, and brave. Read this book to Black children and bask in the love.

From the list:

The best life-affirming books for Black children

Book cover of Antiracist Baby

Antiracist Baby

By Ibram X. Kendi, Ashley Lukashevsky (illustrator),

Why this book?

The bedrock of inclusivity is understanding our part in systems of oppression. This introduction into actionable antiracist behavior is a must for any parent hoping to truly raise their child to be genuinely inclusive. The page-by-page rhyming helps to engage children, while the glossary in the back gives parents and caregivers real, meaningful discussion points.

From the list:

The best inclusive children’s books

Book cover of So Much!

So Much!

By Trish Cooke, Helen Oxenbury (illustrator),

Why this book?

Trish Cooke uses cumulative storytelling to show just how much a baby is loved when extended family members – Auntie and Uncle and Nannie and Gran-Gran and cousins – come to visit. This story is such fun to read, and was enjoyed many, many times with the young ones in my life. Young and old can bask in this baby’s utter adoration and vicariously experience so much love.

From the list:

The best life-affirming books for Black children

Book cover of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

By Heather McGhee,

Why this book?

The Sum of Us accomplishes two important things: it illustrates the power of public policy to perpetuate racism and racial inequality and demonstrates the negative impact of such policies on white people as well as Black and other people of color. Racism hurts all of us in tangible and measurable ways. The Sum of Us makes those costs abundantly clear, but also offers much-needed hope and action steps for healing our collective wounds. I love Heather McGhee’s concept of the “solidarity dividend”. It reminds me that change is possible!

From the list:

The best books on why racism persists and what we can do about it

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