The best social justice books 📚

Browse the best books on social justice as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Why this book?

Many of us ground our relationship to nature and ecosystems through animals: a pet, the songbirds at our feeder, a glimpse of an urban coyote or deer, a favorite species. This short, profound, joy-filled book offers glimpses into the world of bowhead whales, leopard seals, river dolphins and so many others. But it doesn’t stop with natural history, as fascinating as the walrus whiskers and spinning dolphins in this book are: Gumbs teaches us about each species so they can teach us about our own societies. The result is so poetic it begs to be read aloud, and an exuberant…

From the list:

The best books on humans and their relationship with nature

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

By Adrienne Maree Brown, Walidah Imarisha

Why this book?

Anthologies of science fiction often tend to be darkly foreboding. This one takes us on a journey of 20 bold, hope-inspiring stories infused with the scent of freedom, justice, emancipation. The authors, many of them black, feminist, queer, rebel artists, and the like, all involved in some kind of social action, come up with dazzling imaginations of what a better world could look like. Like any good collection of stories, it’s the kind one can dive into every once in a while, whether one has 10 minutes to read or the whole day … and having finished it, come back…

From the list:

The best books of utopian fiction

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History

By Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, Jeanette Bradley

Why this book?

For kids who think that "history" is made only by old people who lived long ago, this accessible anthology showcases fourteen of today's young people who are speaking up. It profiles a diverse range of contemporary activists (starting at eight years old) throughout the United States, kids who have worked on issues from climate change to safe water to social justice.

The book's creative format is particularly engaging for children and educators and makes it stand out in the field of anthologies. It provides a brief biography of every young person included, followed by a poem. Each poem is written…

From the list:

The best children's picture books about human rights and civic engagement

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia

Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia

By Gerald W. Mullin

Why this book?

A classic, this book was one of the first to challenge prevailing white attitudes about the assimilation and acculturation of Africans and African Americans to life under slavery. Mullin describes how greater levels of assimilation translated into more effective means of protest.

From the list:

The best books about social justice (that you may not ever have heard about)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America

The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America

By Stephen Steinberg

Why this book?

While many celebrated the ethnic revival of the 1960s and the social justice causes that grew from them, Steinberg offers a powerful and challenging thesis that argues the limits of ethnicity. A sense of ethnic re-birth, he argues, can only occur once ethnicity is gone. Rather than empowering a new generation of social justice youth, ethnicity proves a myth.

From the list:

The best books about social justice (that you may not ever have heard about)

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Wanderers

Wanderers

By Chuck Wendig

Why this book?

One area of social justice that is often overlooked is intergenerational justice. As we deplete the planet’s resources, we pass problems along to future generations. Rather than leaving the Earth a better place for those who follow, we are leaving them with an environment at the tipping point. There are a number of science fiction and fantasy books that address this, and it’s possible that Wanderers (2019) springs to mind in part because it’s fairly recent. On the other hand, most of the books I’ve listed are decades old, and this is one of the best works of speculative fiction…

From the list:

The best science fiction and fantasy books on social justice

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 38 books about social justice

New book lists about social justice

All book lists about social justice

Bookshelves related to social justice

Browse books by…