What to read when you want to educate your family about race and racism
The killing of George Floyd has led to many of us asking the question: how we can be better anti-racists from now on? For white people, it’s a privilege to be able to ‘educate’ about racism, rather than experience it, and with such a vast range of literature published by black authors readily available, its vital to make sure we’re informed about the wider issues that underpin racial injustice.
Ready to learn? We asked Samantha Williams, campaigner and founder of independent multicultural book supplier This is Book Love, to hand-pick a selection of titles to help educate yourself and your children – on race and racism. Support her one-woman mission to educate and inform audiences about racism and diversity via books, by buying from the selection below.
Books for children
The Story of the Windrush – K N Chimbiri
Combining historical fact with voices from the Windrush Generation, this book sensitively tells the inspiring story of the Windrush Generation pioneers for younger readers.
Black History Matters – Robin Walker
Written by a black historian, this hard-hitting book chronicles thousands of years of black history, from African kingdoms, to slavery, apartheid, the battle for civil rights and much more. Super important and inspiring.
Mabrook: A World of Muslim Weddings – Na’ima B. Robert
This colourful, visual picture book shows the different ways Muslims in different countries celebrate the sacred ceremony, while also describing the vows and promises common to all Muslim marriages.
Boy oh Boy, 30 coming of age stories – Cliff Leek & Bene Rohlmann
Instead of a single model of how a boy can grow into a man, this book offers 30 stories of people whose lives demonstrate that there are endless possibilities – from activists like Frederick Douglass to creative innovators like Prince and icons like Muhammad Ali.
My Kicks – Susan Verde
This fictional picture book explores the love and pride that kids have for their sneakers and the joy that can be found in growing up, growing out, and moving on.
Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison – Caroline Moss
This imaginatively illustrated book details the truly story of Mae Jemison’s life and how she became the first African American woman in space. Then, you learn 10 key lessons from her work and how you can apply to your own life and career.
One Love – Cedella Marley
This joyous book brings Bob Marley’s most beloved song to life for a new generation. Everyone will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her friends, family and community to help transform her neighbourhood for the better.
Get Up, Stand Up – Cedella Marley & Bob Marley
This picture book adaptation of one of Bob Marley’s beloved songs has a timely message for children: to counter injustice, lift others up with kindness and courage. As a young girl goes on with her day in school, she comes across several instances of teasing and intimidation. But with loving action and some help from her friends, she’s able to make things right for herself and others.
Harriet Tubman – A Journey to Freedom – Sandra Agard
This fun and factual biography series pens how Harriet Tubman – born into slavery on a Maryland plantation – helped hundreds of enslaved people reach freedom, despite dangers on the way.
Daddy Do My Hair – Tola Okogwu
Readers can join Daddy and Beth on a wonderful hair adventure in this heart-warming story, which celebrates the unique and special relationship between a father and child.
Books for adults
Icons. 50 Heroines who shaped contemporary culture – Micaela Heekin
This diverse and inclusive book on race features colourful portraits of 50 of the most admired and empowering women in the fields of music, politics, human rights, and film. Think Lupita Nyongo, Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Whitney Houston and Yayoi Kusama.
The Patient Assassin – Anita Anand
The gripping book is based on the life of Indian revolutionary Udham Singh, and tells the remarkable story of his twenty-year quest for revenge, taking him around the world in search of those he held responsible for the Amritsar massacre of 1919, which cost the lives of hundreds.
Nudibranch – Irenosen Okojie
In this dazzling collection of short stories, offbeat characters are caught up in extraordinary situations that test the boundaries of reality.
Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology – edited by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock
Here to Stay, Here to Fight starts with a general introduction, which provides an overview of Race Today’s 15-year history, section introductions providing context for each extract, written by writers and activists associated with the Collective, and a concluding section exploring the legacy of Race Today in contemporary social movements and debates around race, gender and class.
New Daughters of Africa – edited by Margaret Busby
Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.
The Space Between Black and White – Esuantsiwa Goldsmith
Moving from Britain to Scandinavia, from Italy to Tanzania and Ghana, this unique memoir sheds light on Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith’s journey as a feminist and political activist.
Back to Black, Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century – Kehinde Andrews
Back to Black traces the long and eminent history of Black radical politics, and argues that racism is inexorably embedded in the fabric of society, and that it can never be overcome unless by enacting change outside of this suffocating system.
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