When the PBS NewsHour asked educators from different parts of the country to share their picks for some alternatives, they offered books that shift the perspective from a white girl’s point of view to people of color. The stories, many of them more contemporary than “To Kill A Mockingbird,” tackle the multitude of ways racism affects different marginalized groups in the U.S.
“Our most popular books are ‘Dear Martin,’ ‘I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,’ ‘The Book of Unknown Americans,’ and ‘The Hate U Give,’” wrote in Cicely Lewis, a library media specialist in Georgia who created a list of books she calls #ReadWoke. “They all have characters who look like my students and face issues plaguing our society. There’s a waiting list for these titles.”
In their own words, educators select 12 books, including a popular nonfiction pick, that are great reads and help continue the discussion around racial injustice in school and in life.
The overall top pick: Angie Thomas novels
“The Hate U Give” is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It takes up issues of racial injustice and identity, both of which resonate with many students — and it feels particularly timely in the wake of countless police shootings of unarmed black men and women. One of my students said she thinks this is a book everyone should read, and I agree. It also models for students how they can stand up and speak out against injustice.
— Adison Godfrey, English teacher in Pennsylvania
I would like to nominate Angie Thomas’ book, “On the Come Up.” The main character Brianna faces an unjust suspension when a rogue white officer body slams her to the floor in retaliation to a search and seizure shake-down upon entering the metal detectors at her school. This mimics incidents that made national news about white officers body-slamming girls in class.
It sheds light on the skewed suspension of more students of color. More importantly, it shows the youthful response to the archaic mindset of prejudice that keeps black Americans stuck in a post-slavery, Jim-Crow America. Using social media to spur on the injustice of treatment — the same way television was used during the 1960s civil rights movement when white and black freedom riders were beaten.
— Jean Darnell, high school librarian in Houston @awakenlibrarian on Twitter