Anti-Racists Reads

While at first glance this list seems extensive, it is certainly not exhaustive. The works listed below by Tredyffrin Township Librarians are not the only titles that discuss race and racism in the United States; there are many more titles and authors of color that we could not include due to space and time. Comment below if there are titles or authors you think should have been included. 

For all books, we provided links to Chester County Library System’s Libby (when available), the Chester County Library Catalog (when available), and a link to purchase either through Wayne’s Main Point Books or There are a few items, however, that are not immediately available through Libby. As of June 2nd, Tredyffrin Townships Libraries are still closed and not offering curbside pick up at this time, so please do not place holds on physical items until the library offers these services. 

Babies & ToddlersGrades K-2Grades 3-6Young AdultsAdults


Babies & Toddlers

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A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. Board book.   This ABC board book highlights community values, equality, and justice.  Catalog | Purchase

Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Sean Qualls Poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between mother and baby. Catalog | Purchase

Grades K-2

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Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester; illus. by Karen Barbour. Introduces concept of race as part of a person’s story; Introduces the idea of prejudice based on skin color. Picture book for K-2. Catalog | Purchase

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine; illus. by Kadir Nelson. Excellent book about a child’s resistance to slavery. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney. Describes the sit-in by four college students at a Woolworth’s counter in 1960. Catalog | Purchase

We March by Shane W. Evans. Picture book about 1963 March on Washington. Preschool-Grade 2. Catalog | Purchase

A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson; illus. by Eric Velasquez. A stirring yet jubilant glimpse of the invaluable contributions of youth in the Civil Rights movement. Ages 5-8. Catalog | Purchase

Yours for justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist by Philip Dray; illus. by Stephen Alcorn. The inspirational story of Ida B. Wells and her lifelong commitment to end injustice. Purchase

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X  by Ilyasah Shabazz, illus. by AG Ford. This inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom. Before he was known as Malcolm X he was Malcolm Little. Catalog | Purchase

Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fights by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Stephen Alcorn. This book tells the stories of African-American women Freedom Fighters. Catalog | Purchase

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army by Art Coulson; illus. by Nick Hardcastle. Catalog | Purchase

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendes & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh The success of the Mendes family and their fight for justice eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California. Catalog | Purchase

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson; illus. by Rafael López. This story reminds us that when we feel like outsiders  how brave it is that we go forth anyway. by Jacqueline Woodson Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged! by Jody Nyasha; illus. by Richard Rudnicki. An act of refusal awakened people to the unacceptable nature of racism and began the process of bringing an end to racial segregation in Canada. Catalog | Purchase

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera.  Mackinzie realizes that her hair is beautiful despite the trading she receives at school. Her wise neighbor teaches her that taking care of her hair is akin to maintaining a bountiful garden. Catalog | Purchase

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Elizabeth Zunion. Celebrate the life of the legendary Lena Horne. Catalog | Purchase

Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano. A white family and a black family discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Catalog | Purchase

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson; illus. by Christian Robinson. A story of justice and a young black singer following her dreams. Catalog | Purchase

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Gwen Strauss; illus. by Floyd Cooper. Ruth’s story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact. Catalog | Purchase

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; illus. by Frane Lessac. The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim; illus. by E. B. Lewis. Learn about the young life of civil right leader John Lewis. Catalog | Purchase

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson; illus. by Julie Flett. A young girl learns about her grandmother’s difficult life in a residential school. Catalog | Purchase

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Jamey Christoph. Catalog | Purchase

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange; illus. by Kadir Nelson. Learn about Scott’s vision of change through nonviolent protest. Catalog | Purchase

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; illus. by Kadir Nelson. Catalog | Purchase

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni; illus. by Bryan Collier. A tribute to Mrs. Parks and her refusal to give up her seat on a city bus. Catalog | Purchase

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers; illus. by Floyd Cooper. Picture book biography. Catalog | Purchase

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney. Born into slavery and escaped to freedom Sojourner shares her truth about slavery and feminist. Catalog | Purchase

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz A young girl learns that the color brown has many shades. Catalog | Purchase

Firebird by Misty Copeland; illus. by Christopher Myers. With hard work and faith you too can become a Firebird. Catalog | Purchase

Grades 3 – 6

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A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory. An explanation of what racism is and how to know when you see it. Purchase

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Through poetry, Woodson shares her experience growing up African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase 

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges. Autobiography about the harrowing story of how Bridges integrated a public school in New Orleans when she was 6 years old. Catalog | Purchase

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Three sisters visit their mother, a Black Panther Party member, during a memorable summer in Oakland. Sequel P.S. Be Eleven.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. Uses primary sources (and poetry) to contrast the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life, dreams and dignity. Catalog | Purchase

Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe; illustrated by Ellen Lindner. Two boys in Little Rock get caught up in the struggle over public school integration. Catalog | Purchase

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge (local author). A photo essay focusing on the critical role that children and teens played in the success of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Catalog | Purchase

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Watsons’ lives are drastically changed after they visit Grandma in Birmingham in the summer of 1963. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Revolution by Deborah Wiles. Twelve-year-old Sunny evolves a growing sense of justice and empathy after “the invaders” arrive in her Mississippi town to integrate public facilities and register voters during “Freedom Summer.” Catalog | Purchase

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford. Mr. Schombur’s quest to correct history through paintings and poetry. Catalog | Purchase

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement Catalog | Purchase

This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy. This nook tells the story of Jo Ann Allen who was one of the twelve African American students who broke the color barrier to join Clinton High School.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

New Kid by Jerry Craft. This graphic novel explores what it is like to assimilate to a new school where there is little diversity as a black seventh grader.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. After twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by police when he is holding a toy gun, Jerome becomes a ghost. He meets another ghost: Emmett Till.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Young Adults

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. Two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

March: Book One, Two, & Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. This graphic novel shows the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, Tonya Bolden, and Nic Stone. This book examines five moments in American history in which America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, only to have the systemic response  of a racist backlash that rolls back those wins. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. Sasha, a white teen, and Richard, a black teen, meet on the 57 bus. One afternoon on the bus ride home, a reckless act leaves Sasha severely burned and Richard is charged with two hate crimes and life imprisonment. The media attention of the trial thrusts both teens into the spotlight. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. His best friend, Manny, attracts the rage of a white off-duty copy while playing music loudly from his car, leading to shots being fired and attention from the media. Libby | Catalog | Purchase 

Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout. Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn of the system. As an aspiring filmmaker, as a means to cope, he transcribes his trial into a script. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. Jade is a teen from a poor neighborhood striving for success, and has taken every opportunity possible to succeed. Through this, Jade feels as though no one in her life understands her and she must grapple with what it means to be a successful woman alone. Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan. Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything on their blog, including Jasmine’s responses to racial microaggressions. They soon attract enough attention that they become the target of internet trolls. Catalog | Libby | Purchase

Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance by Bethany Morrow et. al. This anthony features fictional stories—in poems, prose, and art—that reflect the varied and limitless ways that readers resist every day. Catalog | Purchase

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. Catalog | Purchase

Slay by Brittney Morris. By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, but at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of black games in the secret multiplayer online role-playing game, SLAY. No one knows that she is the developer and when the game hits the mainstream media, trolls threaten to sue her for “anti-white discrimination.”  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. by Phillip Hoose. An excellent book parents and teachers can use to raise the question: Who gets to be a leader? Which Black lives matter, and who gets left out when we look for just one kind of hero?  Libby | Catalog | Purchase

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis. Did you know that many of America’s Founding Fathers—who fought for liberty and justice for all—were slave owners? This thoroughly-researched and documented book explores the role slavery played in the founding of America. Catalog | Purchase

The Port Chicago 50:  Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. The riveting local account of African American sailors who were charged with mutiny for refusing to work in unsafe conditions after a deadly explosion during World War II. Catalog | Purchase

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. The youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March shares her involvement in historic Civil Rights events. Catalog | Purchase

Mare’s War by Tanita Davis. Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less than perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American Battalion of the Women’s Army Corps. | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students by Suzanne Jurmain. The trial of Prudence Crandall, arrested for trying to teach African American girls geography, history, reading, philosophy, and chemistry. | Catalog | Purchase


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Nonfiction Books

How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo  | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DeAngelo  | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson  | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Tyson | Catalog | Purchase

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin  | Libby | Catalog | Purchase 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates  | Libby | Catalog | Purchase 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors | Catalog | Purchase 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde | Catalog | Purchase

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison | Libby | Catalog | Purchase

We Were 8 Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates | Libby | Catalog | Purchase


Additional Resources (Movies, Podcasts, and more)