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July 26, 2021

Diverse Children's Books and Adult Books on Anti-Racism

 

I take learning and UNlearning seriously, so I wanted to share with you books I've read this year and last year. Most of these pictures were taken from my Instagram account.



DIVERSE CHILDREN'S BOOKS:


Graphic Novels:


This graphic novel is packed with history that many don't know, because we're not taught these things in school as we should be. I first learned about Japanese American internment camps when I read Silent Honour by Danielle Steel on my own when I was a teen.

Asian hate is not new. It has sadly been a reality for many for a very long time. This story spans decades and includes several presidents. I highly recommend this graphic novel to everyone who is interested in real American history.

P.S. the sewing machine in the picture is a nod to George’s mom. This sewing machine is, in fact, my mom’s.



Displacement - This is another graphic novel about Japanese American internment camps but with a current twist. The main character is from modern times and is "displaced" to the past. I also highly recommend this graphic novel. George Takei's graphic novel was more written in the eyes of a child who didn't quite understand what was going on, but in this one, the main character is sixteen and understands and sees things that happen. I stand firm that this time in American history needs to be taught in every school and every classroom, for most grade levels.

American Born Chinese - Content Warning: a handful of offensive slurs, but this story does tackle racism and offensive Asian stereotypes, as well as self-acceptance.

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Novel - They took a few liberties that I thought were odd, but since I believe in body literacy, the parts of the story dealing with sexuality and bodies did not shock me as it may with someone who is not open about those topics. Still, it caught me off guard. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation. If you love Anne Frank as much as I do, check this one out.

Persepolis -  This was my second time reading this graphic novel. Here's what I said in my first, brief review (note how I didn't even know to call it a graphic novel lol): This is the first comic-style book I've read. It's also the first book I've read about a girl who grew up in Iran. I never knew any of this. Just...speechless.



I liked the mystery behind the pashmina and how the pages were black and white until someone put the pashmina on and then the pages became full of color.

NOTE: this is not a pashmina in my photo, wrapped around the book. It’s a red scarf that belonged to my paternal grandma that I cherish. ❤️


Picture Books:


I Am Enough by Grace Byers, The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, and Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.

Every year, I like to check out a bunch of picture books from the library. These were my choices, and they did not disappoint. They were all wonderful.

I Am Enough was my favorite. 



Toi Thomas wrote Why Are You Afraid? in response to the Black Lives Matter movement to start a conversation with young children about racism in all its forms. This is a crucial conversation to have with the children in your life, no matter their age. No child is too young to learn that racism is wrong, what Black people experience because of racism, and that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) folkx are just like them. This should be taught from the beginning (and needs to be) with the basics like colors, numbers, and letters. It's that important.

Written in a way that all kids will be able to understand, this story is a great first step to introduce this topic to young children and opens the door to further conversations on the part of educators, parents, and guardians. 



A line in the story reads, “Masters locked away learning ‘cause knowledge is its own freedom.” And damn. Doesn’t that just shine even more light on the fact that students aren’t taught the truth about a lot of our American history in school? Why aren’t certain things taught, or are altered? Because “knowledge is its own freedom.”

This fictional telling of the first Memorial Day (Decoration Day) was very moving. 

The first Decoration Day in Charleston, South Carolina occurred on May 1, 1865 when freed enslaved people, abolitionists, and more decorated the graves of 257 fallen Union soldiers who died fighting for the freedom of enslaved people.

May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, New York, a Decoration Day was held to honor fallen Civil War soldiers.

1882, Decoration Day became Memorial Day to remember American soldiers lost in all wars.



Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o is heartbreaking, sweet, and uplifting all at once. I adored it. Every child needs to read about Sulwe...and Night 🌚 and Day 🌝. I want to own this book. That’s how much I love Sulwe.



ANTI-RACISM BOOKS FOR ADULTS:


If you don’t understand systemic racism or how the BIPOC community and individuals have so many disadvantages, you should pick up this book. This book has great information, talking points, and gets into many topics. Strongly recommended.



This book title may upset you, and that’s a good reason to read it and learn why that is. Everyone should read this book. By everyone, I mean EVERYONE, especially those who are reluctant or think they are exempt for one reason or another. This is important work, and trust me, if you’re white, you DO have work to do. Understand your privilege and how it impacts others. Dig deep and come to terms with your thinking that’s influenced by white supremacy. (It’s part of our society. No matter how religious you are. No matter how nice or accepting or loving.) Read the passages, reflect, and do the journaling prompts honestly. After that, keep educating yourself. This is lifetime work. Not one book work. Not even if you’ve read ten books and watched all the documentaries. Become aware of your privilege and racial thoughts every single day, do better, change. Never stop. Look for ways to do more, to make a difference. Don’t shrug. Don’t brush it off. The time is now.



If you call yourself a feminist, you need to read this book. 



Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race: I only knew about racial issues and injustices in America, so it was interesting learning about the history of racism in Britain. 



I was reading this book on July 4th, 2020. I also read content about the Fourth of July recommended by The Great Unlearn: Black, on the Fourth of July and



QUESTION: What diverse children's books have you read and loved? What books about social justice and/or anti-racism have you read and recommend?




22 comments:

  1. I've read many of the books featured in this post and have many in my possession waiting to be read. I read Anne's original diary but will have to add the graphic novel to my list. The March series is also a great graphic novel to check out. Reading and enjoying "They Called Us Enemey" now.
    Thank you for mentioning my book.
    Great post!

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    1. Thank you so much for recommending the March series graphic novels. I looked them up and will definitely be reading those.

      You're very welcome, Toi! Your book is great, relevant, and important. <3

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  2. Hi Chrys - what an excellent series you're doing here ... we all need to read more ... I learnt a lot when I was in Canada, and was introduced to books I'd never have got to had I not been over there. I've lots to read and lots to get to to read ... so much. It's great to know that there are people, who are prepared to learn and understand more about life - we don't think about things ... cheers Hilary

    PS I need to read more of your posts and the links you've given us ... I'll get there!!

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    1. I agree. We all need to read more, and to learn more.

      Thank you so much for your comment, Hilary!

      P.S. take your time. <3

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  3. Thanks for sharing, Chrys. I like that the middle grade stories are graphic novels. They might appeal to more kids. And they all deal with important issues that kids need to know about. I did read about the Japense internment as a kid and was appalled. I still am. And Asian hate is a big worry for me these days with a daughter adopted from China.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Natalie! Graphic novels, I think, will really appeal to more kids. Heck, they appeal to me! Especially when I'm in a reading rut.

      Asian hate is a big concern for me as well. My sister was adopted from the Philippines. She owns a restaurant. She's been told to go back to her own country by an angry customer. My nephews are half-Asian, half-Black. I worry about them, too. I also worry about my brother-in-law. Lots of worrying going on.

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  4. I was going to recommend John Lewis's graphic novel(s), March, as well. Very powerful read.

    Amazing collection of books you've gathered here. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I really, really want to read those graphic novels. I can't believe I hadn't heard of them until now.

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  5. Great post with excellent books. Our Canadian history has so many tragic examples of racism (including far too many in today's world). I had a high school teacher who made sure we learned that "history is written by the winners" which means it's often fiction, not reality.

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    1. Thank you, Jemi!

      I love that your history teacher made sure their students learned that. Kudos to that teacher.

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  6. Good collection and great reminders for parents and children.

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  7. I was just wondering about graphic novels. There's a student who's a reluctant reader who enjoyed a graphic novel about Nat Turner, and I was hoping to find some other books he might enjoy. As for the anti-racism books, that work is so important. Alas, those that most need the education are least likely to do the work.

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    1. I actually saw your comment on Natalie’s post about wanting to discover more graphic novels and thought, “What a coincidence!”

      I agree that the people who should read anti-racism books the most are the ones who won’t.

      Thank you so much for commenting, Liz!

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  8. That's a great selection of books. There are several there that I've read, and more than I haven't. I'm adding some to my list, especially from the adult section :)

    I have been trying to remember when I first became aware of the Japanese internment in WWII. I feel like I've always known about it, though probably it was mentioned in HS history and covered more in high school. I do know that the Japanese Americans I grew up around never spoke of it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Rebecca!

      Yes, in the two graphic novels here the adult characters also never talked about the internment camps afterward, out of pride and not wanting to relive it, etc.

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  9. When I studied the history of internment camps for Japanese Americans back in high school, the textbooks made it sound like it was a "good" thing for them because some of them got the opportunity to go to college. I was just a teenager back then, but even then I knew that the textbook's version of what really happened was b.s. Many people dismiss Asian hate because they think it doesn't matter as much as what happens to other races or because Asians aren't always as vocal about how they're treated. But those people who dismiss it are wrong. What happens to Asians is important, and it's important that they're taken seriously. It's great that there are writers who try to educate people on Asian Americans' history.

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    1. I love everything about your comment. I’ve done research about how history in ptextbooks are watered down or left out entirely. Texas and California produce the most textbooks, with Texas in the lead. They have asked McGraw-Hill to change what’s published in them based on their ideologies. A textbook in Texas said enslaved peoples were “workers.” Just, no. It’s really messed up. As you said, BS.

      Thank you for commenting!

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  10. I'm not sure I have read any children's book on racism, but it's been a while since I read a children's book. I would highly recommend "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy" by Gary Schmidt (about a black community in Maine that was destroyed in the early 20th Century. As for the Japanese internment, "Snow Falling on Cedar" was excellent, but it's an adult book. I just finished reading Howard Thruman's, "Jesus and the Disinherited"

    https://fromarockyhillside.com

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    1. The books here on anti-racism are for adults, but I did read one for kids called This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work.

      Thank you for the recommendations! I’ll check them out.

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  11. I need to pick up George Takei's book for my kids. My grandma was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA - first generation. Then the war hit and her family was relocated to Poston, AZ. She would tell me about how she had all these trophies for running track in school, and she lost them all. Her name was Yoshiko, but people called her Helen. Her brothers still got drafted for the war, despite their country locking them behind barbed wire. When the war ended, there wasn't anything left for them in CA, so she and my grandpa (they met in the camp) moved to Idaho because his friend offered him a job as a mechanic. I've always admired her. I did grow up learning about the Japanese internment from a first-hand source.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Loni. I am so sorry for what your grandma and her family (as well as your grandpa) went through. It’s horrible the things Japanese-Americans were put through and how they were treated. (And how they’re still being treated today.) I’m sending your grandma love. She does sound like an admirable woman. ❤️

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