Reading List

#HeartBeatsHate

Black Klansman: A Memoir

In 1978, Police detective Ron Stallworth launched an undercover investigation into Colarado Springs Ku Klux Klan activity. During the investigation, he gained membership into the KKK, eventually being asked to serve as the chapter leader, and even served as David Duke’s bodyguard. Did we mention that Detective Stallworth was black? Stallworth’s book explores how he worked to pull off this sting operation.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Known by scientists only as HeLa, Henrietta Lacks was an impoverished, black tobacco farmer whose cells were unknowingly taken in 1951 and used in a number of scientific studies, including the creation of the polio vaccine, insights into cloning and gene mapping, and breakthroughs in in vitro fertilization. Her cells have been bought and sold by millions, while family cannot even afford health insurance. Exploring the intersection of ethics, race, medicine, and trying to understand family.

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Long Walk to Freedom

This autobiography traces the history of Nelson Mandela’s fight against apartheid, his quarter-century of imprisonment, and his rise to serve as President of South Africa. A story of overcoming struggles and facing adversity, Mandela’s story continues to provide others with hope and the promise of a better future.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

It’s the deep south in the great depression. A black man has been falsley accused of raping a white girl, and racial tensions rise. To Kill a Mockingbird shares how one girl, Jean Louise (Scout) finch awakens to the realities of race and racism, not only in her town, but in her country.

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Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Racist thought is alive and well in contemporary America, despite many Americans beliefs to the contrary. In this book, Ibram X. Keni explores the long and lingering history of racist ideas, illustrating that they didn’t arise from ignorance and hatred, but rather were intentionally created to justify and rationalize the nation’s entrenched and discriminatory policies.

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When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Author Patrisse Khan-Cullors was raised by her single mother in an impoverished Los Angeles neighbourhood, where she experienced the prejudice and persecution of black Americans at the hands of the police. In 2013, Patrisse’s outrage of Trayvon Martin’s killer going free led her, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, to co-found Black Lives Matter. Championing human rights, despite being condemned as terrorists, Patrisse and her co-founders survived. An empower account of standing up, speaking out and pushing back.

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Black Like Me

In the 1950, America was divided by colour. And no where was this more pervasive, perhaps, than the deep south. White journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross this colour line. Taking a medication to alter his skin tone, he gave up his privilege as a Southern white man to live a life as an unemployed black man. This memoir chronicles Giffin’s journey through the segregated south, as he experiences racism first-hand.

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

September 11. For Changez, who left Pakistan to study at Harvard and work in New York CIty at a prestigious financial analysis firm, it was a day when the world shifted under his feet. Before September 11, he was in love with an American woman from New York’s society. He was successful. After September 11, he no longer knew where he belonged.

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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

In this thought-provoking book, author Robin DiAngle tackles American racism by challenging white supremacy. In it, she explains how white people have misunderstood the concept of racism, refusing to talk about it openly, and challenges all white people to be courageous enough to see their role in the existing racist system.

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Between the World and Me

Written as a letter to his 15 year-old son, Samori, Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on how to live as a black person in America. In it, he shares of his childhood in Baltimore’s ghettos to his experience in university. Throughout the letter, he struggles to help his son navigate the world as a black boy - of his need to be “twice as good” and “follow the rules,” and that even then, things may not turn out right. A moving book that challenges all readers to reconsider what it means to live in a black body in today’s world.

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I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

At seven, Austin learned her parents named her to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white male. In her book, Austin Channing Brown explores how many institutions are falling short on claims of valuing diversity. In it she explores how white, middle-class Evangelicalism is playing a role in fueling racial hostility in America.

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The Handmaid's Tale

Set in the near future (sometimes frighteningly near in today’s political climate), The Handmaid’s Tale shares the story of a handmaid, named Offred, as she navigates Gilead. In Gilead, women are subjugated to the authority of men. They are not allowed to read, hold jobs or form true friendships. The society is divided into classes: Wives, who stand faithfully behind their husbands, Commanders in Gilead; Ecoonowives, who are able to remain married to low-ranking husbands and have children so long as they are faithful and free of sin; Marthas, who are servants in Commanders’ homes; Unwomen, who are the lowest ranking and are sent to forced labour camps; Jezebels, or sex-workeers; Aunts, who train the Handmaidens for their work; and, Handmaids who exist for one purpose only, breeding. The book follows Offred’s reflections on life before Gilead, and her efforts to lead a rebellion towards its downfall.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

An autobiographical tale, Maya shares her coming-of-age story, underscoring how strength of character and her love of literature helped her overcome her experiences of racism. The book follows Maya’s life from age 3 to 16, and sees her transition from victim to a dignified young woman with the courage and ability to stand up to racism.

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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide

Author Carol Anderson examines the white reaction - including rage and racism - to African American advances to full participation in American democracy. Through a historical analysis, she reexamines the decisions made to “protect democracy” and shedding light on America’s white rage.

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Written when black Americans were celebrating the presidency of Barack Obama, hailed the nation’s “triumph over race,” the author explores how and why the majority of young black men in major American cities have been labeled felons and are spending their lives behind bars. Somehow, despite eliminating Jim Crow laws, many African American communities remain trapped in subordinate social classes. This critique argues that the racial caste system in America hasn’t been undone, only redesigned.

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I Am Malala

Mala was 15 years old when she refused to stay silent against the Taliban rule. On October 9, on her trip to school, she was shot in the head and left for dead - the Taliban’s effort to teach her and others to get in line. But, she survived the attack, and her voice grew stronger still.

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American Born Chinese

Three stories collide for an unexpected twist. First, all Jin Wang wants to do is fit in, which is hard when you’re the only Chinese American in your school. Second, a retelling of the beloved Chinese fable The Monkey King. And, finally, Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and this is ruining his cousin Danny’s life at school.

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The Hate U Give

Starr Carter lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood she calls home, and the upscale prep school she attends. The tension she feels is tightened the day she sees her friend, Khalil, killed by a police officer. Khalil was unarmed, but the police officer thought otherwise. She’s the only witness to the shooting. The story follows Starr and her two worlds as they deal with the national headline case.

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Dear Martin

Why is an Ivy League-bound student in handcuffs? Dear Martin follows Justyce McAllister’s struggles in leaving one neighbourhood behind, only to be ridiculed by his new classmates. He journals to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to try to find present-day insights in his teachings. A timely book that deals with the realities of racial profiling.

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Stargirl

A story of standing out and fitting in. The book follows the quirky Stargirl, who is known equally for her outlandish outfits and behaviour as by her kiness, bravery and non-conformity.

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All American Boys

Two teens - one black, the other white - grapple with the effects of a single violent act that has left their school, community and country divided by racial tension. And to think, it all started with a bag of chips.

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Out of Darknesss

Set against the backdrop of the 1937 New London school explosion (the worst school disaster in American History), this novel explores segregation, love, family and the forces that can destroy.

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Wonder

August Pullman was born with a number of health issues that kept him home from school - until now. Told from various perspectives, Wonder tells the story of one community’s journey towards empathy, compassion and acceptance.

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Monster

Steve Harmon is a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. By telling his story, Steve seeks to understand how one decision can alter our lives.

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How It Went Down

Tariq Johnson is 16 when he dies from gunshot wounds, sending his community into a spiral. Tariq is black. His shooter, white. A timely and relevant story that seeks to make sense of a life violently cut short, and the search for truth.

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The March Trilogy

The inside story of the Civil Right Movement shared by one its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. This award-winning graphic novel trilogy recounts Lewis’ life in the movement.

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The Distance Between Us

Reyna Grande shares her story of living in a world divided. Growing up her parents left Mexico for “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) leaving her Reyna and her siblings to live in an overcrowded home with her grandparents. That is until her mother returns, and Reyna makes her own journey to El Otro Lado. An insightful first-hand account of the immigrant experience.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

All that separates Bruno and Shmuel is a fence. And yet, they live lives worlds apart. Set in a World War II prison camp, this book follows Bruno as he grows from ignorance to understanding.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This award-winning novel tells the story of Arthur Spirit, called Junior, a young Native American boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reserve. Determined to create his own future, Junior decides to attend an off-rez high school where the only other Indian is the school’s mascot.

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The Lines We Cross

Michael never challenged his parents political views until Mina showed up in school. A timely tale that tackles Islamophobia, prejudice and fear.

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The Giving Tree

A timeless parable about the gift of giving and acceptance. Picture book.

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Horton Hears a Who

A book that reminds us that a person's a person, no matter how small! Picture book.

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Nerdy Birdy

It can be lonely when you're a nerdy birdy. A book about differences and belonging. Picture book.

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Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed

Can Mary's good deed change the world? Picture book.

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One

The colours aren't getting along - until One shows them how to stand up, stand together and count. Picture book.

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The Three Questions

Young Nikolai knows he wants to be the best person possible, but he doesn't always know what is the right thing to do. Picture book.

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Enemy Pie

A book about kindness, coursety, respect and friendship. A funny and endearing story about truning a best enemy into a best friend. Picture book.

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We All Sing With the Same Voice

No matter where children live - or what they look like - they're all the same where it matters the most: at heart! Picture book. (Originally featured as a song on Sesame Street)

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Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

A beautiful story to encourage kindness in children. Picture book.

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Strictly No Elephants

The Pet Club doesn't understand that, like people, pets can come in all shapes and sizes. A book on the lessons of friendship and acceptance. Picture book.

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Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

A story about a girl who stands up to bullying, and remembers the lesson of her grandma: to stand tall. Picture book.

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Most People

The world can be a scary place - but shouldn't we be more aware of kindness too? Picture book.

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I Walk With Vaness: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

A story of one girl who inspires her whole community to stand up to bullying. Inspired by real events. Picture book.

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The Monster Who Lost His Mean

A monster loses his M and becomming an onster, and teaches us the important lesson of being kind. Picture book.

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Last Stop on Market Street

While on the bus with his grandma, a young boy struggles to understand why he is so different from his friends. Picture book.

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The Big Umbrella

A timely and timeless book about acceptance. Picture book.

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Extra Yarn

A young girl uses a magic box of yarn to transform her community. Picture book

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The Rabbit Listened

A tender tale about the importance of listening to another's hurt. YPicture book.

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The Invisible Boy

Kindness is powerful and magical. Most importantly, it can help everyone be seen. Picture book.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Bruno's father is given a position of power at a Nazi concentration camp. There, he meets and befriends Shmuel, a prisoner. Young adult.

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