Books and other resources

Here are just some of the many excellent books and other resources to learn about the history many of us never learned, and to understand structural racism – how we got here and what we might do to become an anti-racist society. 

If you have a resource we should know about, email us at CoDE.diversity1@gmail.com.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving

For 25 years, Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn’t understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one “aha!” moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. Waking Up White is the story of her journey.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Us and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee

This New York Times bestseller offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone— not just for people of color.

The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein

This former New York Times columnist and research associate at the Economic Policy Institute demonstrates with exacting precision how segregation in America is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the federal, state and local levels.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

This book explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, Robin Miles, et al.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt

With a perspective that is scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Dr. Eberhardt offers tools and language to address racial bias at all levels of society— our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo 

This NYT bestseller shows how racism affects nearly every aspect of American life and helps readers engage in honest conversations about race.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevensen

This NYT bestseller is the story of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the criminal justice system.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

This is a one-volume “community” history of African Americans, written by 90 writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span.

The New Jim Crow, by Michele Alexander

Former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander argues that the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness.

Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank

Culled from long-ignored documents and reports—and bolstered by photos, publications, maps, and period drawings—this book shows how the North profited from slavery and exposes the thousand-acre plantations that existed in towns such as Salem, Connecticut.

EL Norte – The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson

This sweeping saga of the Spanish history and influence in North America, beginning in the early 16th century, illustrates cultural issues of language, community, race and nationality which are still issues today.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States: Revisioning American History by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Laural Merlington, et al.

This NYT bestseller offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.

Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History, and Oral Traditions Teach Us About Their Communities and Cultures by Lucianne Lavin (author), Rosemary Volpe (editor), Paul Grant-Costa (contributor)

This is a portrait of the rich history and culture of indigenous peoples in Connecticut before European contact, of their changing lives during the past 400 years of colonial and state history.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

This New York Times-bestselling book on the psychology of racism shows us how to talk about race in America.

The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist

A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America’s economic supremacy was built on the backs of enslaved people.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

This NYT bestselling 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.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

This Pulitzer Prize-winner author chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of Black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

It Could Happen Here: Why America Is Tipping From Hate To The Unthinkable And How We Can Stop It
By Jonathan Greenblatt

Anti-Defamation League CEO discusses how antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance is gathering momentum in the US and warns that quiet prejudices can mutate over time into acts of brutality. Greenblatt shows how individuals, organizations, and society can strike back against hate.

Anti-Semitism Here and Now
By Deborah Lipstadt

In a series of letters to an imagined college student and imagined colleague, acclaimed historian Deborah Lipstadt discusses the uptick in antisemitism over the last decade and suggests what can be done to combat it.

Jews Don’t Count
By David Baddiel

British comedian David Baddiel addresses what he considers the relative ignorance of antisemitism on the part of modern-day progressives compared to other forms of discrimination.

The Plot Against America
By Philip Roth

This novel is an alternative history in which Franklin D. Roosevelt is defeated in the presidential election of 1940 by Charles Lindbergh. The novel follows the fortunes of the Roth family during the Lindbergh presidency, as antisemitism becomes more acceptable in American life and Jewish-American families are persecuted on various levels.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
By Art Spiegelman

This Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Memoirs:

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Finding Me by Viola Davis

Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America by Maria Hinojosa

1619 (New York Times)

Code Switch (NPR)

Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s (Connie Walker)

For kids:

Keyshawn Solves It  Ten-year-old Keyshawn is a 10-year-old African American boy who sets out to unlock a mystery in his neighborhood – bikes are going missing, and these bikes are needed for the Juneteenth parade. During his quest, he learns from his parents and others about Juneteenth. The podcast highlights how parents and caregivers can talk about family heritage and culture, community issues and everyday challenges.

The Emancipator, collaboration with The Boston Globe and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research

The 1619 Project, The New York Times Magazine

How to Talk with Kids about Race and Racism, videos and other resources from PBS

Talking about Race, tools and resources for parents and other caregivers, teachers, advocates, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture

About Juneteenth

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan (author), Keturah A. Bobo (illustrator), ages 4-8

Black activist Opal Lee had a vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday. This book recognizes and celebrates “freedom for all.”

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson (author), E.B. Lewis (illustrator), ages 5-9

Through the eyes of a little girl, this stunning picture book tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South.

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper (author, illustrator), ages 6-9

Mazie is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history ─ the day her ancestors were no longer enslaved. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.

Celebrating Juneteenth by Jody Jensen Shaffer (author), Kathleen Petelinsek (Illustrator), ages 5-8

Readers will discover the history behind Juneteenth and find out ways to celebrate on their own.

The Juneteenth Story by Alliah L. Agostini (author), Sawyer Cloud (Illustrator), ages 6-9

This introductory history of Juneteenth details the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for the enslaved people in Texas to hear the news. 

About African American History

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, ages 6-9

The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her. This is Ruby’s story of courage, faith and hope.

I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, ages 5-8

Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks is the 3rd hero in the New York Times bestselling picture book biography series.

Before She Was Harriett by Lesa Cline-Ransome ages 4-8

An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor an American heroine (Harriet Tubman) in a Coretta Scott King Honor and Christopher Award-winning picture book.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine, 5-9 years

A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist

A Door Made for Me by Tyler Merritt (author), Lonnie Ollivierre (illustrator), ages 5 and up

This is the story of a young Black boy and his first experience of overt racism. 

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, ages 6-10

This book features 40 trailblazing Black women in American history, including: abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, ages 10-13

This powerful memoir tells the moving story of Woodson’s childhood. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 70s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson (authors), Nikkolas Smith (illustrator), ages 7-10

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States.

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson, ages 10 and up

Historical middle-grade novel about two enslaved children’s escape from a plantation and the many ways they find freedom.

Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals, ages 12-17

Native American History

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (author), Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator), ages 2-7

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom (author), Michaela Goade (illustrator), ages 3-7

Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen, ages 9-11

Latin American History

Abuela by Arthur Dorros, ages 3-6

The magical story of a young girl and her grandmother as they fly over the streets, sights, and people of New York City, celebrating their home and relationship along the way.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller by Pura Belpré, ages 4-8

Picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, ages 4-8

Learning the origins of her many names (Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela) gives her a new appreciation for her ancestors and their history.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, ages 3-9

Picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes, and how they find their way in a new place.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina (author), Angela Dominguez (illustrator), ages 5-8

The loving story of how Mia and her grandmother learn each other’s language by cooking together – and with the help of a bird.

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay (The Tia Lola Stories) by Julia Alvarez, ages 8-12

When Miguel moves to Vermont with his mother and little sister, he must learn to navigate two cultures and reflects on what it means to be Latino and a child of immigrants. Then, his aunt Lola, comes from the Dominican Republic to help take care of them and his life gets even more interesting.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, ages 9-12

The story of how Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their privileged life in Mexico and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp in California, facing hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, and a lack of acceptance.

Asian Americans

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho (author), Dung Ho (illustrator), ages 2-7

This picture book celebrates Asian-shaped eyes and family heritage.

My Tree by Hope Lim (author), Il Sung Na (illustrator), ages 4-8

When a little boy moves to the U.S. from Korea, he finds solace in a plum tree in his backyard that reminds him of home. When a storm knocks it down, he continues to play in the tree, as do the neighborhood children. A new tree is planted, mirroring the new friendships the child has forged in his new home.

Watercress by Andrea Wang (author), Jason Chin (illustrator), ages 6-10

The story of a daughter of Chinese immigrants moving to a small Ohio town, seeing the differences between herself and her white classmates – and then learning more about and appreciating her Chinese heritage.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim, ages 9-12

The story of Yumi, who is shy on the outside but dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian. Illustrates the complicated, challenging, yet loving relationship between Asian immigrant parents and American-born children