35 Books to Spark Crucial Conversations About Racism in America

Educate yourself, your community, and your kids with these reads.

At BookPal, we believe in the power of books to ignite continuous learning and growth. In this critical time of change, many are looking towards literature to educate, encourage, and inspire. Below are a few great titles in various categories to start the conversation surrounding race and anti-racism.


So You Want to Talk About Race1. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

It’s no surprise why this title is at the top of Amazon charts. Prolific writer and speaker Ijeoma Olu provides a useful, yet blunt examination of race in America with clear, constructive language that allows any reader to engage in dialogue with others about race.

2. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

3. Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

4. Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey

5. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Social Science

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential framework for how to see, acknowledge, and counter racism. It is a must for anyone looking to understand how structural racism works.

2. Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, PhD

3. Making All Black Lives Matter by Barbara Ransby

4. Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson

5. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

History & Politics

The Color of Law1. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

For those interested in the history of racial segregation, Richard Rothstein offers a poignant argument on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation. This groundbreaking study will transform your understanding of 20th-century urban history.

2. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

3. Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

4. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

5. White Rage by Carol Anderson

Memoir & Essays

When They Call You A Terrorist1. When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele

Discover the powerful story of Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how it came to be. Winner of the 2018 Outstanding Works of Literature Award, this memoir is one you won’t want to miss.

2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

3. Citizen by Claudia Rankine

4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou with Foreword by Oprah Winfrey

5. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward

Adult Fiction

The Vanishing Half1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennet provides a stunning novel about twin sisters, once inseparable, who choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. Though they are separated by miles, their worlds come together when their own daughters’ storylines intersect.

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

3. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Young Adult

Anger is a Gift1. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Dealing with themes of anxiety, police brutality, queer romance, and grief, this book paints the picture of a real-life dystopia with Moss as our revolutionary—our hesitant hero, our raging war cry, our soldier for justice. His losses, victories, and looming uncertainties will propel readers of all ages to stand together and to hope.

2. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

3. Dear Martin by Nic Stone

4. Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott and Loveis Wise (Illustrated by)

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Picture Books

Antiracist Baby1. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky

Perfect for parents looking to raise the next generation of social justice activists, this refreshing board book from award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves.

2. I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo

3. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison

4. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez

5. We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates and Joe Mathieu


This post was written by Megan Habel, Brand Strategist at BookPal.  She is currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

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