New Books about Race, Stereotypes and Black Lives!


Disclosure: I was sent digital copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are my own.

Have you been enjoying your holidays? I have not been writing since I have been taking time to be with my family. This holiday season has been special for us because we are realizing it is probably the last one with my father being somewhat mentally present. His Alzheimer's is getting bad and we know the end is coming whether he will be alive and not aware or die this year we are beginning to prepare ourselves. This week I am getting ready for Hazel's birthday. We decided to have a small gathering of girls from her school and doing our best to keep them socially distant and with masks. But before the year ends I wanted to review these four books. Two of these books have not been released yet and the other two are new in the past couple of months. It seems fitting to end 2020 with books about race, stereotypes and Black lives. 

We will start with a book about and by one of my personal heroes, Katherine Johnson. Actually the book is by Katherine and two of her daughters, Joylette Hylick and Katehrine Moore. The book is One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon and a Lifelong Mission and is illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. It is being released on January 5, 2021. I highly suggest you get a copy when it comes out! It is recommended for preschool through third grade.

From the Publisher:

This inspirational picture book reveals what is was like for a young black mother of three to navigate the difficult world of the 1950s and 60s and to succeed in an unwelcoming industry to become one of the now legendary "hidden figures" of NASA computing and space research.

Johnson's own empowering narrative is complemented by the recollections of her two daughters about their mother's work and insights about how she illuminated their paths, including one daughter's fight for civil rights and another's journey to become a NASA mathematician herself. The narrative gracefully weaves together Johnson's personal story, her influence on her daughters' formative years, her and her daughters' fight for civil rights, and her lasting impact on NASA and space exploration. Filled with personal reflections, exclusive family archival photos, and striking illustrations, readers will be immersed in this deeply personal portrayal of female empowerment, women in STEM, and the breaking down of race barriers across generations. Historical notes, photo/illustration notes, and a time line put the story into historical and modern-day context.

The inspirational tale of Johnson's perseverance is both intimate and global, showcasing the drive of each generation to push one step further than the last. With its evocative family album-style format and novel approach to storytelling, One Step Further is sure to inspire the next generation of rising stars.

From Crafty Moms Share:

As I mentioned Katherine is one of my personal heroes. I love her story and find it so inspiring but I also love how her daughters are included in this book. Their comments about racism they lived through and their own experiences. I also love hearing in Katherine's own words what it was like going to NACA (now NASA) for the first time and how it felt to be treated with the segregation. I also love hearing about her determination and perseverance. I also love her daughters' memories of her from their childhood as well as hearing about their activism in the Civil Rights Movement. I also loved to learn what her daughters did with their lives--two became teachers and one worked for NASA. At the end of the book are pages about the racial segregation that existed in the United States as well as pages about Katherine Johnson's life. Sadly she died this year (2020) at the age of 101. 

Our next book is not a book to read but an activity book. It is What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book by Laleña Garcia and illustrated by Caryn Davidson. This book came out at the end of October. It is perfect to begin talking about race and stereotypes with younger elementary children. It is recommended for preschool through fourth grade.

From the Publisher:

This powerful activity book will engage hands, hearts, and minds as it introduces children to the guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, the three founders--Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Opal Tometi--anchored its work in a list of guiding principles, developed through conversation with other activists. These principles commit the movement to empathy, loving engagement, and just action among its participants; affirm the importance of Black women, families, elders, and LGBTQ folk; and celebrate the strength and diversity of Black people in their communities and around the globe.

Now young people can explore these powerful principles in What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book. Created by two teachers with more than thirty-five years of educational experience between them, the book presents the guiding principles in down-to-earth, child-friendly language, with each principle accompanied by writing prompts, space for children or adults to create their own reflections, and a coloring page. Supporting materials guide adults in sharing the principles with children and encourage kids to dream big and take action within their communities. An essential resource for anyone discussing racial equity with young people, What We Believe offers a beautiful and inspiring lens on the most important social justice movement of our time.

Lee & Low Books will donate a portion of its proceeds from the book to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc.

From Crafty Moms Share:

I love any book that helps teachers and parents talk about discrimination, prejudices and social issues. This book does that and it is aimed at young children which is so important. It is not just about race but about LGBTQ issues as well as solutions like loving engagement, restorative justice, intergenerational, globalism, and collective value. It is definitely focused on Black lives but hits home with all diversity as well. This is a book that every school should be doing and talking about with kids.

Our next book is for older kids. It is recommended for grades 6 to 9. It is This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science Is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Drew Shannon. When talking about racism we need to look at stereotypes. This book teaches kids about stereotypes and how the brain learns them. 

From the Publisher:

An essential overview of the science behind stereotypes: from why our brains form them to how recognizing them can help us be less biased. From the time we're babies, our brains constantly sort and label the world around us --- a skill that's crucial for our survival. But, as adolescents are all too aware, there's a tremendous downside: when we do this to groups of people it can cause great harm. Here's a comprehensive introduction to the science behind stereotypes that will help young people make sense of why we classify people, and how we can change our thinking. It covers the history of identifying stereotypes, secret biases in our brains, and how stereotypes affect our sense of self. Most importantly, it covers current research into how science can help us overcome our biases, offering hope for a future where stereotypes are less prevalent and the world is more fair for everyone. Written by award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi, this timely and hopeful book addresses the issues of discrimination, racism, sexism, ableism and homophobia and offers concrete suggestions on how to make change. It uses scientific inquiry and loads of relatable and interesting examples to explore these uncomfortable topics in age-appropriate and engaging ways. Chapters, sidebars and colorful illustrations break the text into manageable chunks. Besides the many ways this book could be used to inspire frank and in-depth discussions on the importance of addressing stereotypes and bias, it also links to many science and social studies curriculum topics. Backmatter includes an extensive list of sources, suggestions for further reading and an index.


From Crafty Moms Share:

I love how this book teaches the science behind stereotypes as well as sharing various studies that have been done. It is written so kids can understand the science and is written in a way that will open discussions about stereotypes which is so important to be having in classrooms and families. I love that it also gives suggestions on ways to fight stereotypes and discrimination. This book is written in a way to engage the reader and entertain them while they are learning. It is one that should be used in social studies classes around our country.

Our final book is Let's Talk About Race: A Guide for White People by Fern L. Johnson and Marlene G. Fine. It is a book for every white person who wants to learn the reasons for the Black Lives Matter Movement and their own racism. It is coming out in April 2021. 

From the Publisher:

Let's Talk Race confronts why white people struggle to talk about race, why we need to own this problem, and how we can learn to do the work ourselves and stop expecting Black people to do it for us.

Written by two specialists in race relations and parents of two adopted African American sons, the book provides unique insights and practical guidance, richly illustrated with personal examples, anecdotes, research findings, and prompts for personal reflection and conversations about race.

Coverage includes:
  • Seeing the varied forms of racism
  • How we normalize and privilege whiteness
  • Essential and often unknown elements of Black history that inform the present
  • Racial disparities in education, health, criminal justice, and wealth
  • Understanding racially-linked cultural differences
  • How to find conversational partners and create safe spaces for conversations
  • Conversational do's and don'ts.

Let's Talk Race is for all white people who want to face the challenges of talking about race and working towards justice and equity.

From Crafty Moms Share:

This is the book we, white people, were begging for as the racial riots hit last spring. Or at least the white people who wanted to help. White people were awakened into the movement to end racism by the death of George Floyd, but they didn't truly know how to help. This book is the guide we need. It helps each of us focus on our own prejudices. It helps us to know what to do and how to help as well as for us to open our eyes to see the true discrimination that is occurring across our country. This is a must read book. (I actually really want to get a physical copy when it comes out because I want it as a reference and read physical books better than digital copies.) If you were wondering how to help as the racial riots occurred across the country or wanted to know more about the racism Black people face daily, get this book. If you are one of the white people who don't think there is racism anymore or much of it, get this book and open your eyes. Note: this is not a children's book but high schoolers and maybe middle schoolers could read it.

So I am going to end 2020 with these reviews. I hope you will check out these books. They are strong books to help us realize that Black Lives Matter and what roles we play in the racism and discrimination that exists in our country. I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy new year! I hope we can all feel safe and help end this pandemic as well as the discrimination in 2021!