Contemporary teen and young adult books are holding a mirror up to racism, and Jason Reynolds’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You (Little Brown, €22.69) is the go-to non-fiction book for young people to explain why we are where we are now. Adapted from a book by Ibram X. Kendi, it is a timely and accessible anti-racist manifesto for young people.
Fiction is a particularly potent tool for engaging with difficult topics and instilling empathy in young readers. The Hate U Give (Walker, €9.59) by Angie Thomas is one of a cluster of young-adult novels that confront police brutality, racial profiling and the Black Lives Matter movement. Featuring 16-year-old Starr, who witnesses the fatal police shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, it is a brilliant, powerful must-read.
Jay Coles wrote his first novel Tyler Johnson Was Here (Little Brown, €11.19) about a black teenager whose twin brother is shot by a police officer, as a way to process his depression and rage after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighbourhood watch coordinator in a gated community in Florida in 2012.
Nic Stone’s debut novel, Dear Martin (Simon and Schuster, €10.80) is about a black high-school scholarship student at an Atlanta prep school who becomes a victim of racial profiling when an off-duty officer fires at him and his best friend during an argument at a traffic light. It’s a pacy, hard-to-look-away-from story with very real characters.
Monster (HarperCollins, €9.53) by Walter Dean Myers deals with the painful inequality at the heart of America’s criminal justice system, while Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses (Penguin €11.20) is a classic forbidden-love story, set in a segregated society: a powerful exploration of race, oppression and love at odds with politics.
Children of Blood and Bone (Macmillan, €11.20) by Tomi Adeyemi is a refreshing YA fantasy with an all-West African cast of characters, while Dread Nation (Titan €11.20) by Justina Ireland is a fantasy-laced alternate history that explores oppression, racism and slavery.
Monday’s Not Coming (Harper Collins, €10.80) by Tiffany D Jackson is a punch-in-the-gut thriller about the marginalisation of people of colour and is highly recommended.
These books provide excellent starting points for discussions about racism as well as being terrific reads.
Sunday Indo Living