Resources for Understanding Racial Injustice

We know that many of you feel confused and outraged in the wake of George Floyd’s death. As our country reels, the insidious and long-standing history of individual, institutional, and structural racism here may feel challenging to comprehend.

As we all struggle to better understand the roots and realities of this racism, we humbly offer you these YA resources from Patten’s shelves and from our Cloud Library. (Please note that while racism is, unfortunately, routinely experienced by many diverse groups in our country, this list of resources is purposefully focused on the experiences of Black citizens in America.)

These books won’t guide us out of this mess, but maybe they will shed some light on how we got into it.



I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (print, ebook, e-audio)

Accused!: The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner (print)

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis (print)

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell (print)

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, adapted from the work of Ibram X. Kendi (print, audio, e-audio)

Give Us the Vote!: Over 200 Years of Fighting for the Ballot by Susan Goldman Rubin (print)

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (print, ebook)

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (print, ebook)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (print, ebook)


Because fiction remains such a powerful way of gaining understanding and empathy, we highly recommend these realistic fiction, historical fiction, and classic novels whose characters wrestle with questions of racism, activism, and justice, past and present.  All but one of these titles were penned by #OwnVoices authors (that is, Black authors depicting Black lives).

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (print)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (print, ebook, e-audio)

Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson (print)

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (White writer retraces the Tulsa Race Riots from multiple racial perspectives)  (print)

The March Trilogy by John Lewis (graphic novel) (print)

I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina (graphic novel) (print)

Fire from the Rock by Sharon M. Mills (print)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (print, ebook, e-audio)

Monster by Walter Dean Myers (print, ebook, e-audio)

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds (printebook, e-audio)

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (print, ebook, e-audio)

X by Ilyasah Shabazz (print)

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (print, ebook, e-audio)

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred Taylor (print, ebook, e-audio)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (print, audio, ebook, e-audio, DVD)

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (print, audio, ebook, e-audio)

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (print, ebook)

American Street by Ibi Zoboi (print, ebook)

News & Updates

  • September 21, 2022
    Teen De-Stress Day

    September 29, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Teen Space