For the past few weeks in my self-isolation, I’ve been working on an Animal Crossing island that our library patrons can enjoy from home. I’ve created a YouTube video to highlight the main features of WBRL Isle. Many thanks to the other library folk who helped me collect special items for this island!
(The following essay was submitted as a final paper for my LIS 542: Library Preservation, Security and Risk Management course.)
Librarians and libraries are held to extremely high standards by patrons and staff who know their true and immense value. While libraries are often misunderstood and overlooked by those who choose to eschew them, every day libraries prove their worth as essential cornerstones of society. Many libraries have further surprised their communities and surpassed the expectations of even their most steadfast supporters by becoming tenacious strongholds during times of turmoil. While I wholeheartedly believe that libraries should do as much as they can for their communities in hard times, it has taken a pandemic for me to fully realize that we, too, have a limit. Libraries are sanctuaries for everyone in good times and bad, but there are times when staying open to the public is a health risk that can do more harm than good. It is therefore vital for both library staff and users that the right decisions are made when the risk is too high to remain open. During times of crisis, libraries must carefully determine what services can be provided while first and foremost protecting the mental and physical safety of their staff and patrons.
I decided to pursue a career in libraries around a decade ago, drawn to this profession because of my intense love of books and learning. It was not long after that I became familiar with specialized terms and movements like radical librarianship and “never-neutral”. I was inspired to fully realize that libraries are a vital community resource integral to fostering an informed and democratic society. Contrastingly, I also found myself becoming enraged time and time again when oblivious folk who clearly hadn’t stepped foot in a public library in years would make sweeping assumptions about what we do in libraries today. These (usually wealthy and privileged) people hand out ridiculous suggestions such as that Amazon should open local bookstores to “replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock” (Mourdoukotas, 2018). These sorts of offhand, dismissive remarks reveal the ignorance of the speaker, who seems to think a library is simply a building filled with books. Such notions fly in the face of what I’ve come to know about libraries: libraries are dedicated sanctuaries for action toward knowledge sharing, and library staff are stewards for their communities, working toward a common good. As Lankes puts it, “I have long contended that a room full of books is simply a closet but that an empty room with a librarian in it is a library… action is at the heart of what a library is” (2016).
Many anecdotes of library staff going above-and-beyond have made me feel proud of our profession and assured of the transformative power of libraries in their communities. The first time my eyes were opened in such a way was during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After the devastation that Katrina wrought, many libraries that were able to stay open provided essential services for people in need, such as providing accurate information, assisting with forms, listening and supporting, volunteering, and donating (Wilson, 2010). Years later, at the Alberta Library Conference in 2018, I had the privilege of hearing firsthand from Scott Bonner, director of Ferguson Municipal Library, how his library responded during civil unrest after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. When schools were closed, businesses were boarded up, and the streets were clashing with militarized police and protestors, he made a judgement call: “It didn’t matter how bad it got that night, if it’s safe, then I will open the library and have a school for peace” (Bonner, 2016). His inspiring account of working with teachers and students during a dark time in Ferguson’s history further cemented in my mind the potential for librarians to really step up when things get dicey.
However, I also discovered that librarians sometimes feel compelled to martyr themselves due to the deep values they feel subject to in their profession. This phenomenon, coined by Fobazi Ettarh as “vocational awe”, has real-life impacts on library staff:
In the face of grand missions of literacy and freedom, advocating for your full lunch break feels petty. And tasked with the responsibility of sustaining democracy and intellectual freedom, taking a mental health day feels shameful. Awe is easily weaponized against the worker, allowing anyone to deploy a vocational purity test in which the worker can be accused of not being devout or passionate enough to serve without complaint (2018).
Ettarh goes on to explain how the professional norms supported by vocational awe create class-barriers that restrict diversity in the profession while contributing to job-creep, under compensation, and burnout.
While these professional mores of vocational awe may be present during day-to-day library work, during a crisis they are doubly so. I remember working at my public library in Fort McMurray on May 3rd, 2016: it started out like any other day but quickly escalated into quiet panic as wildfire became visible out the library windows. Even as every one of our staff and patrons were distracted by the wall of flame and smoke visible across the river, and evacuation orders were being called for parts of our municipality, one well-meaning staff member wondered aloud if we should stay open as long as possible as a matter of duty to the community. Thankfully, management made a judgement call to close the library several hours before a city-wide evacuation was called, giving staff and patrons time to get where they needed to be and do what they could to prepare as best as possible before leaving their community for at least a month of sudden, mandatory evacuation. “Abandoning ship” is hard to do, but sometimes it really is the best decision for all.
Right now the world is in the midst of a serious global pandemic, and it has become clear that we must devote ourselves to “flattening the curve” to slow down the spread of the virus (Allain, 2020). As such, the best thing libraries can do right now for the health of patrons and staff is to close their doors for the time being:
Libraries have a chance to be community leaders right now by demonstrating appropriate behavior – staying home. The best way we can help our communities and ourselves is to encourage everyone to stay home. Everyone should act as if they are infected and work to reduce exposing others to infection. (Newman, 2020).
The vastly differing responses of libraries to the global covid-19 pandemic has become a fascinating and sobering example of public health risk vs. vocational awe in action. The hashtag #closethelibraries has accompanied countless pleas for governments and administrations of various levels to listen to the concerns of frontline workers who put themselves and their patrons at risk by working with items and spaces that come into contact with many people each day:
The decision by many city and county officials to keep libraries open during the start of the pandemic entailed particular risks to public library staff and patrons. The very ideals that public library professionals take pride in– welcoming service to all, the more the merrier- is exactly what exacerbates danger during an infectious disease crisis. Closure of schools and enjoinders to “work from home” during the pandemic meant more people displaced from other institutions would flock to public libraries that remained open, compounding the risk (LaPierre, 2020).
Some libraries have been doing a “soft close”, requiring staff to come in to work and offer services such as curbside pickup of items. However, current research suggests that covid-19 carriers may not show symptoms, and that the virus can be transferred on surfaces, such as books, keyboards, or DVD cases (Doremalen, Fauci, & Vaduganathan, 2020). The CDC revealed that covid-19 was found to be active on cruise ships for up to 17 days after they were evacuated (Moriarty et al, 2020). Even if staff were to follow safety protocols perfectly, “There is no feasible way to sanitize library books, many libraries are running low on cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be spared for the use of medical professionals, immunocompromised individuals, nursing homes, and the like” (closethelibraries.org, 2020). Yet, as of April 7th, many libraries are still open to varying extents, even after library staff working such shifts have begun to develop “coronavirus-like symptoms” (Ross, 2020).
Which risks outweigh the others? If we close a library, we risk potentially upsetting some people, blocking access to some services and collections temporarily, cancelling anticipated events, and so on. Yet, if we don’t close a library, or even if we do a “soft close”, we risk infecting our staff and patrons, accelerating the escalation of a global pandemic, increasing the strain on limited hospital resources, and possibly even contributing to a chain of events that could cause loss of life. I know which risks I’m willing, and not willing, to take.
Thankfully, making a responsible decision to close a library during a global health pandemic or similar crisis need not be a cry of helplessness or defeat. On the contrary, we can use these situations to champion some of the excellent online resources and services that we provide, highlighting our flexibility and multifaceted strengths: “Libraries are essential. Now is our time to show how innovative and creative we can be from home” (Newman, 2020). At the same time, we must also realize that it’s normal for everyone, including library staff, to be less productive during such anxious, stressful times:
For those with the privilege and ability to conduct their work from home, the coming weeks should be a time to focus on ourselves, our communities, and our loved ones. It should be a time to do nothing and produce little without the accompanying feeling of guilt or panic caused by a ping from a higher-up that you should be doing more as the rest of your world slowly cranks to a halt (Martin, 2020).
As one widely-shared text meme puts it more succinctly, “It’s okay to not be at your most productive during a [expletive] global pandemic (2020)”. Staff and patrons alike will face barriers to collection access, resources, and services, but a serious global pandemic is not “business as usual” and we shouldn’t pretend it is. Lives depend on this discretion.
To conclude, library workers must not succumb to the fallacy of elevating our profession toward saintly, self-sacrificing ends. Vocational awe would have us believe that closing the libraries, in any circumstance, shows weakness, misplaced priorities, and a lack of dedication to our profession — these sentiments are false. In closing our libraries during a global health pandemic, we are protecting the mental and physical health of our workers and library users, without which no library can thrive. We can use these unprecedented times of physical isolation to promote the variety of online resources, databases, and services we provide, taking comfort in knowing that we will welcome our community back to enjoy our full range of services and programming with open arms as soon as it is safe to do so.
Allain, R. (2020, March 24). The Promising Math Behind ‘Flattening the Curve’. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/the-promising-math-behind-flattening-the-curve/
Bonner, S. (2016). Ferguson Voices: Scott Bonner. Retrieved from https://www.fergusonvoices.org/voices/scott-bonner#more-info
closethelibraries.org. (2020). Letter to State Librarians. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WlSG2eyxJXUDI1sgvIPPgq4otAdWCQoKwCmVxhRA2Hk/edit?pli=1
Doremalen, N. van, Fauci, A. S., & Vaduganathan, M. (2020, March 17). Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1: NEJM. Retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
Ettarh, F. (2018). Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves. Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2018/vocational-awe/
It’s Okay to Not… [Digital Image]. 2020. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/vicky_ig/status/1243608158163042309/photo/1
Lankes, R. D. (2016). The new librarianship field guide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
LaPierre, S. (2020). Resisting “Vocational Awe” During the Pandemic. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2020/03/resisting-vocational-awe-during-the-pandemic/
Martin, N. (2020). Against Productivity in a Pandemic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/156929/work-home-productivity-coronavirus-pandemic
Moriarty LF, Plucinski MM, Marston BJ, et al. (2020) Public Health Responses to COVID-19 Outbreaks on Cruise Ships. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:347-352. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6912e3
Mourdoukoutas, P. (2018). Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/AmazonShouldReplaceLocalLibrariestoSaveTaxpayersMoney.pdf
Newman, B. (2020, March 27). Why Curbside Pick Up at Your Library Isn’t Safe. Retrieved from https://librarianbyday.net/2020/03/26/why-curbside-pick-up-at-your-library-isnt-safe/
Ross, N. (2020, April 6). Coronavirus: Flagler County library main branch resumes curbside services. Retrieved from https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-flagler-county-library-main-branch-resumes-curbside-services?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=ghf-daytona-main
Wilson, V. (2010). Public Libraries Can Play an Important Role in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster. A Review of: Welsh, T. S. & Higgins, S. E. (2009). Public libraries post-Hurricane Katrina: A pilot study. Library Review, 58(9), 652-659. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 3, 59.
Planning a Trip Using Library Resources
My second blog post for WBRL is live now!
My big trip to Japan is coming up swiftly, so in this post I share some ways that you can use FREE library resources and services when making travel plans. Books, of course, but also language-learning software, e-books, and all sorts of other cool stuff.
These resources and/or ones like them are available not only at my library, but many public libraries in Canada and the US. As such, I hope they are helpful for readers who would like to plan and prepare for their trips without digging into their wallets.
Chilling Expression: Knox County Public Library Uninvites Author From Festival
Julia Watts was chosen as a featured author for the upcoming LitUp Festival: Arts and Innovation for the Next Generation, an event sponsored by Knox County Public Library. It’s an event for teens with writing workshops, career information, author talks, and other activities. Watts has several published, celebrated works aimed at a teen audience, such as Finding H.F., and Quiver.
Watts, who has participated in Knox County Library programs in the past, was surprised and saddened when the library suddenly uninvited her from the event. The reason? According to the library’s assistant director for marketing Mary Pom Claiborne, the organizing committee discovered that “Some of her work is described as erotica and is inappropriate for teens”. (Knox News, 2019)
So again, Ms. Watts has several lauded YA titles, which was what made her an author choice for the festival, but the fact that she had written risqué material in the past prompted her removal from a library event.
While it wasn’t explicitly expressed in her dis-invitation, Watts questioned if LGBTQ+ themes in her work were a spark for the action taken against her:
They say if it were erotic content of any type that they would have had the same concerns. As somebody who has been uninvited because someone goes, ‘Yikes, that’s gay content,’ that was certainly my first thought.Julie Watts (WBIR, 2019)
The implication of this cancellation should send a chill down the spine of any writer. Those who write should not have to be boxed into one genre, age group, or format for fear that their body of work will impede their professional progress.
The library did not expect Watts to read from or reference the adult material, but it didn’t want to be perceived as promoting her entire body of work at a festival for young teens, Claiborne said.Kristi Nelson, Knox News, 2019
The fact that Watts has written erotica (which, she mentions to Knox News, is a subjective term) should not be an issue for the festival, because that wasn’t the focus of her attending the event- her YA books were the focus.
Some of my writings—not my work for YA readers—contain erotic content. Not just erotica, but lesbian erotica…kids might Google me and find out I’d written erotica, and that freaked [the committee] out. If they’d Googled me and found that I’d written Harlequin romances, I don’t think there would have been this same kind of pushback.Julie Watts (Publisher’s Weekly, 2019)
The committee effectively shunned this author after previously inviting her simply because a teen could hypothetically google her name and find out that she has written books for adults- books with S-E-X-, oh no!
Are libraries the newly appointed Decency Police Force? Does writing erotica make you suddenly unmentionable or a bad role model? No, and no! Libraries are supposed to be places where information flows freely and people are supported, not judged.
Honorably, Knoxville’s poet laureate, Marilyn Kallet, withdrew from the festival in solidarity with Watts.
As writers we need to stand up for one another, and to require being treated with dignity and trust.Marilyn Kallet (Knox News)
This decision by Knox County Library to cancel Watts’ invitation was a huge misstep. Libraries are not places of censorship, and those who write should not have to hide their works in the shadows or self-censor for fear of being outcast from public events and civil discourse in the library. Authors are multifaceted, complex people who wear many hats and should not be shamed for writing for a variety of audiences.
One thing I’ve learned from this: I shouldn’t take my freedom of expression for granted.Julia Watts (Publisher’s Weekly)
I hope that this mistake can be learned from so that it does not set a dangerous precedent. Ms. Watts has accepted an apology from the library, and perhaps the dialogue sparked by this occurrence will prompt other libraries to examine their own biases and reaffirm their commitments to intellectual freedom.
Kirch, C. (n.d.). Author Julia Watts Disinvited from Teen Lit Festival. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/81097-author-julia-watts-disinvited-from-teen-lit-festival.html
Nelson, K. L. (2019, September 5). Young adult author pulled from Knox library’s teen festival because she also writes ‘erotica’. Retrieved from https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/education/2019/09/04/julia-watts-author-pulled-knox-county-public-library-teen-festival-because-writes-erotica/2215193001/
WBIR Staff. (2019, September 6). Knoxville author uninvited from local teen reading festival for publishing ‘erotic content’ in the past. Retrieved from https://www.wbir.com/article/life/books/knoxville-author-uninvited-from-local-teen-reading-festival/51-cb005c4a-71d1-44e7-a74c-a624e1a2ab0f
Choosing Your Sources: A Basic Guide for Young Writers
I’m currently working on a series of informational guides to have available in the computer areas of our library. I just finished the basic skeleton of the first one, and I wanted to share it freely because I think it’s important information: choosing sources, examining bias, and fighting fake news!
I created this with teens in mind: it’s a very simple and pared-down guide that I hope will be approachable and engaging.
Feel free to download, print, and use for non-profit and educational purposes.
Bounce Back: 16 Books on Resilience
When I was freshly reeling from a painful and embarrassing failure, a respected mentor asked to meet up with me in a coffee shop. We chatted for a while and he asked me what I had learned from my struggle. I was so deep in shock and self-pity that I couldn’t think of anything positive to say. He told me I’ve learned that you’re resilient. I didn’t feel resilient at the time, but his words helped me to shift my perspective and inner story, and to work toward new goals.
These books compiled here are a variety of books on resilience, picking yourself up after failure, learning from mistakes, and owning your life as it is now. Some of these are titles I certainly could have used when I was going through that tough time- hopefully they will help someone somewhere who needs them.
(Descriptions provided from publishers, book-jackets, covers, etc. Kid-friendly books at the end.)
Stop Doing that Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back– Gary John Bishop
How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong-Elizabeth Day
You’re Going to Survive: True Stories From People Who’ve Endured Soul-Crushing Moments In Their Careers- Failure, Rejection, Disappointment, Public Humiliation- and How They Got Through It- and How You Will Too- Alexandra Franzen
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness– Rick Hanson
Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life after a Loss that Changes Everything– Lucy Hone
Supernormal: Childhood Adversity and the Amazing Untold Story of Resilience– Meg Jay
The Art of Failing: Notes From the Underdog– Anthony McGowan
It’s Great to Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What it Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff that Really Matters- Karen Rinaldi
Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held on to Hope, and Found Joy in my Darkest Hour– Amy Robach
The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong- Judith Rodin
The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses– Karen Salmansohn
Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across– Poems by Mary Lambert
Sometimes You Fly- Katherine Applegate & Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes– Shelly Becker & Eda Kaban
Famous fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!– Crispin Boyer
Bounce Back: How to Be a Resilient Kid– Wendy L. Moss
Manga in Libraries
I just finished this seminar for my LIS 518 course (which is all about comics, woohoo!)
It’s basically a Manga 101 sort of video with a few slides specifically pertaining to manga in libraries.
What to Read When You’re Convinced The World Is Going to Shit
If, like me, you’ve been feeling more than your share of political exhaustion, existential dread, climate-change anxiety, and general fear about the way the world seems to be headed, you may want to consider perusing the following book suggestions.
These books won’t let us turn back time and prevent the election of ignorant egomaniacs. They probably also won’t help us when our coastlines become submerged, and they won’t protect us from artificially intelligent dictators or wildfires or aliens, but hey — at least they’ll make us feel better in the meantime.
Okay, maybe i’m feeling cynical, leaning nihilistic, but I really don’t think that I’m alone in my exasperation. These books aim to inspire hope, which I imagine most of us could use a bit more of these days.
And so, I present:
What to Read
When You’re Convinced
Is Going to Shit.
(Quotes used are taken from product descriptions/book jackets of each title)
It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons For Optimism In an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook (2018)
Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It’s Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we’re headed, and what we’re capable of.
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (2019)
The societies we are part of are increasingly making our minds ill. It very often feels that the way we live is almost engineered to make us unhappy. Whether it is our attitudes toward sleep, the marketing messages that inundate us daily, the constant and hysterical news cycle, social media or even the way we educate our children, we are programming ourselves to put our bodies and minds at odds and setting ourselves up with expectations for our lives that prevent our happiness.
When Matt became ill with panic disorder, anxiety and depression, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (2018)
21 Lessons For the 21st Century provides a kind of instruction manual for the present day to help readers find their way around the 21st century, to understand it, and to focus on the really important questions of life. Once again, Harari presents this in the distinctive, informal, and entertaining style that already characterized his previous books. The topics Harari examines in this way include major challenges such as international terrorism, fake news, and migration, as well as turning to more personal, individual concerns, such as our time for leisure or how much pressure and stress we can take. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century answers the overarching question: What is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events, and how can we individually steer our way through them?
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)
Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (2018)
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World- And Why Things Are Better Than You Think – by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund (2018)
It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.
Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.
Poems for a World Gone To Sh*t: The Amazing Power of Poetry To Make Even The Most F**ked Up Times Feel Better featuring poems by various poets (2019)
Funny, reflective, romantic and life-affirming – here is an anthology of poems to remind you to keep on looking at the stars: from that first ‘what the f*ck’ moment to empowering you to do something about this sh*t and ultimately realising that life is still beautiful after all.
International Women’s Day 2019: 101 Books To Check Out!
BOOK-LIST TIME! This time for International Women’s Day!
I’ve kept track of 101 books that have been released recently (approximately within this past year) featuring intersectional feminist writings, women’s stories and histories, and empowering reads from diverse voices.
The quoted descriptions I’ve used are from the book jackets and/or their promo materials.
Scroll down for biographies, non-fiction, graphic novels, YA titles, and books for younger readers, too!
Happy, inspired reading!
Minority Leader: How to Build your Future and Make real Change– Stacey Abrams
A personal and empowering blueprint—from one of America’s rising Democratic stars—for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower- Brittney Cooper
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Everyday I’m Hustling– Vivica A. Fox
Every Day I’m Hustling is a personal book with a message Fox passionately believes in: that you make your own luck, that you never ever wake up in the morning thinking somebody’s going to call you and offer you that part or ask you out on that date that’s going to change your life, that you have to wake up and put on your longest eyelashes and fiercest heels and go out and make your life happen yourself.
The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography– Deborah Levy
To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman.
Tomorrow will be different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality– Sarah McBride
Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender.
Becoming– Michelle Obama
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead– My Life Story– Cecile Richards
From Cecile Richards—president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade, daughter of the late Governor Ann Richards, featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington, and a “heroine of the resistance” (Vogue)—comes a story about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.
I’m Afraid of Men– Vivek Shraya
With raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate.
She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy– Jill Soloway
With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.
New girl: a Trans Girl Tells it Like It Is– Rhyannon Styles
Elle columnist Rhyannon Styles tells her unforgettable life story in THE NEW GIRL, reflecting on her past and charting her incredible journey from male to female. A raw, frank and utterly moving celebration of life.
Roar: Thirty Women. Thirty Stories. – Cecelia Ahern
From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave
Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet– Claire L. Evans
Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward – Gemma Hartley
From Gemma Hartley, the journalist who ignited a national conversation on emotional labor, comes Fed Up, a bold dive into the unpaid, invisible work women have shouldered for too long—and an impassioned vision for creating a better future for us all.
The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success– Kate White
Bestselling author, professional speaker, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Kate White shares the nine core principles gutsy women need to go bigger, bolder, and achieve the full level of success they desire.
Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World– Jennifer Palmieri
Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this #1 New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Keep Marching: How Every Woman Can Take Action and Change Our World by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
Keep Marching calls on all badass women for justice to come together and rise.
Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age– Mary Pipher
The instant bestseller from the author of Reviving Ophelia–a guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.
Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls– Elizabeth Renzetti
Drawing upon Renzetti’s decades of reporting on feminist issues, Shrewed is a book about feminism’s crossroads.
She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It – Hannah Jewell
Meet the bold women history has tried to forget until now!
Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World– Andrea Barnet
With a keen eye for historical detail, Andrea Barnet traces the arc of each woman’s career and explores how their work collectively changed the course of history.
Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries by Paulina Cameron
Ambition, diversity, strength: few groups better represent the potential of Canada than women. Canada 150 Women profiles 150 of the country’s most inspiring, groundbreaking and powerful female role models, providing insight into their achievements—and a challenge for all to better support women.
Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower– Roseann Lake
Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Roseann Lake’s Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession – Alice Bolin
Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them – Scarlett Curtis
Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism.
#MeToo: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Assault– The New York Times Editorial
It started with an article and grew into a movement… This collection of articles tracks the movement from its start. It looks at the international response and inevitable criticism, as well as the future of the movement.
The Little Book of Feminist Saints– Julia Pierpont & Manjit Thapp
In this luminous volume, New York Times bestselling writer Julia Pierpont and artist Manjit Thapp match short, vibrant, and surprising biographies with stunning full-color portraits of secular female “saints”: champions of strength and progress.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger– Rebecca Traister
Highlighting a double standard perpetuated against women by all sexes, and its disastrous, stultifying effect, Traister’s latest is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history.
Can we all be feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism– June Eric-Udorie (Editor)
A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all.
Unladylike: a Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space– Cristen Conger & Caroline Ervin
A funny, fact-driven, and illustrated field guide to how to live a feminist life in today’s world, from the hosts of the hit Unladylike podcast.
Fight like a Girl: An Inspiring, Unapologetic, Feminist Manifesto– Clementine Ford
Through a mixture of memoir, opinion and investigative journalism, Clementine Ford exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women
Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America- Amy Reed (Editor)
This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity.
Can Your Conversations Change the World? – Erinne Paisley
Can Your Conversations Change the World? provides insight into the origins and history of feminism, how it plays out on the global stage and what it means to be a young feminist and activist today.
History vs Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know– Anita Sarkeesian & Ebony Adams
Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.
The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution– Michael Kaufman
Weaving together sociological data, personal experiences, and insights gleaned from decades of work with governments and NGOs around the globe, Kaufman explores topics ranging from domestic violence to parental leave, grappling with the ways in which a culture of toxic masculinity hurts women and men (and their children). Informative and provocative, The Time Has Come demonstrates how real gender equality creates advancements in both the workplace and the global economy, and urges men to become dedicated allies in dismantling the patriarchy.
A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland- DaMaris Hill
A revelatory work in the tradition of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, DaMaris Hill’s searing and powerful narrative-in-verse bears witness to American women of color burdened by incarceration.
Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words– Kimberly Harrington
Welcome to essayist Kimberly Harrington’s poetic and funny world of motherhood, womanhood, and humanhood, not necessarily in that order.
Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History– Blair Imani
An inspiring and radical celebration of 70 women, girls, and gender nonbinary people who have changed–and are still changing–the world, from the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall riots through Black Lives Matter and beyond.
Read & Riot: a Pussy Riot Guide to Activism– Nadya Tolokonnikova
From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance
Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement– Janet Dewart Bell
A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the 20th-century fight for civil rights – many nearly lost to history
Equality for Women= Prosperity for All: The Disastrous Global Crisis of Gender Inequality- Augusto Lopez-Claros & Bahiyyih Nakhjavani
A groundbreaking book about the direct relationship between a woman’s rights and freedoms and the economic prosperity of her country.
A Girl Stands at the Door: the Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools– Rachel Devlin
These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.
Count Girls In: Empowering Girls to Combine Any Interests with STEM to Open Up a World of Opportunity– Karen Panetta & Katianne Williams
Count Girls In encourages parents and other adults to raise authentic young women who have the confidence to put STEM to work in a way that best serves them and their passions. The authors, both STEM professionals, present compelling research in a conversational, accessible style and provide specific advice and takeaways for each stage of schooling, from elementary school through college, followed by comprehensive STEM resources. This isn’t a book about raising competitive, test-acing girls in lab coats; this is about raising happy, confident girls who realize the world of opportunities before them.
Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)– Mara Altman
Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.
Period Power: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement– Nadya Okamoto & Rebecca Elfast
Period Power aims to explain what menstruation is, shed light on the stigmas and resulting biases, and create a strategy to end the silence and prompt conversation about periods.
You Have the Right to Remain Fat– Virgie Tovar
In concise and candid language, [Tovar] delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.
Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space– Libby Jackson
Filled with beautiful full-color illustrations, a groundbreaking compendium honoring the amazing true stories of fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today
Free the Tipple: Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women– Jennifer Croll & Kelly Shami
Sixty of the world’s coolest and most influential women are the inspiration for this refreshing and fun collection of drink recipes that are sure to bring extra zest to your cocktail shaker.
Know your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth– Mika Brzezinski
The bestselling motivational guide that TheAtlantic.comcalls “a rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve.”
The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate– Fran Hauser
THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.
Ninth Street Women– Mary Gabriel
Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists.
She Begat This: 20 Years of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill– Joan Morgan
Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy.
Beyonce in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism– Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley
Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.
Women who rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.– Evelyn McDonnell
A stellar and unprecedented celebration of 104 musical artists, WOMEN WHO ROCK is the most complete, up-to-date history of the evolution, influence, and importance of women in music. A gorgeous gift book, it includes a stunning, specially commissioned, full-color illustrated portrait of every musician and group.
Stealing the Show: How Women are Revolutionizing Television– Joy Press
Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades and the iconic shows that redefined the television landscape.
Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay– Pheobe Robinson
Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work… With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count.
Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History’s Mightiest Matriarchs– Jason Porath
The author of Rejected Princesses returns with an inspiring, fully illustrated guide that brings together the fiercest mothers in history—real life matriarchs who gave everything to protect all they loved.
When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt– Kara Cooney
This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra–women who ruled with real power–and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.
Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan– Eileen Rivers
A riveting account of three women who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with men and worked with local women to restore their lives and push back the Taliban
Bringing Down the Colonel : a Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took On Washington– Patricia Miller
In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man—and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality—to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.
Women Warriors: An Unexpected History– Pamela D. Toler
Who says women don’t go to war? From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, these are the stories of women for whom battle was not a metaphor.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World– Penelope Bagieu
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.
Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn– Ryan Heshka
The Mean Girls are out for blood in this timely revenge fantasy that speaks to our deepest desires for awful, corrupt men to get what’s coming to ‘em! Filled with mayhem, misandry, and more danger than you can shake a stiletto at, get ready for a chaotic, bloody ride.
Girl Town– Carolyn Nowak
Girl Town collects the Ignatz Award-winning stories “Radishes” and “Diana’s Electric Tongue” together with several other tales of young adulthood and the search for connection.
Young Adult Fiction
The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls– Jessica Spotswood (Editor)
In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.
Junior Graphic Novel
Geeky F@B 5 Vol 1: It’s Not Rocket Science– Lucy & Liz Lareau &Ryan Jampole
Join Lucy, the gang, Hubble the snarky kitty, and their TV reporter buddy, Suzy Pundergast, to find out if they can prove the meanies wrong because when girls stick together, anything is possible!
Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships that Changed History– Sam Maggs & Jenn Woodall
A fun and feisty tour of famous girl BFFs from history who stuck together and changed the world.
Girls resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution– KaeLyn Rich & Giulia Sagramola
An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.
Black Women who Dared– Naomi M. Moyer
Inspirational stories of ten Black women and women’s collectives from Canadian and American history. Included are leaders and groundbreakers who were anti-slavery activists, business women, health-care activists, civic organizers and educators
We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World– Malala Yousafzai
In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.
Rebel Voices: the Global Fight for Women’s Equality and the Right to Vote- Louise Kay Stewart & Peter Knorr
A timely, beautiful and bold compendium of women around the world who said “time’s up” on inequality. Rule Breakers. Risk Takers. Rebel Women. Law Makers. This book is a celebration of women standing up, speaking out, and sticking together to battle inequality and win the vote.
Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World– Sam Maggs, Ruth Amos & Emma Grange
More than 50 incredible female Super Heroes from the Marvel Comics universe inspire girls and women of all ages to be powerful, passionate, and persistent.
Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports– Gregory Zuckerman, Elijah Zuckerman & Gabriel Zuckerman
The inspirational real-life stories of superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more!
She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History– Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger
Perfect for tiny activists, mini feminists and little kids who are ready to take on the world.
Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots In WWII– Sally Deng
Follow the adventures of these young female pioneers as they battle not only enemies in the skies but sexism and inequality in their own teams, and encounter legends like Jackie “Speed Queen” Cochran. Risking their lives countless times in feats of incredible bravery, the Women Airforce Service Pilots–WASPs–of the Second World War are honored in this beautiful story based on actual events, illustrated in Sally Deng’s raw, dynamic style.
25 Women Who Dared to Go-Allison Lassieur
From the fearless to the feared, discover 25 women who dared.
25 Women Who Fought Back– Jill Sherman
Discover 25 women who challenged the status quo and fought for what they believed in.
25 Women Who Thought of it First– Jill Sherman
Discover 25 women who were trailblazers in science, technology, architecture, engineering and more.
25 Women Who Ruled– Rebecca Stanborough
Discover 25 women who shattered the glass ceiling, each in their own way. In politics, government, the business world and more, these women show us that ambition, perserverance and hard work go a long way.
Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist– Sylvia Acevedo
The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Rosa’s Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie– Maryann MacDonald
Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eugénie, and befriended “Buffalo Bill” Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal’s anatomy and wearing men’s clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time.
Out of this World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington– Michelle Markel & Amanda Hall
A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.
Meet Viola Desmond– Elizabeth MacLeod & Mike Deas
Meet Viola Desmond, community leader and early civil rights trailblazer!
No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg– Kathleen Krull & Nancy Zhang
From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science– Joyce Sidman
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?
One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
Proud: Living my American Dream– Ibtihaj Muhammad
The inspiring and critically acclaimed all-American story of faith, family, hard work, and perseverance by Olympic fencer, activist, and Time “100 Most Influential People” honoree Ibtihaj Muhammad
She Created a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein– Lynn Fulton & Felicita Sala
On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.
Gloria’s Voice: The Story of Gloria Steinem– Feminist, Activist, Leader– Aura Lewis
Gloria Steinem started a movement that changed our world. This picture-book biography of the pioneering feminist brings the message of equality to a new generation.
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams– Lesa Cline-Ransome & James E. Ransome
This lovingly crafted picture book biography centers on the incredible bond between Venus and Serena Williams…
Junior Picture Book
The Truly Brave Princesses– Dolores Brown & Sonja Wimmer
Princess Nin is a firefighter, Princess Gilda is a supermarket cashier, Princess Agnes is retired, and Princess Liang is in a wheel chair. This gallery of princesses gives visibility to lot of women who do not fit with the traditional conception of a princess. Maybe it’s time to realize that each and every one of us could be a princess.
I Am Enough– Grace Byers & Keturah A. Bobo
This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes– Eva Chen & Derek Desierto
…A story that’s equal parts fashion fairy-tale and guide to girl power…
My Wish for You– Kathryn Hahn & Brigette Barrager
A poignant, fierce reflection on the power and spirit of girls and girls-at-heart from celebrated actress Kathryn Hahn and New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager.
Girls Can Do Anything– Caryl Hart & Ali Pye
One size definitely does not fit all in this book: charming depictions of girls being scruffy or fancy, neat or messy, and everything in between are explored and celebrated, because each girl is unique and unlike all others.
The Absolutely, Positively No Princesses Book– Ian Lendler & Deborah Zemke
Some kids like frills and sparkles and bows and lots of pink. And some don’t. The girl who started “The Absolutely, Positively No Princess Book” is sure that she wants a story full of nature and adventure. But when a princess barges into the pages with her own opinions about what makes for a good story, the two learn that they each have something to offer. Together they make the best story of all.
Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power– Vita Murrow & Julia Bereciartu
Focused on issues including self-image, confidence, LGBTQ, friendship, advocacy, and disability, these stories are perfect for sharing between parents and children, or for older princesses or princes to read by themselves. They teach that a princess is a person who seeks to help others, is open to learning new things, and looks for ways to add purpose to their lives and the lives of those around them.
Mary Wears What She Wants– Keith Negley
From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.
Dress Like a Girl– Patricia Toht & Lorian Tu-Dean
Uplifting and resonant, and with a variety of interests ranging from sports to science to politics, this book is sure to inspire any young girl, instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!
Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice– Loryn Brantz
Feminist Baby is learning to talkShe says what she thinks and it totally rocks!Feminist Babies stand up tall“Equal rights and toys for all!”
Be a Star, Wonder Woman!– Michael Dahl & Omar Lozano
In this board book, young girl braves a challenge-filled day just like her hero, Wonder Woman!
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book 1– Andrea Beaty & David Roberts
You loved the bestselling picture books starring Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Iggy Peck. Now you can follow The Questioneers’ further adventures in brand-new chapter books! The first installment, Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters, is a spirited story about the power of teamwork and the true meaning of home.
Ellie, Engineer– Jackson Pearce
Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
Black History Month (and Every Month!): New Titles From 2018
This past year I’ve been keeping track of some awesome new releases that feature POC stories, reflections, expressions, and histories. February is Black History Month, but these books are awesome reads year round! 🙂
Here are some fresh reads to check out, including fiction and non-fiction for readers young and old
(Note: I haven’t read every one of these myself yet- descriptions used were taken from the book jackets.)
Young Adult to Adult Readers
We are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden
“Carol Anderson’s White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience. ”
We Can’t Breathe by Jabari Asim
“In We Can’t Breathe, Jabari Asim disrupts what Toni Morrison has exposed as the “Master Narrative” and replaces it with a story of black survival and persistence through art and community in the face of centuries of racism. ”
Lighting the Fires of Freedom by Janet Dewart Bell
“A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that plumbs the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights—many nearly lost to history—from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize.”
Black Girls Rock! Owning our Magic, Rocking our Truth, edited by Beverly Bond
“From the award-winning entrepreneur, culture leader, and creator of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement comes an inspiring and beautifully designed book that pays tribute to the achievements and contributions of black women around the world.”
The Heritage by Howard Bryant
“The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports’ best-known stars—including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber—as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.”
Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter
“Moving, haunting, and as fast-paced as a novel, Invisible tells the true story of a woman who often found her path blocked by the social and political expectations of her time. But Eunice Carter never accepted defeat, and thanks to her grandson’s remarkable book, her long forgotten story is once again visible.”
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
“So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.”
A Girl Stands at the Door by Rachel Delvin
“In the grassroots struggle to desegregate American schools, girls were the vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents filed lawsuits with their daughters, forcing civil rights lawyers to take the issue to the Supreme Court. After Brown v. Board of Education, girls far outnumbered boys as volunteers. These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.”
Well-Read Black Girl (Anthology) by Glory Edim
“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.”
A Perilous Path by Sherrilyn Ifill et al.
“This blisteringly candid discussion of the American dilemma in the age of Trump brings together the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and death penalty lawyer, and a star professor for an honest conversation the country desperately needs to hear.”
How Long Till Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemsin
“In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.”
Becoming by Michelle Obama
“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.”
We Matter: Athletes and Activism by Etan Thomas
“In We Matter, Thomas strives to show the influence professional athletes can have when they join the conversation on race, politics, and civil rights. ”
The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave’s Journey from Bondage to Freedom by David F. Walker et al.
“A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker, and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American.”
Black Fortunes by Shomari Wills
“By telling the little-known stories of six pioneering African American entrepreneurs, Black Fortunes makes a worthy contribution to black history, to business history, and to American history.”—Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times Bestselling author of Hidden Figures
Let it Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey Into Guns by RJ Young
“Let It Bang is an utterly original look at American gun culture from the inside, and from the other side—and, most movingly, the story of a young black man’s hard-won nonviolent path to self-protection.”
Junior Readers and Up
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome
“With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.”
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan and R. Gregory Christie
“This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.”
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
“Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a a picture book that invites white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it’s real, and cultivate justice.”
Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and John Holyfield
“Born into slavery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, William “Bill” Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family. Winner of Lee & Low?s New Voices Award, Hammering for Freedom tells the true story of one man?s skill, hard work, and resolve to keep his family together.”
Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham et al.
“How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to.
Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.”
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 Artists
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina offers a fresh perspective of young men of color by depicting thirteen views of everyday life.”
Don’t Touch my Hair by Sharee Miller
“An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.”
Black Women Who Dared by Naomi M. Moyer
“Beautiful, colorful illustrations tell the inspirational stories of ten black women and women’s collectives from 1793 to the present.”
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders and Jared Andrew Schorr
“Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable.”
Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
“Betty Before X is a powerful middle-grade fictionalized account of the childhood activism of Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s wife, written by their daughter Ilyasah Shabazz.”
Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins
“Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers.”
Did I miss any great titles that came out in 2018? Please let me know and I will add them to the list!