November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Understanding Ferguson: Resources on Protest, Nonviolent Resistance, and Civil Rights

NeverBeenA St. Louis bookstore, LeftBankBooks, is devising a reading list for educators and parents, with titles including Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement (Walker & Company, 2008), Boy, Snow, Bird (Riverhead, 2014), and Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (New Press, 2013), to offer to educators, parents, and to youths to understand—and discuss—what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri. The  violence, racial dynamics, and conflict has history and precedence and lends itself to talking about race, protests, figures influential in both, and the civil rights movement. The store is also “curating a list of articles, poems, and other online content to explore race in contemporary America,” according to its website. LeftBankBooks has asked if you have recommendations to add to either list, tweet it to them using the hashtag #FergusonReads. (See below.)

SLJ blogger Mark Flowers recently reviewed two books about black youth in America on his blog Adult Books 4 Teens, and we here at School Library Journal have begun to curate our own booklist and media resource of recommended titles for upper middle school and high school—and younger ages. If you have a title that you think belongs on this growing list, leave us a comment.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Race (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007) by Marc Aronson

The Influencing Machine (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012) by Brooke Gladstone

A Dream of Freedom (Scholastic, 2004) by Diane McWhorter

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World (Dutton, 2006) by Jane Breskin Zalben

Black & White: The Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor (Calkins Creek, 2011) by Larry Dame Brimner

After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance (Charlesbridge, 2009) by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Respecting our differences (Free Spirit, 1994) by Lynn Duvall

Multimedia for upper middle school and high school:

PBS Frontline documentary “L. A. P. D. Blues“; accompanying online PBS resource: “The Legacy of Rodney King

Article “The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921

NPR audio clip “Teaching the L. A. Riots at Two City Schools

Books for younger kids:

Under Our Skin: Kids talk about race (Holiday House, 1997) by Debbie H. Birdseye; age 10 and up

Let’s Talk about Race (Amistad, 2008) by Julius Lester; ages 4 – 8



  1. During this bleak moment, thanks for this list to inspire class discussion & possibly even change. May I add my What Was the March on Washington? (Grosset, 2013) – a March still relevant 50 years later.

  2. Janet Wong says:

    Please remember poetry–perhaps WHEN THUNDER COMES: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis?