My Top 20 Books of 2020 | Read Woke

It's been a long year. And a great one for books.

So much has happened in 2020, from COVID-19 turning our worlds upside down to the passing of the greats, including Chadwick Boseman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery provided the catalyst for people to scream “Black Lives Matter” and protest in the streets, in classrooms, on tennis and basketball courts, on social media, and elsewhere. Many will be happy to see 2020 go.

However, one thing is certain: 2020 was a great year for books. Though there is still a lack of diversity in publishing, we saw significant advancements, with Black authors topping the best seller lists. People everywhere flocked to indie bookstores to help support these small business owners. Black-owned bookstores saw a groundswell of support during and following the protests for racial justice. Juvenile book sales rose 80 percent in March and April while people were sheltering at home, according to NPD Group’s market research, reaffirming my belief that books provide comfort and will never be irrelevant. People reconnected with their families, accepting that we are all in this together. We saw educators praised, while parents had to assist their children with virtual learning at home. But when educators tried to speak up for their lives, they were met with criticism and vitriol.

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In the midst of all of this, I became the 2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year and my success was bittersweet. It was a dream come true to be on the cover of SLJ and receive this prestigious award, but I wasn’t able to attend all of the events afforded the prior winners. But through technology, I was able to participate in interviews with John Schu, Alicia Williams, and other amazing educators across the world. I still felt guilty celebrating when people were suffering and dying from COVID-19.

Reading sustained me throughout the year. Here are my top 20 #ReadWoke titles of the year, including a few I read in 2020 that published in 2019.



Cicely Lewis (Twitter: @cicelythegreat) welcomes suggestions.

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