Take a Stand | Social Justice Series Nonfiction

Not only will readers learn about Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate, systemic racism, and inequality, they will be better prepared to fight for a better future.


Students want to know more about ­injustices in history and in the news. These titles fill the void left by many textbooks. Not only will readers learn about Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate, systemic racism, and inequality, they will be better prepared to fight for a better future.



Upper Elementary to Middle School

Baker Jr., Leonard S. & Jason M. Burns. Breaking Down Walls. ISBN 9781629209500.
––––. On the March. ISBN 9781629209524.
––––. Take a Stand. ISBN 9781629209494.
––––. To the Polls. ISBN 9781629209517.
ea vol: illus. by Dustin Evans. 32p. (Time for Change). Full Tilt. Aug. 2022. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 4-6 –Bright, cartoon illustrations belie the seriousness of this graphic nonfiction series. In the year 2100 Mr. Rustin takes his students to important moments in civil rights history. They visit John Lewis’s march across the ­Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests of 2020, and the March on Washington. The author frequently stresses that no one victory led to equal rights for all or an end to racism. The importance of understanding history is also a frequent topic. Each book includes a ­research activity, glossary, and index. VERDICT This series does so much more than just relay information on civil rights, it also captures the humanity of the movement and those involved. Highly recommended.

Butler-Ngugi, Anitra E. Sidney Poitier. ISBN 9781637392683.
Clinch, Shasta. Amanda Gorman. ISBN 9781637392645.
––––. Jordan Peele. ISBN 9781637392676.
––––. Toni Morrison. ISBN 9781637392669.
Murray, Tamika M. Aretha Franklin. ISBN 9781637392638.
Powell, Chyina. Duke Ellington. ISBN 9781637392621.
––––. Langston Hughes. ISBN 9781637392652.
––––. Nina Simone. ISBN 9781637392690.
ea vol: 32p. (Black Voices on Race). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Aug. 2022. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-6 –This series showcases Black celebrities and how they used their fame to draw attention to issues surrounding race in America. The books recount the careers of 20th century icons like Nina Simone, Duke ­Ellington, and Sidney Poitier along with present day stars like Jordan Peele and Amanda Gorman. Each biography describes how racism impacted their careers and how they overcame it. The text includes bolded vocabulary words, a timeline of artistic works, and plenty of photos. Backmatter includes a glossary, open ended and multiple choice questions, an index, and further reading. VERDICT A good choice for libraries looking to update or diversify their art biographies.

Knutson, Julie. Do the Work! Affordable and Clean Energy. ISBN 9781668909232.
––––. Do the Work! Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life On Land. ISBN 9781668909270.
––––. Do the Work! Decent Work and Economic Growth Meets Industry, Innovation, and I frastructure. ISBN 9781668909249.
––––. Do the Work! Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions Meets Partnerships for the Goals. ISBN 9781668909287.
––––. Do the Work! Reduced Inequalities. ISBN 9781668909256.
––––. Do the Work! Sustainable Cities and Communities Meets Responsible Consumption and Production. ISBN 9781668909263.
ea vol: 32p. (Committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2022. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 4-7 –This series breaks the goals into small groups to examine their purpose and propose ways individuals can help. Each book explains what the SDGs are, why they are important, and the general necessity of goal setting. The succeeding chapters are divided into different approaches for helping advance the goals at home, in school, and in their communities. Text boxes highlight current projects that are part of the UN’s goals. Glossary, index, further learning, and an activity are included. VERDICT Recommended for school libraries.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Angel Island Immigration Station. ISBN 9781668909294.
––––. Colonization of Hawai’i. ISBN 9781668909317.
––––. Excellence in STEM. ISBN 9781668909331.
––––. Excellence in the Arts. ISBN 9781668909348.
––––. Japanese American Incarceration. ISBN 9781668909300.
––––. Political Power. ISBN 9781668909362.
––––. Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. ISBN 9781668909324.
––––. Vibrant Neighborhoods. ISBN 9781668909355.
ea vol: 32p. (Racial Justice in America: AAPI Excellence and Achievement). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2022. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 4-6 –With the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans in recent years, now is a good time to teach children about the history of discrimation against Asian Americans and how they can help address it today. Students will learn about Angel Island, Japanese internment, the colonization of Hawaii, and refugee resettlement. Many of these issues will be completely new to readers. The books begin with an overview before diving into a more detailed history of the subject. Topics covered include the loss of widespread use of Hawaiian language due to colonization, the restrictions put on Chinese immigrants, and paper sons. Sections titled “Think About It” ask students to reflect on inequalities or ask them to place themselves in another’s shoes to build empathy. The series sheds light on little-known atrocities like the Chinese Massacre of 1871 and traces anti-AAPI hate to the current physical attacks and use of ‘Kung Flu’ and ‘China Virus.’ The books finish with suggested activities to demonstrate knowledge of injustice and ways kids can be allies. VERDICT An extremely important topic that receives little attention. Recommended for classrooms and libraries.


Upper Middle School to High School

Allen, John. Thinking Critically: Police and the Use of Force. ISBN 9781678203207.
Currie, Stephen. Thinking Critically: Mass Shootings (New Edition). ISBN 9781678203184.
Hulick, Kathryn. Thinking Critically: The COVID-19 Pandemic. ISBN 9781678203160.
Karson, Olivia. Thinking Critically: The Black Lives Matter Movement. ISBN 9781678203146.
Mooney, Carla. Thinking Critically: Addiction. ISBN 9781678203122.
ea vol: 64p. (Thinking Critically). ReferencePoint. Sept. 2022. Tr. $32.95.
Gr 7 Up –This series provides well-reasoned arguments for and against hot topics in America today. Each title begins with a detailed table of contents that will direct readers to their section of choice. The chapters provide an overview of the discussion followed by the arguments. Students are given questions to consider while reading both sides of the debate. The arguments are nuanced. For example, rather than arguing for or against Black Lives Matter, the chapters examine the success of the organization. The book on police brutality debates the effects of qualified immunity and body cameras not whether shootings are justified. Back matter includes source notes, a fact list divided into topics, websites and organizations, an index, and resources for further research. VERDICT A well-planned and executed pro-con series that will help researchers find the information they need. Recommended.

Amson-Bradshaw, Georgia. Waste and Pollution. ISBN 9781725339088.
Harman, Alice. Animal Cruelty. ISBN 9781725338982.
––––. Poverty and Hunger. ISBN 9781725339019.
Howell, Izzi. Prejudice. ISBN 9781725339040.
ea vol: 48p. (Stand Against). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2022. Tr. $31.25.
Gr 5-9 –Young activists looking for a cause will find plenty of useful information and helpful tips in this series. Each title examines an issue by breaking it down into easily understandable subjects. For example, everyone will say they are against animal cruelty and it would be hard to organize against it as a general topic. Instead the book explores farming practices, animals in entertainment, and selective breeding. Readers are then given tips to fight against industrial farming or pet abuse. Readers are also asked to form their own opinions on the subjects. Beyond teaching about food insecurity or water pollution, this series shows kids how to be smart consumers who know how to question labels and promote positive change. A glossary, list of books and websites for further reading, and index are included. VERDICT Highly recommended.

Boone, Mary. Immigrant and Refugee Injustice. ISBN 9781678203962.
––––. Racial Injustice. ISBN 9781678204006.
Gagne, Tammy. Injustice Against Women. ISBN 9781678203986.
Terp, Gail. Climate and Environmental Injustice. ISBN 9781678203948.
ea vol: 64p. (Exploring Social Injustice). ReferencePoint/BrightPoint. Sept. 2022. Tr. $32.95.
Gr 7-10 –This series dives into hard to read histories of injustice globally but with a focus on the US. Students will learn about the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Rights Amendments, the Indian Removal Act, and the internment of Japanese Americans. Each title follows through to the present day but in some cases, such as Roe v. Wade, is already out of date. The final chapter in each book provides ways to help stop injustice. The books begin with a section called ‘At A Glance’ which provides a quick overview of the topics to be discussed and introduces important definitions. Other vocabulary words are bolded on the pages. Back matter includes source notes, further reading, and an index. VERDICT A good introduction to painful moments in time that were often ignored by textbooks.

After reading these series, children will have a better understanding of today’s social climate and how we got here. They will know about the challenges ­Asian-Americans have faced, the long fight for voting rights, and women’s equality. More importantly, they will see what is being done globally with “Committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals” (Cherry Lake), and how they can contribute by reading “Time For Change” (Full Tilt).

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