Race & Justice Resources

The Chatham Area Public Library believes that public libraries, as trusted institutions grounded in values including but not limited to democracy, social responsibility, and the public good, play an important role in acknowledging and addressing systemic racism and the advancement of social equity. We recognize that, as the Illinois Library Association points out, a “statement without action is empty” and that our work must be ongoing. As part of this journey, our Board of Trustees at the January 18, 2021 meeting, approved our signing onto the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Social Equity whose bullet points will act as guideposts for decisions as we move forward. 

The work toward racial justice and the advancement of equity for all can start with a book, an article, a film, or an idea. We have curated the following list of resources available to you through our catalog and beyond as your exploration and action around race, justice, and equity progresses.


Adult Books

El Norte: the epic and forgotten story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson El Norte: the epic and forgotten story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson 

A sweeping saga of the Spanish history and influence in North America over five centuries.

Hoopla -- E-Book

Tan background with Earth Keeper : Reflections on the American Land Earth keeper: reflections on the American land by N. Scott Momaday 

A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet celebrates the oral tradition of his Native American culture as he recalls the stories of his childhood, passed down for generations, and their profound and sacred connection to the natural world.

Library on the Go -- E-Book | E-Audiobook 
cloudLibrary -- E-Book 
Hoopla -- E-Audiobook

Bright Blue background with line drawing of a house with a black woman in the window.  The title "the Kindest Lie" in white text overlayed on top of the house.  The kindest lie: a novel by Nancy Johnson 

Needing to reconnect with the baby she gave up for adoption years earlier, an Ivy League-educated Black engineer uncovers devastating family secrets before her bond with a young white misfit scandalizes her racially torn community.

Library on the Go -- E-Book 
cloudLibrary -- E-Book | E-Audiobook

The background is an image of the St. Louis Arch during construction with the text overlayed " The broken heart of America: St Louis and the violent history of the United States by Walter Johnson "The broken heart of America: St Louis and the violent history of the United States by Walter Johnson 

A searing portrait of the racial dynamics that lie inescapably at the heart of our nation, told through the turbulent history of the city of St. Louis.

cloudLibrary -- E-Book

The text Footnotes in the middle of a red banner in the center of the book.  Jazz band above the banner and black citizens along an urban streetFootnotes: the Black artists who rewrote the Great White Way by Casseen Gaines 

Footnotes is the story of how Sissle and Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, overcame poverty, racism, and violence to harness the energy of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a runaway Broadway hit that launched the careers of many of the twentieth century's most beloved Black performers.

Library on the Go -- E-Book

Sure, I’ll be your Black Friend: notes from the other side of the fistbump by Ben Phillipe 

In the biting, hilarious vein of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life comes Ben Philippe's candid memoir-in-essays, chronicling a lifetime of being the Black friend in predominantly white spaces. From cheating his way out of swim tests to discovering stray family members in unlikely places, he finds the punchline in the serious while acknowledging the blunt truths of existing as a Black man in today's world.

Library on the Go -- E-Book
cloudLibrary -- E-Book

Dear America: notes of an undocumented citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas 

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker and immigration-rights activist presents a memoir about how he unknowingly entered the United States with false documents as a child.

Library on the Go -- E-Book | E-Audiobook 

Hoopla -- E-Book E-Audiobook

The Kite Runner by Klahed Hosseini

Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.

Library on the Go -- E-Book | E-Audiobook
-- E- Book | E-Audiobook

54815903Central America’s forgotten history: revolution, violence, and the roots of Migration by Aviva Chomsky 

Places Central American migration to the United States in the context of the region's history of conquest, colonialism, revolution, and neoliberalism, looking especially at the revolutionary experiments of the 1980s and their aftermath.

Library on the Go -- E-Book | E-Audiobook

Abstract painting of a crowd of African Americans in a line with the text Four Hundred Souls: a community history of African America, 1619-2019Four hundred souls: a community history of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N Blain 

2019 marked the four hundredth anniversary of the first African presence in the Americas - and also launched the Four Hundred Souls project, spearheaded by Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracism Institute of American University, and Keisha Blain, editor of The North Star. They've gathered together eighty black writers from all disciplines - historians and artists, journalists and novelists - each of whom has contributed an entry about one five-year period to create a dynamic multivoiced single-volume history of black people in America.

Library on the Go -- E-Book | E-Audiobook

Book Cover with text of "How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith" on a tan background and black letteringHow the word is passed: a reckoning with the history of slavery across America by Clint Smith 

How the Word Is Passed Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

Library on the Go -- E-Book E-Audiobook 
cloudLibrary -- E-Book

Looking for additional books? Click here to access the Adult Race and Justice book archive.


Teen Books

The awakening of Malcolm X, a novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson;  includes a drawing of Malcolm X close upThe Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson

The Awakening of Malcolm X is a powerful narrative account of the activist's adolescent years in jail, written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz along with 2019 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award-winning author, Tiffany D. Jackson.  

Library on the Go -- Audiobook, E-book

CloudLibrary -- Audiobook

hoopla -- Audiobook

The story and legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre; Black birds in the sky; Award-winning author of the Voting Book Brandy ColbertBlack Birds In the Sky by Brandy Colbert

A searing new work of nonfiction from award-winning author Brandy Colbert about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Library on the Go -- E-Book

CloudLibrary -- Audiobook, E-Book 


Rise to the sun; Leah Johnson, beststelling author of You Should See me in a Crown; two young black women embrace against a pink backgroundRise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

From the author of You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson delivers a stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark.

Hoopla -- Audiobook

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson 

Believing heA person with dark skin's face with pink and purple smoke around their head and white text that reads "White Smoke, New York Times Bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson" and a quote from R.L. Stine "Creepy, frightening, I wanted to scream"r new home to actually be alive, especially when her brother almost dies, Marigold and her new blended family won't be safe until she brings the truth to light once and for all.

One light-skinned and one dark-skinned girl kneel next to each other wearing cheerleading outfits.   The cover reads "New York Times bestselling authors Kimberly Jones and Gilley Segal" Why We Fly" powerful, Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U GiveWhy We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Told from alternating points of view, Chanel and Eleanor's rocky start to senior year gets more complex when the cheerleading team kneels for the national anthem and each girl grapples with the consequences.

hoopla -- E-Book

A black cover with a variety of multicolored shapes displays 17 authors and the editors of this essay collection.  Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing up, and Trying AgainAllies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again edited by Shakira Boone and Dana Alison Levy

As an ally, you use your power-- no matter how big or small-- to support others. You learn, and try, and mess up, and try harder. In this collection of true stories, critically acclaimed YA authors get real about being an ally, needing an ally, and showing up for friends and strangers. From raw stories of racism and invisible disability to powerful moments of passing the mic, these authors share their truths and invite you to think about your own experiences and choices. Self-reflection prompts, resources, journaling ideas, and further reading suggestions help you find out what you can do. Because we are all in this together. And we all need allies. 

A muscular dark-skinned young man kneels with a football by his knee, behind the title Kneel.  Justice is a team sport. By Candace BufordKneel by Candace Buford

This fearless debut novel explores racism, injustice, and self-expression through the story of a promising Black football star in Louisiana. For guys like Russell Boudreaux, football is the only way out of their small town. Rus has a singular goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear.

hoopla -- E-Audiobook

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph

Frederick Joseph calls up race-related anecdotes from his past, explaining why they were hurtful and how he might handle things now. Each chapter features the voice of at least one artist or activist. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, "reverse racism" to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former "token Black kid" who now presents himself as the friend many readers need.

 cloudLibrary -- E-Book

The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir - Adapted for young adults by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A memoir from Ta-Nehisi Coates, in which he details the challenges on the streets and within one's family, especially the eternal struggle for peace between a father and son and the important role family plays in such circumstances.

Black girl dressed with gold armorThe Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The start of a bold and immersive West African-inspired, feminist fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther. During a ceremony to determine if she can join the village, sixteen-year-old Deka's blood runs gold, the color of impurity -- and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki -- near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.

cloudLibrary -- E-Book | E-Audiobook

Into the Streets: A Young Person's Visual History of Protest in the United States by Marke Bieschke

Prominently featured photos, artwork, and other visual elements will guide young adult readers through this lively, informative exploration of significant protests, sit-ins, and collective acts of resistance throughout US history.

 hoopla -- E-Book

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

Moving abruptly from Seoul to Alabama, Robin, a Korean teen, struggles in a hostile blended home and a new school where she does not speak English before forging unexpected connections in a local comic drawing class.

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner for Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from  their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life -- if they are lucky enough to survive the  journey.

 hoopla -- E-Audiobook 
 cloudLibrary -- E-Book



Looking for additional books? Click here to access the Young Adult Race and Justice Book Archive.


Juvenile Books

The Water Lady:  How Darlene Arviso helps a thirsty Navajo nation; Story by Alice B. McGinty, Illustrations by Shonto Begay; Cover shows a woman and a girl kneeling in a desert setting, holding a bucket.The Water Lady by Alice B. McGinty (ages 4-8)

Cody is worried when his family on a New Mexico Navajo reservation runs out of water, but Darlene Arviso, called "The Water Lady," is on the way with her tanker truck. Includes glossary of Navajo terms and notes about Arviso and life on a reservation.

CloudLibrary -- Ebook

Keeping it real: it's all fun and games until it gets real; Paula Chase.  Three young people are pictured against a bright and colorful background.Keeping it Real by Paula Chase (ages 8-12)

Marigold Johnson is looking forward to a future full of family, friends, and fashion—but what will she do when it all explodes in her face? When she discovers that her entire life is a lie?


Ancestor Approved: Intertribal stories for kids; Edited by Cynthia Letitch Smith; a young Native American wearing braids and a feather in their hair has their arms stretched out with a colorful blanket streaming behind them.Ancestor Approved:  Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (ages 8-12)

A collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

CloudLibrary:  E-book, Audiobook


A person kneeling on the ground with a dog who has their paw on their knee.Rez Dogs by Joseph Brucha

Twelve-year-old Malian lives with her grandparents on a Wabanaki reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic. She knows how to keep her family safe. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian's family knows that he will protect them too.

A young person with rainbows and magical imagery coming from their backpack.Isabel and Her Colores go to School by Alexandra Alessandri

English just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers her native Spanish. As she prepares for a new school, she knows she's going to have to learn. Her first day is uncomfortable, until she employs her crayons and discovers there's more than one way to communicate with new friends.

hoopla -- E-Book

A smiling young person with dark skin and the book's title above their head.Black Boy Joy edited by Kwame Mbalia

From seventeen acclaimed Black male and nonbinary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

Colorful book cover art with people surrounding the title.Your Life Matters by Chris Singleton

Confronted with daily racism, Black children are encouraged and supported by artists, athletes, writers, performers, and leaders who tell them that their lives matter. Includes brief biographies of the famous people featured in the illustrations.

Cover art with a young person looking out of an apartment window.The Cot in the Living Room by Hilda Eunice Burgos 

Night after night, a young girl watches her mami set up a cot in the living room for guests in their Washington Heights apartment. She resents that they get the entire living room with a view of the George Washington Bridge. Until one night, no one comes, and it's finally her chance! But as it turns out, sleeping in the cot in the living room isn't all she thought it would be.

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang (ages 4-8)

Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion?  Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong.  Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance; will Amy ever make the perfect bao?

Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith (grades 4-6)

Celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black historical figures in the Old West: Mary "Stagecoach" Fields, a cardplaying coach driver; Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy S Marshall west of the Mississippi; and Bob Lemmons, a cowboy famous for his ability to tame mustangs.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston (ages 8-12)

Thirteen-year-old Amari, a poor Black girl from the projects, gets an invitation from her missing brother to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and join in the fight against an evil magician. Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a trilogy filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.

cloudLibrary -- E-Book  | E-Audiobook

The truths we hold : an American journeyThe Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

The autobiographical memoir of the first woman, African American, and South Asian American to become attorney general of the State of California, and the second black woman ever elected to the United States Senate. Harris discusses the impact that her family and community had on her life, and how she came to discover her own sense of self and purpose.

Becoming Muhammad Ali : a novelBecoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

A biographical novel written partly in verse, tells the story of Cassius Clay, the determined boy who would one day become Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time.

cloudLibrary -- E-Book  | E-Audiobook

Ghost boysGhost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

After seventh-grader Jerome is shot by a white police officer, he observes the aftermath of his death and meets the ghosts of other fallen black boys including historical figure Emmett Till.


Looking for additional books? Click here to access the Juvenile Race and Justice Book archive.


Recommended Resources