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

Buses are a comin': memoir of a Freedom Rider by Charles Person - photograph of bus on fire with black person sitting on the ground looking at the scene.Buses are a comin’: memoir of a freedom rider by Charles Person

A surviving original Freedom Rider recounts his firsthand experiences with the South's historical and ongoing resistance to racial equality, sharing insights into what is required for progressive change to become possible in America.

cloudLibrary -- E-Book

White Ivy  by Susie Yang - a woman with her arms hugging herself. White Ivy: a novel by Susie Yang 

Years after she is sent away from Boston to China for shoplifting, a conflicted Chinese-American woman reconnects with her golden-boy childhood crush before a ghost from the past threatens her ambitions.

Library on the Go -- E-Book 

cloudLibrary -- E-Book E-Audiobook 

Evicted: poverty and profit in the American city by Matthew Desmond - blank wall with impressions of past hanging pictures.Evicted: poverty and profit in the American city by Matthew Desmond 

A Harvard sociologist examines the under-represented challenge of eviction as a formidable cause of poverty in America, revealing how millions of people are wrongly forced from their homes and reduced to cycles of extreme disadvantage that are reinforced by dysfunctional legal systems.

Library on the Go -- E-Book 

cloudLibrary -- E-Book  | E-Audiobook

My Broken Language by Quiara Alegria Hudes - black background with silhouettes of people in the colors of yellow, white and blueMy broken language: a memoir by Quiara Alegria Hudes 

This is an inspired exploration of home, family, memory, and belonging, narrated by the obsessed girl who fought to become an artist so she could capture the world she loved in all its wild and delicate beauty.

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

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

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


Teen Books

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen; a young Black woman with gold jewelry is shown in full torso profile; a mermaid tail is in the front right corner of the coverSkin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Transformed by the goddess Yemoja into a Mami Wati, an African mermaid charged with collecting the souls of those who die at sea, Simi goes against the gods to save a living boy, Kola, from drowning.

Library on the Go eBook

Living Beyond Borders:  Growing Up Mexican in America edited by Margarita Longoria; Orange and green cover with cacti, butterflies, houses, a person's profileLiving Beyond Borders:  Growing Up Mexican In America edited by Margarita Longoria

An anthology of short stories, essays, poetry, and comics about the Mexican American experience.

Huda F are You? by Huda Fahmy, author of Yes, I'm hot in this; a close up of a cartoon young woman with glasses in a hijab imposed over a background of a crowded school hallwayHuda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy

Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl.  Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can't rely on her hijab to define her anymore.

Black was the Ink by Michelle Coles; New Visions Award Honor; A young black person in a red hoodie looks out of the corner of their eyes at the US Capitol behind them.Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles

Despondent sixteen-year-old Malcolm finds new strength and courage as he is transported between his family's modern-day Mississippi farm and the life of his ancestor Cedric Johnson, a congressional aide in post-Civil War America.

Putting Peace First:  Seven Commitments to Change the World by Eric David Dawson; Cover art shows a young person painting the continents on what appears to be a brick wallPutting Peace First:  Seven Commitments to Change the World by Eric David Dawson

Includes seven strategies that children can use to make an impact in their communities and promote peace and tolerance.

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe; cover art is of a tent in foreground at sunset.Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz

In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

CloudLibrary:  E-book

A Face for Picasso: A Memoir by Ariel Henley; Beauty is subjective, pain is universal.  Just the left side of a young caucasian woman's face is shown as she lifts her face up.A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome by Ariel Henley

At only eight months old, identical twin sisters Ariel and Zan were diagnosed with Crouzon syndrome -- a rare condition where the bones in the head fuse prematurely. They were the first twins known to survive it.  Growing up, Ariel and her sister endured numerous appearance-altering procedures. Surgeons would break the bones in their heads and faces to make room for their growing organs. While the physical aspect of their condition was painful, it was nothing compared to the emotional toll of navigating life with a facial disfigurement.  Ariel explores beauty and identity in her young-adult memoir about resilience, sisterhood, and the strength it takes to put your life, and yourself, back together time and time again. 


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


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


Juvenile Books

A girl with her arms crossed stands in front of a taped up poster with the book title on itSusie B. Won't Back Down by Margaret Finnegan

Roll with It meets Absolutely Normal Chaos in this funny, big-hearted novel about a young girl’s campaign for student council president, told through letters to her hero Susan B. Anthony.

An older Black woman with short purple hair holds a handful of beets and a platter of meat; next to her a broadly smiling Black boy grates cheeseSoul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham

Granny teaches her young grandson how to cook the family meal, in this celebration of food, traditions, and gathering together at the table. Includes recipe for baked macaroni and cheese.

Hoopla:  Movie, audiobook, E-book

cloudLibrary:  E-book, audiobook

A crowded daladala minibus is crowded with people, chickens, goats, baskets and more.Room for Everyone by Naaz Khan

Musa and his sister travel to a Zanzibar beach in a shared minibus which, despite Musa's protests, gets loaded with everything from a man and his bicycle to ten swimmers.

the silhouette of a Black boy against a medium blue background with light blue stars around his headMighty Inside by Sundee T. Frazier

Melvin Robinson wants a strong, smooth, He-Man voice that lets him say what he wants, when he wants-especially to his crush Millie Takazawa, and Gary Ratliff, who constantly puts him down. But the thought of starting high school is only making his stutter worse. And Melvin's growing awareness that racism is everywhere-not just in the South where a boy his age has been brutally killed by two white men, but also in his own hometown of Spokane-is making him realize that he can't mutely stand by. His new friend Lenny, a fast-talking, sax-playing Jewish boy, who lives above the town's infamous (and segregated) Harlem Club, encourages Melvin to take some risks-to invite Millie to Homecoming and even audition for a local TV variety show. When they play music together, Melvin almost feels like he's talking, no words required. But there are times when one needs to speak up.

A Black boy and a white Girl stand back to back on newspaper looking concernedSomething Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story of Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

CloudLibrary -- Audiobook

Hoopla -- Audiobook

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera, cover art is a stylized orange and royal blue woodcut appearing image of a young woman's face close up.The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.  But Petra's world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children – among them Petra and her family – have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.  Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet – and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity's past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard – or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

CloudLibrary --  Ebook

Hoopla --  Ebook

Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson, cover art shows several smiling Black farmers with arms raised in joyJuneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Describes how the holiday of Juneteenth began and discusses its traditions, symbols, how the holiday has changed and and how it is observed today.

Hoopla -- Ebook

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.



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


Recommended Resources