2019 – Finding, Sharing, and Learning the Justices we need in Books


“Read Rise Resist” Tote bag image from Powell’s Books in OR. Photo by E. Okuno

My brain is a little tired this week. I’ve been eyeball deep in a huge survey project at work. It is an incredible project bringing together multiple partners, parents/caregivers, schools, language-based communities, and so many others to give input on what family engagement looks like. At another time I’ll share more about what I’m learning in that project—it is fascinating and overwhelming at the moment. This past Fakequity post shares a bit about the 2015 survey we did.

As my final post of 2019, I will give you my list of favorite books I’ve read this year. Maybe this will give you some books to read during your holiday break. The list has books for children, young adults, graphic novels, and adult books – a little something for everyone. No blog post next week, we’re taking the holidays off to wind down the year. See you in 2020.


Book List

This is a short and incomplete list of books I read and enjoyed in 2019. Most of them are by POC authors, I noted one that is by a white author.

In reading these books I’ve learned more about people of color history, about immigration, disability, LGBTQ, and how to act and be more in solidarity with others.

I’ve also enjoyed sharing many of them with my kids. We read before bed and through stories, we explore topics that may not come up in other ways. Such as reading George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy allowed my kid and I to talk about WWII and the incarceration of Japanese Americans. I also did something I somewhat regret and don’t recommend doing. My kid was being a bit of a brat while we were talking, I think it was a defense mechanism to not wanting to think too much more about the internment. Since he was being dismissive and pushing my buttons, I asked: “What would you pack if you only had one bag and one hour to pack?” He listed things and I said “no you can’t take your favorite blanket – it wouldn’t have fit,” and onward. He later cried. I now know this book made an impact on him and he has a deeper sense of connection to history through this book.

With my other kid, I’ve enjoyed watching her ask to revisit books such as Magic Ramen. She often groans when I bring home books from the library with a “not that one” whine. She prefers to read pop-culture Baby Sitters Club in graphic novel, Dog Man (groan), or some book with mice people who go on adventures. I’m all for letting her read whatever she wants for independent reading. I can often convince her to sit through a different book such as Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi series or her newest books about fostering pets featuring an Asian protagonist or Under my Hijab by Hena Khan.

There are so many more books I’ve enjoyed over the year. As Jondou wrote about in a previous post, reading these and sharing them brings us the justices we need. Through these books I’ve learned, have more compassion and understanding for other people’s experiences.

Book List

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni – white author

All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism by Lydia XZ Brown – This is a tome of a book, while I didn’t finish it, I did enjoy heavily browsing it. Every school and other spaces (e.g. hospitals, police and fire academies, etc.) should have a copy and encourage people to heavily browse it.

Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembicki

North of Dawn: A Novel by Nuruddin Farah – This might be the lone adult fiction book I read in 2019, I thought about it as I was listening to an NPR story today about immigration between Europe and Syria.

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo – I don’t read a lot of poetry, but enjoyed this a lot

Parker’s Inheritance by Varian Johnson – My kid and I LOVED untangling the mystery in this book

Under my Hijab by Hena Khan

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi – a must read

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli – recommended by Kenny in Tacoma on Twitter.

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff – white

This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta – I listened to this on audiobook format

My Footprints by Bao Phi

M Is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child by Tiffany Rose

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (graphic memoir)

Stone River Crossing and Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle – I really enjoyed this historical YA fiction

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Yang

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