50 Books for 2021

Picture of mugs saying: “Read Rise Resist”

Normally this time of year I’d write a POC shopping guide. Thankfully, this year there are others who are writing those guides so I’ll defer on writing it. If you are stuck for ideas this year feel free to check last year and the previous year’s shopping guides. The Intentionalist is a great website to find POC owned businesses and Equity Matter’s POC map is also very helpful to finding POC businesses.

Instead of writing a shopping guide, I thought I’d share a list of 50 books to consider reading in 2021. The list is a mix of books, some newer releases, some older and worth revisiting. Hopefully you’ll find something on the list that might inspire or at least interest you.

If reading is a challenge for you (e.g. time, learning disability, language, etc.) feel free to use this as a jumping off point to find the author’s talks on online, the audiobook version, young adult version, or a short article – this is for you to make your own.

I’ve done my best to note the author’s race and ethnicity, and in a few cases denote if the book is about disability – these categories are what I know through research of the authors, apologies if I erred on any of the categorizations. I thought about removing it (safer route) but chose to leave it to help people see where they might want to pick up a book to help diversify their own reading.

Special thank you to friends and colleagues who contributed to this list. I asked for recommendations to provide a more diverse list of books for you to choose from, you’ll see my book biases come out below. I haven’t read all of these and look forward to diversifying my reading list through some of these suggestions. I’ve put them in Fakequity’s Bookshop store front.


I read a lot of children’s books and thoroughly enjoy many of them. Some I borrow from the library because I think my kid would enjoy them, others I borrow because I want to preview them, and some I borrow for the illustrations. I’ve included two books about Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, because they are timely.

It’s Shoe Time – I like this book because too often we only see Black children in books about civil rights, history, or nonfiction. Here we see a Black child in an everyday setting putting on shoes.Collier, BryanAfrican American/Black
Meet Yasmin, seriesFaruqi, SaadiaMiddle Eastern – Muslim
Kamala Harris Rooted in JusticeGrimes, NikkiAfrican American/Black
Superheroes are EverywhereHarris, KamalaMixed – African American/Asian
Imagine — poetry Herrera, Juan FelipeLatinx
Journey of the Freckled Indian: A Tlingit Culture Story — I just read this and am in love with it. The positive identity message is important for mixed-race, POC, and white children.London, AlyssaNative American – Tlingit/Indigenous
Ohana Means FamilyLoomis, IlimaPacific Islander – Native Hawaiian
Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away — Another recent gem. The prose in this book make it a delight, despite the sad topic of friends moving apart. This is a great book to have in a classroom library.Medina, MegLatinx
Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made US HistoryReynoso, NaibeLatinx
When We Were Alone* — This author has several new releases that look interesting, check them out tooRobertson, David A.Native American
The Most Beautiful Thing – This is an intergenerational story about an immigrant family, a lot to unpack in this picture bookYang, Kao KaliaAsian – Hmong
Malala’s Magic PencilYousafzai, MalalaMiddle Eastern – Muslim


Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of fiction which is apparent in this short list of books. Many of these suggestions came from colleagues and friends who adore fiction the way I adore children’s books and non-fiction.

Sabrina & Corina: StoriesFajardo-Anstine, KaliLatinx
Where We Once BelongedFigiel, SiaPacific Islander – Samoan
PachinkoLee, Min JinAsian – Korean
Rolling the R’sLinmark, R. ZmaoraAsian – Filipino
The DeepSolomon, RiversAfrican American/Black
How Much of these Hills are GoldZhang, C. PamAsian

Graphic Novels and Graphic Memoirs

This past summer I re-read a lot of graphic novels with my older kid. Through this medium we were able to talk about history in ways that connected with him. Please make sure to pick up the newest from the list When Stars are Scattered. I’ve ordered multiple copies of this as gifts this year, partially because I know the recipients haven’t gotten it in the past from me since it is new.

Good TalkJacob, MiraAsian – Indian
March 1, 2, 3 — Worth revisiting since Rep. Lewis died earlier this year. I learned a lot rereading this trilogy during the summer.Lew, Rep. JohnAfrican American/Black
When Stars are ScatteredMohamed, OmarBlack – Somali refugee experience, Disability
They Called Us EnemyTakei, GeorgeAsian – Japanese
Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic CollectionDembicki, Matt (editor)Native American/Indigenous


This list is the longest, partially because I asked friends and colleagues, including white allies for their recommendations on books to help other white people learn about race. Nonfiction came up a lot in these recommendations. I specifically said POC authors only, so hopefully this will give you some new authors to learn about race form. An asterisk (*) next to the title means this is recommended for white people as a place to begin learning more about race — consider it a white people to white people recommendation.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide*Anderson, CarolAfrican American/Black
The Undocumented AmericansCornejo Villavicencio, KarlaLatinx
Are Prisons Obsolete?Davis, Angela Y.African American/Black
Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary IranHakakian, RoyaMiddle East — Iranian
Braiding SweetgrassKimmerer, Robin WallNative American – Citizen Potawatomi /Indigenous
Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty QuestionsLuiselli, ValeriaLatinx
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies*Menakem, ResmaaAfrican American/Black
A Promised LandObama, BarakMixed – African American/Black and white
So You Want to Talk About Race*Oluo, IjeomaAfrican American/Black
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It MattersParker, PriyaAsian – Indian/White
Care Work: Dreaming Disability JusticePiepzna-Samarasinha, Leah LakshmiDisability
The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing*Singh, Annelise A.
24 Ways to Move More: Monthly Inspiration for Health and MovementTsong, NicoleAsian
Men We Reaped: A Memoir*Ward, JesmynAfrican American/Black
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration*Wilkerson, IsabelAfrican American/Black
Caste*Wilkerson, IsabelAfrican American/Black
Disability VisibilityWong, Alice (editor)Asian – Disability


I love a good cookbook. The bright pictures, the short narratives about the food, people, and cooking techniques. Even if I don’t cook the food in it, I appreciate the care and stories that are interwoven between the food pictures and the recipes. Additionally, pick up Pieometry by Lauren Ko. It didn’t make the full list since I haven’t been able to look at it yet, it still on hold at the library, but I love the author’s Instagram page and many others have raved about it.

Chinese Soul FoodChou, Hsiao-ChingAsian – Chinese
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous KitchenSherman, SeanNative American/Indigenous


This is another category I don’t read a lot of so the list is short. Send me your recommendations for poetry by POCs.

An American Sunrise – PoemsHarjo, JoyNative American/Indigenous
Minor FeelingsHong Park, CathyAsian – Korean

Young Adult

Young adult books are a joy to read, I hope you’ll pick up all of these.

Stand Up Yumi Chung!Kim, JessicaAsian
Mulan: Before the SwordLin, GraceAsian – Chinese
Ghost Boys*Parker Rhodes, JewellAfrican American/Black
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten BlocksReynolds, JasonAfrican American/Black
Stone River CrossingTingle, TimNative American/Indigenous

Bonus Book!

Santa’s Husband – Pickup this book to challenge all of the Santa bias’s you have. In this book Santa is Black and married to David. This is becoming the annual Christmas book I read to my kid.  

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