Educators can prepare students to counter xenophobia, bigotry, or racism. They can use literature as a means to start a conversation about racism. Stories enable the students to look at things from fictional characters’ viewpoints and develop empathy towards them.
Here are some award-winning novels for young adults that can facilitate discussions on racism. However, the books should be read by the correct age group as they contain some profanity and violence.
1. All American Boys
Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds are the writers of this book. There are different authors for various chapters. It is about a football player named Quinn (a white student) and Rashad (a black student). Rashad is wrongly blamed for pilfering and brutally beaten. Quinn is present there, but he does not support Rashad because he has a personal connection with the police officer. Rashad’s absence from school leads to community activism and school demonstrations. It is suitable for young adults in the age group of 12-18 years.
2. Dear Martin
In this novel, Nic Stone tells about Justyce McAllister, who studies in Braselton Prep (a school with more white students). He is the best student in his class. His classmates tease him with racist jokes. One day a white cop who is off-duty notices him and another black student. There is a gunshot. Later, Justyce has to work with a racial case. The novel is suitable for students who are 14 or older.
3. The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas tells about a young boy, Starr Carter, who is stopped by the cops while fleeing from a party after a fight. Khalil, her friend, is with her. He is shot dead by the cops. She is a witness to the dispute and can speak in favor of Khalil, but this can make her life difficult and put her family members’ lives in danger. The novel is worth reading by students above 14 years of age.
4. How It Went Down
In this book, Kekla Magoon talks about the community’s grief, frustration, and rage when a black teenager is shot dead. Jack Franklin (white man) shot Tariq Johnson, a 16-year-old boy, twice on the false pretext of self-defense. He did not receive any severe punishment for this act. All the people who loved Tariq were unhappy about it. The details of his character are dwelt upon in the book. Students above the age of 11 can read it.
Some parts of this book, written by Walter Dean Myers, are in a diary. It is the story of a young boy named Steve Harmon. They say that he has robbed the drugstore and catch him. But he is not at fault. Students above 13 years of age can read it.
6. American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang has written this book in three parts. He has described the relationship between Jin Wang and Wei-Chen Sun. There is a fantasy story of Monkey King, who is unhappy, and the tale of Chin-Kee, a comical representation of Chinese stereotypes. These tales are about racial alienation and suggest that accepting ethnic and racial identities is the best solution. Students above the age of 12 years may read this book.
7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The author of this novel is Sherman Alexie. Arnold Spirit, Junior is the narrator of the story. He is 14 years old. His parents are addicted to alcohol. He lives in poverty and is beaten-up. He decides to leave the Indigenous reservation and join a white school that is at a distance of 22 miles from his place. He experiences conflicts between cultures. It is suitable for children above 14 years of age.
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