Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

In Middle Grade Book Review, Non-Fiction Reads on March 22, 2020 at 10:39 pm


by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi

Non-Fiction/©2020/Recommended for Middle School and Older

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):

A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism–and antiracism–in America

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

My Thoughts:

I read this book previewing it for a middle grade classroom. I am pretty sure I have read every book Jason Reynolds has written and have been impressed with every one of them, but this may be his most powerful yet. It is directed at secondary students, but, especially in light of all that is happening in our society today, every adult can learn from it as well. It is a complicated subject, but Mr. Reynolds brings depth and better understanding to it.  I can only hope that it finds its way to every secondary school in the country. It is a powerful book and has incredible potential to make people think and take action to make a difference. Be sure to read the Afterward and Acknowledgements as well – both are equally powerful. The Further Reading is also a great resource.

Additional Resources:

Jason Reynolds Interview with Trevor Noah

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America

In Middle Grade Book Review on October 6, 2019 at 6:52 pm


by Teri Kanefield

Non-Fiction/©2017/Recommended for Middle School

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):

The America that Alexander Hamilton knew was largely agricultural and built on slave labor. He envisioned something else: a multi-racial, urbanized, capitalistic America with a strong central government. He believed that such an America would be a land of opportunity for the poor and the newcomers. But Hamilton’s vision put him at odds with his archrivals who envisioned a pastoral America of small towns, where governments were local, states would control their own destiny, and the federal government would remain small and weak. The disputes that arose during America’s first decades continued through American history to our present day. Over time, because of the systems Hamilton set up and the ideas he left, his vision won out. Here is the story that epitomizes the American dream-a poor immigrant who made good in America. In the end, Hamilton rose from poverty through his intelligence and ability and did more to shape our country than any of his contemporaries.

My Thoughts:

From the very first line (“On a mild summer morning just after dawn, two men met on the dueling grounds in Weehawken, New Jersey.), the author pulls the reader in and rarely lets go. That is quite a feat for a non-fiction book. Kanefield delivers a well researched, well written, and concise biography  in a very readable format that examines the key portions of Hamilton’s life and service to the United States of America, including his role in ratifying the Constitution, his invaluable contribution to the famous Federalist Papers, and his time spent as the original Secretary of the Treasury (where his ideas on national banking were far ahead of their time).

Besides the interesting visual style (differing text formats, side bars, drawings, etc.), perhaps the hallmark of “Hamilton” is its ability to take what can be a complicated period in American History and make it more easily understandable. It’s engaging enough to keep the pages turning, yet educational enough to learn much from the experience.

Other Books in the Series:

Abraham Lincoln: The Making of America #3

Susan B. Anthony: The Making of America #4

Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Making of America #5

Thurgood Marshall: The Making of America #6


City of Ghosts

In Middle Grade Book Review on September 26, 2019 at 5:09 pm


by Victoria Schwab

Fantasy Paranormal/©2018/Recommended for Middle School


Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

My Thoughts:

This is a great middle grade ghost story. It has a very engaging plot with the action coming fast and furious once the story got going. It is very well written, with lots of details that bring life and imagery to the story. Fast paced, with just the right amount of scary, and very funny. All in all, an enjoyable read.


Next in the Series: Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2)