All the World's a Classroom
This is hands-down the best book I read in 2020. While the book is aptly subtitled “The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” you won’t truly appreciate the epic-ness of the story unless you delve into it. The Great Migration that Isabel Wilkerson is talking about is the migration of Blacks from the South to the North throughout the 20th century in America. For this book, she conducted more than 1200 interviews with individuals who either were part of the migration themselves, or those whose lives were touched by this phenomenon. Yet she packages her research beautifully in the story of three individuals, bringing us along the ups and downs of their incredible lives.
Don’t be discouraged by the book’s length–it is a page-turner. Further, this will be one of the most important books you’ll ever read in your life. Note: This book was also featured in my Reading Guide to Antiracist Books.
I would describe Hong’s writing as fierce, because first, she is so incisive in her analysis of the Asian American experience–both as victims and perpetrators of racist attitudes. Second, her analysis is weaved into poignant story-telling. To me, her sentences come blazing out of the page, and I relish the burn from this fiery book. Minor Feelings is an important contribution in the wider multi-way conversation on race.
This is a little-known, under-told history of the decades-long struggle for equity in my particular community of faith. I so appreciate Calvin Rock’s contribution in outlining the context of key events in the denomination’s history with regards to Blacks and Whites’ leadership. Before this book, I, like many others in the community of faith, had only superficial understanding (or rather, misunderstanding) of the racial dynamics in the church. This book is eye-opening, to say the least.
An Important read for you who are fellow Seventh-day Adventists, or others who may want to see an example of how race relations play out in a faith community.
As a member of a faith community that keeps the Sabbath ritual (i.e., ceasing from work from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), I’ve always found it ironic that most of my favorite books on the Sabbath are by writers who are outside of my own community of faith. Often, Sabbath books in my church tend to be cerebral and academic, whereas my favorite ones tend to be poetic.
Well, this book bucks the trend. It is both resourceful in the academic sense, but also poetic and profound. It synthesizes wonderfully the many facets of the Sabbath, the various schools of theological thoughts on each facet, and the author’s commentary on the prevailing views. In an exhausting year that is 2020, Sabbath carries an extra special significance in retaining and restoring our humanity (more on this in an upcoming post), and it has been a welcome relief to immerse myself in the topic of rest.
Favorite Books Lists
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I’d like to introduce all of you, readers, to Read4Unity, an awesome Atlanta-based initiative to spread diverse books in the community, started by two enterprising women, Yenny and Sara. I have a personal connection here, since they are both Indonesians living in the U.S., and Yenny’s sister and brother-in-law are good friends from way back (see their photography work at enmuseart.com).
If my last posts on Children’s Books That Celebrate Differences and the Reading Guide to Antiracist Books appeal to you, then Read4Unity is right up your alley. They are taking real and important actions in their community. Please consider supporting their work (see below).
Read on for an interview with Read4Unity!
1. What is Read4Unity?
Our ultimate goal is to sustainably grow and expand Read 4 Unity’s reach to serve communities with much-needed diverse books NATIONWIDE!
2. What inspired you to start Read4Unity?
3. What is your vision for what you’d like to achieve in the near term and long term?
Near term (now and the next 3 months!):
2. Organizational partnerships: we will install our first 2 R4U libraries soon at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston GA and downtown ATL!
3. R4U champion program: we have been asked by so many people on how to volunteer with us. We need help in collecting and distributing books in your local areas. Email us at email@example.com or DM us on IG at Read4Unity for details!
4. We are in conversations with a major library and an institution for some exciting partnerships in the near future! Can’t wait to share them with you all soon.
Yenny, Read4Unity founder.
Sara, Read4Unity founder.
4. Since you’ve started, what have been the responses from people/communities?
5. What exciting things can we look forward soon?
6. How can we engage and be a part of Read4Unity?
What are you waiting for? Check our their pages, send over books, and get involved!
For the fifth installment of my favorite children’s books, I’m focusing on children’s books that celebrate differences. With the ongoing racial reckoning in the United States that finds its echoes globally, it behooves parents to be acutely intentional with the way we teach our children about humanity and the various colors and cultures we embody. Even young children can embrace negative racial stereotypes that we consciously or subconsciously hold. So while we fight any racist idea or thought within ourselves, we need to also impart better values in our children.
One of the best ways to raise antiracist kids is by diversifying their reading selections. For example, pick up books by diverse authors, books that have diverse characters and graphics, stories that tell counter-cultural stereotypes. Have books that have diverse heroes–characters that center the story line that come in different colors and from different cultures. Also, read books with characters that your kids can see themselves in, not just as token characters, but as characters that truly represent who they are and how they do life.
We need to do better. I need to do better. And better is never inevitable; it always takes effort and work. Let’s do this together!
For an adult version of antiracist books, see this Reading Guide to Antiracist Books.
I think this is my new all-time favorite book. The Day You Begin is poetic, beautifully illustrated, and most importantly, teaching the very important lesson to open up and share the gift of who you are with the world. My younger self could really use this lesson, as well as my present self.
What are your favorite children’s books that celebrate differences?
*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!
*Bookshop.org links on this page are also affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you purchase from these links, which also help independent bookstores across the country.