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Suggested Summer Reading 2020: Suggested Summer Reading List 2020

About Suggested Summer Reading 2020

It's summer and we have time to read!  Every year I put together a list of the best books I've read this year that I think you will like. This year I included a number of excellent books to help start the journey towards active anti-racism. If you need help with anything or want individual suggestions, please email me at so we can talk books.

Other summer reading opportunities include Summer Book Clubs and the Girl Up Summer Read/Watch List, which are on the tabs on the left. Don't forget to look at the Free audio & ebooks page, too.

Happy reading!

--Mrs. Hanson

Suggested summer reading 2020 slideshow (click the arrow to the right of the bookshot to see all the books)

Image of the cover of

A Girl Like That by Tana Bhathena

A deeply affecting novel about a girl from a Zoarastrian family from India  who has settled in Saudi Arabia. Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

Recommended for grades 9-12

An image of the cover

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Audiobook available on Hoopla
A  history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

Recommended for Grades 11-12. For grades 9-10, please look at An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza.

An image of the cover of

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Sci-fi short stories

"Friday Black is hard to explain. The best I can do is say that it's like if Black Mirror imagined a future based on the growing horrors of racism, violence, and capitalism rather than the growing horrors of technology. This collection of stories does what really excellent sci-fi does and explores the present through the future." (Jessica Woodbury, Goodreads)

Recommended for grades 11-12

An image of the cover of Green by Sam Graham-Felson

Green by Sam Graham-Fehlsen

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King Middle School. Everybody picks on him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won't even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city's best public high school--which, if practice tests are any indication, isn't likely--he'll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Recommended for grades 11-12

An image of the cover of Price of Duty by Todd Strasser: a boy sitting, draped in an American flag looking lonely

Price of Duty by Todd Strasser

Short and concise novel about a teenager from a military family who enlists in the army to fight in our “forever” war. Describes the responsibility and horror of war and explores why soldiers do what they do despite the heavy unbearable price they pay.

Recommended for grades 9-12

An image of the cover of Spillover by David Quammen: a really scary looking monkey screaming with its mouth wide open and teeth showing

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be? (Published in 2012). 

Grades 11-12

Image of the cover of Stamped! by Jason Reynolds

Stamped! Racism, Anti-Racism and You by Jason Reynolds


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.

Grades 9-12

Image of the cover of They Went Left by Karen Hesse

They Went Left by Karen Hesse

Historical fiction

Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. She needs to find her little brother Abek. We don’t read much about what happened after the concentration camps were liberated, how thousands of people had to rebuild their lives after the horror of WWII. Hesse has written a moving, challenging, accessible, poetic masterpiece.

Recommended for grades 9-12

Image of the cover of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

"This book, more than any other I've read, opened my eyes to see how the innate racism in our country works and affects the people it is most sharply targeted at: African Americans. It's one thing to understand that it exists (amazing that this is still debated) and empathize with its victims, but quite another to see it through their eyes. Malcolm X, as he points out, grew up in the "tolerant" North. His battle was not with lynch mobs and Jim Crow laws, but with the death-by-a-thousand-cuts brand of racism that, I would argue, now constitutes the mainstream dynamic between blacks and whites in this country." (Wes Morgan, Goodreads)

Recommended for grades 10-12

Image of the cover of The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein: a map with colored in zones representing redlining

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein


Explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Recommended for grades 11 and 12

Image of the cover of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Fiction (in verse)
Ebook, audiobook on Hoopla

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

Grades 9-12

Image of the cover of Darius the Great is not OK by Adib Khorran

Darius the Great is not Okay by Adib Khorram


A sensitive and funny novel about Darius, not a True Persian—his dad’s an Uber Mensch (American). Darius also suffers from Mood Slingshot Maneuvers (depression). Anyway before you say “no way, “ this is a great book about his first trip to Iran to visit his Mom’s family. I got a lot out of his descriptions of depression—I really think this helped me understand the people I love with depression. Oh and the descriptions of the various Persian dishes are AMAZING and made me very hungry. Also, Darius is a tea fanatic and so am I so...BFFs.

Recommended for grades 9-12

Image of the cover of New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Graphic novel
Available on Hoopla

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

Recommended for grades 9-10


Image of the cover of Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin by Nic Stone


Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Recommended for grades 9-12