Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: In this “remix” of Ibram Kendi’s award-winning book Stamped from the Beginning, Jason Reynolds tells the history of racism in America, going back to the fifteenth century and continuing to (almost) the present day. Focusing on people such as Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Jennings Bryan, and Angela Davis, Reynolds explores their lives and beliefs in the context of racism vs. assimilation vs. antiracism. Starting off with the statement (revisited many times) that “this is not a history book”, the book is written in a tone designed to appeal to young readers. Includes an afterword, acknowledgements from both Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, a lengthy reading list, and extensive source notes. 320 pages; grades 6-12.
Pros: Jason Reynolds’ book could not have been more timely, and will undoubtedly find its way into the curriculum of many a school district in the coming year. As he has proven in his fiction writing, his writing style is extremely engaging for young adults, who may be relieved to hear this isn’t a history book and will enjoy reading it for their own edification. The content will reveal to them–and to adults as well–what has traditionally been left out of the telling of America’s past, and will give them an antiracist lens with which to view the present.
Cons: Covering 600 years of history in a book of this length is a daunting task, and readers may struggle to keep all the names, places, events, and belief systems straight as they quickly travel through the centuries.
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