The best 29 Social Justice books

Social justice is a topic that resonates deeply with many of us. To foster a better understanding of the struggles and progress in achieving social justice, we've compiled a collection of books that explore the history, theories, and real-life examples of social justice movements.
Through these thought-provoking titles, you'll gain insights and perspectives that can inspire and empower you to contribute towards a more just and equitable society. Join us in delving into the complexities and possibilities of social justice with this essential reading list.

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1
Social Justice Books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas
4.1 (117 ratings)
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What's The Hate U Give about?

The Hate U Give (2017) is a critically acclaimed coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of racism and police brutality. It follows 16-year-old Starr Carter as she navigates two contrasting worlds: the poor Black neighborhood where she lives and the white prep school where she studies. Starr's attempt to strike a balance between these two worlds is shattered when she witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, by a police officer.

Who should read The Hate U Give?

  • Social justice advocates and activists
  • Young adults exploring identity and inequality
  • Anyone interested in compelling contemporary fiction

2
Social Justice Books: The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú

The Line Becomes a River

Francisco Cantú
Dispatches from the Border

What's The Line Becomes a River about?

The Line Becomes a River is a memoir that explores the complexities of immigration and border security. Francisco Cantú, a former border patrol agent, shares his personal experiences and reflections on the impact of immigration policies on individuals and families. Through vivid storytelling, the book offers a thought-provoking examination of the human cost of border enforcement.

Who should read The Line Becomes a River?

  • Those who are interested in the experiences of U.S. border patrol agents
  • Readers who want to learn about the complex issues surrounding immigration and border control
  • People who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally charged memoirs

3
Social Justice Books: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider

Audre Lorde
Essays and Speeches

What's Sister Outsider about?

"Sister Outsider" is a collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde, a black feminist writer and activist. In this book, Lorde explores the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and discusses the importance of embracing our differences and standing up against oppression. She challenges the status quo and offers a powerful critique of the systems that marginalize and silence certain groups of people. It is a thought-provoking and empowering read that encourages readers to embrace their own unique identities and advocate for social change.

Who should read Sister Outsider?

  • Individuals interested in exploring the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality
  • Readers seeking insight into the lived experiences of marginalized groups
  • Those looking to broaden their perspectives and challenge societal norms

4
Social Justice Books: We Wear the Mask by Brando Skyhorse

We Wear the Mask

Brando Skyhorse
15 Stories of Passing in America

What's We Wear the Mask about?

"We Wear the Mask" by Brando Skyhorse is a powerful memoir that delves into the author's complex family history and his own journey of self-discovery. Through a series of interconnected essays, Skyhorse explores themes of identity, race, and the masks we all wear to navigate the world. With raw honesty and lyrical prose, the book challenges societal expectations and offers a poignant reflection on the true self hidden behind the masks we present to others.

Who should read We Wear the Mask?

  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of identity and self-discovery
  • Readers who enjoy stories about family dynamics and secrets
  • Those who appreciate well-crafted and emotionally impactful narratives

5
Social Justice Books: Stamped by Jason Reynolds

Stamped

Jason Reynolds
Racism, Antiracism, and You

What's Stamped about?

This book explores the history of racism and its impact on society, focusing on the concept of "race" as a social construct. It offers a fresh perspective on the subject, challenging readers to rethink their understanding of race and its implications. Through engaging storytelling and thought-provoking analysis, Stamped sheds light on the complexities of racial inequality and the ongoing struggle for social justice.

Who should read Stamped?

  • Readers who want to deepen their understanding of racial inequality and its historical roots
  • People interested in learning about the history and impact of racism in America
  • Individuals who are looking for an engaging and thought-provoking exploration of race and identity

6
Social Justice Books: Walking with the Wind by John Lewis

Walking with the Wind

John Lewis
A Memoir of the Movement

What's Walking with the Wind about?

This memoir by civil rights leader John Lewis chronicles his remarkable journey from a small farm in Alabama to the halls of Congress. Through vivid storytelling, Lewis shares his experiences as a key figure in the American civil rights movement, offering insights into the power of nonviolent protest and the ongoing fight for equality. "Walking with the Wind" is a powerful and inspiring account of one man's dedication to creating positive change in the world.

Who should read Walking with the Wind?

  • Individuals interested in the civil rights movement and John Lewis's role in it
  • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal stories
  • Those seeking inspiration from a strong leader's journey and perseverance

7
Social Justice Books: They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

They Were Her Property

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

What's They Were Her Property about?

This book explores the untold history of white women slave owners in the American South. Drawing on extensive research, Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers reveals how these women actively participated in and benefited from the institution of slavery, challenging the traditional narrative of passive bystanders. Through compelling stories and analysis, the book sheds light on the complex dynamics of power and control within the slaveholding society. It offers a thought-provoking examination of the role of gender and race in shaping the history of American slavery.

Who should read They Were Her Property?

  • Readers interested in the history of slavery and its impact on American society
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery and the experiences of enslaved women
  • Individuals who appreciate well-researched and thought-provoking books on social history

8
Social Justice Books: Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele

Whistling Vivaldi

Claude M. Steele
How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do

What's Whistling Vivaldi about?

In "Whistling Vivaldi," social psychologist Claude M. Steele explores the concept of stereotype threat and its impact on individuals' behavior and performance. Drawing on his own research and real-life examples, Steele uncovers how negative stereotypes can create self-fulfilling prophecies and hinder people's ability to reach their full potential. He also offers insights on how we can combat stereotype threat and create a more inclusive and equitable society. This thought-provoking book sheds light on the power of stereotypes and the importance of understanding and addressing their effects.

Who should read Whistling Vivaldi?

  • Individuals interested in understanding the impact of stereotypes on behavior and performance
  • People looking to gain insights into their own experiences with stereotype threat
  • Educators, psychologists, and researchers studying identity and social psychology

9
Social Justice Books: The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist

The Half Has Never Been Told

Edward E. Baptist
Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

What's The Half Has Never Been Told about?

This book delves into the untold history of American slavery and its central role in shaping the nation's economy. Through extensive research and compelling storytelling, Edward E. Baptist reveals the brutal realities of slavery and its profound impact on the development of the United States. It challenges the traditional narrative and offers a new perspective on this dark chapter in American history.


10
Social Justice Books: Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King Jr.

Why We Can't Wait

Martin Luther King Jr.

What's Why We Can't Wait about?

In this powerful book, Martin Luther King Jr. reflects on the civil rights movement and the urgency of ending racial segregation and discrimination in America. He argues that the time for change is now and that we cannot afford to wait any longer for equality and justice. Through personal anecdotes and historical analysis, King inspires readers to take action and join the fight for a better future.

Who should read Why We Can't Wait?


11
Social Justice Books: The Other Slavery by Andrés Reséndez

The Other Slavery

Andrés Reséndez
The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

What's The Other Slavery about?

The Other Slavery uncovers the lesser-known history of indigenous slavery in the Americas. Through extensive research and compelling storytelling, Andrés Reséndez reveals the brutal reality of forced labor and exploitation endured by millions of native peoples, challenging our understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and its lasting impact on the world. This eye-opening book sheds light on a dark chapter in history and calls for a reexamination of the global legacy of slavery.

Who should read The Other Slavery?

  • History buffs curious about lesser-known aspects of slavery
  • Those interested in understanding the extent and impact of slavery throughout the Americas
  • Readers who appreciate a well-researched and thought-provoking analysis of a complex historical issue

12

What's The Strange Career of Jim Crow about?

This groundbreaking book examines the history of racial segregation in the United States and challenges the prevailing belief that it was an inevitable outcome of the Civil War. C. Vann Woodward traces the origins and development of Jim Crow laws and reveals the complex and often contradictory forces that shaped the system of racial discrimination. Through meticulous research and compelling analysis, the book sheds light on the deep-rooted racial tensions that continue to impact American society.

Who should read The Strange Career of Jim Crow?

  • Anyone interested in American history, particularly the history of racial segregation
  • Students, scholars, and academics studying civil rights, social justice, or African American history
  • Readers looking to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and impact of Jim Crow laws

13
Social Justice Books: The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Devil's Highway

Luis Alberto Urrea
A True Story

What's The Devil's Highway about?

The Devil's Highway is a gripping non-fiction book that tells the harrowing true story of a group of Mexican immigrants who attempt to cross the treacherous desert terrain known as "The Devil's Highway" in search of a better life in the United States. Through meticulous research and powerful storytelling, author Luis Alberto Urrea sheds light on the human cost of immigration and the complex issues surrounding the US-Mexico border. It is a compelling and thought-provoking read that challenges our perceptions and sparks important conversations about immigration policy and the plight of those seeking a better future.

Who should read The Devil's Highway?

  • Readers who are interested in immigration issues and the challenges faced by migrants
  • Those who enjoy narrative nonfiction and compelling storytelling
  • Individuals who seek a deeper understanding of the human experience and the complexities of the US-Mexico border

14
Social Justice Books: Pushout by Monique W. Morris

Pushout

Monique W. Morris
The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

What's Pushout about?

This book explores the systemic factors that push black girls out of the education system and into the juvenile justice system. Drawing on interviews and research, Monique W. Morris sheds light on the unique challenges and biases faced by black girls in schools, and offers solutions for creating a more inclusive and supportive educational environment. It is a powerful and eye-opening examination of the intersection of race and gender in education.

Who should read Pushout?

  • Parents, educators, and policymakers interested in addressing the school-to-prison pipeline
  • Advocates for social justice and equality
  • Individuals looking to understand and dismantle the systemic biases impacting young Black girls in the education system

15
Social Justice Books: How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi

How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

Moustafa Bayoumi
Being Young and Arab in America

What's How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? about?

This book explores the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans in the post-9/11 United States. Through personal narratives and in-depth analysis, Bayoumi sheds light on the challenges and discrimination faced by these communities, while also offering insights into the complexities of identity and belonging in a society grappling with fear and prejudice. It provides a thought-provoking examination of the impact of racial profiling and the quest for social justice.

Who should read How Does It Feel to Be a Problem??

  • Individuals interested in understanding the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans
  • People who want to expand their knowledge of racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States
  • Readers who enjoy personal narratives that explore identity and belonging in a complex society

16
Social Justice Books: Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain by Zaretta Lynn Hammond

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain

Zaretta Lynn Hammond
Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

What's Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain about?

This book explores the intersection of neuroscience and culturally responsive teaching, offering practical strategies for educators to create an inclusive and engaging learning environment for all students. Drawing on research and real-life examples, Zaretta Lynn Hammond provides insights into how students' cultural backgrounds and experiences can impact their learning, and offers tools to help teachers leverage this knowledge to support their students' academic success. It is a valuable resource for educators looking to enhance their teaching practices and promote equity in the classroom.

Who should read Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain?

  • Educators who want to create a more inclusive and supportive classroom environment
  • Individuals interested in understanding how cultural backgrounds impact learning and behavior
  • Teachers looking for practical strategies to engage students from diverse backgrounds

17
Social Justice Books: Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

Enrique's Journey

Sonia Nazario

What's Enrique's Journey about?

This non-fiction book follows the true story of a Honduran boy named Enrique, who embarks on a dangerous and arduous journey to reunite with his mother in the United States. Through vivid storytelling and in-depth research, the author sheds light on the harsh realities faced by undocumented immigrants and the complex issues surrounding immigration. It is a compelling and eye-opening account of one boy's quest for a better life.

Who should read Enrique's Journey?

  • Readers who are curious about the experiences of immigrants and the challenges they face
  • Individuals interested in stories of resilience and determination
  • People looking for a thought-provoking narrative that raises awareness about immigration issues

18
Social Justice Books: $2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin

$2.00 a Day

Kathryn J. Edin
Living on Almost Nothing in America

What's $2.00 a Day about?

This book explores the lives of families living in extreme poverty in the United States, surviving on just $2.00 a day. Through in-depth interviews and research, the author sheds light on the harsh realities and challenges faced by these families, and offers potential solutions to address this pressing issue. It provides a thought-provoking examination of poverty and its impact on individuals and society.

Who should read $2.00 a Day?

  • Individuals who are interested in understanding the challenges faced by those living in extreme poverty
  • Researchers and policymakers studying inequality and social welfare systems
  • Advocates and activists working to address poverty and improve living conditions for marginalized communities

19
Social Justice Books: A Mighty Long Way by Carlotta Walls LaNier

A Mighty Long Way

Carlotta Walls LaNier
My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School

What's A Mighty Long Way about?

A Mighty Long Way is a memoir by Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Central High School in 1957. LaNier shares her inspiring story of bravery and resilience in the face of intense racial discrimination and violence, and the impact it had on the civil rights movement. It is a powerful account of one woman's fight for equality and the importance of education in breaking down barriers.

Who should read A Mighty Long Way?

  • Individuals interested in learning about the Civil Rights Movement from a personal perspective
  • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal narratives
  • Those who want to gain insights into the experiences of young black students during a pivotal time in history

20
Social Justice Books: Mother Tongue by Jenni Nuttall

Mother Tongue

Jenni Nuttall
The Surprising History of Women's Words

What's Mother Tongue about?

Mother Tongue explores the history and evolution of the English language, delving into its origins and the influences that have shaped it over time. From the impact of other languages to the development of regional dialects, Jenni Nuttall provides a fascinating insight into the rich and diverse nature of our mother tongue. This book is a celebration of language and an exploration of the ways in which it reflects and shapes our world.

Who should read Mother Tongue?

  • Language enthusiasts looking to explore the complexities of their native tongue
  • Linguistics students and professionals seeking a deeper understanding of language structure
  • Writers and educators interested in the power and influence of language on culture and society

21
Social Justice Books: Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Biased

Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

What's Biased about?

In "Biased," Jennifer L. Eberhardt, a renowned social psychologist, explores the pervasive nature of racial bias in our society. Drawing on her own research and real-life examples, she uncovers the unconscious ways in which bias influences our thoughts, actions, and decisions. Eberhardt also offers insights on how we can work towards overcoming these biases and creating a more just and equitable world. This thought-provoking book challenges readers to confront their own biases and consider the impact they have on individuals and communities.

Who should read Biased?

  • Individuals interested in understanding the impact of bias on their own thinking and actions
  • Professionals working in fields such as psychology, sociology, or criminal justice
  • Anyone seeking to foster a more inclusive and fair society

22
Social Justice Books: Black Marxism by Cedric J. Robinson

Black Marxism

Cedric J. Robinson
The Making of the Black Radical Tradition

What's Black Marxism about?

Black Marxism explores the history and development of Marxist thought within the context of black radicalism. Cedric J. Robinson challenges traditional Marxist interpretations and argues that the experiences of black people have been central to the development of capitalist societies. This groundbreaking book offers a unique perspective on the intersection of race, class, and capitalism.

Who should read Black Marxism?

  • Readers interested in the intersection of race, class, and capitalism
  • Scholars and academics studying Marxist theory and its applications
  • Individuals seeking a critical analysis of historical black struggles for liberation

What's Feminism Is for Everybody about?

Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks is a powerful book that aims to demystify the concept of feminism and make it accessible to all. It provides a clear and concise overview of feminist theory and highlights the ways in which feminism benefits everyone, regardless of gender. Through personal anecdotes and insightful analysis, hooks challenges misconceptions and invites readers to join the fight for gender equality.

Who should read Feminism Is for Everybody?

  • Individuals who want to understand the core concepts of feminism
  • People looking to challenge and deconstruct societal gender norms and stereotypes
  • Readers seeking insightful and thought-provoking discussions on intersectionality and inclusivity within feminism

24
Social Justice Books: Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

Heartland

Sarah Smarsh
A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

What's Heartland about?

Heartland is a memoir by Sarah Smarsh that explores her upbringing in rural Kansas and the challenges faced by working-class families in America. Through personal anecdotes and social commentary, Smarsh delves into issues such as poverty, healthcare, and education, offering a poignant and thought-provoking examination of the American heartland.

Who should read Heartland?

  • Those interested in a personal narrative about growing up in rural America
  • Readers who want to gain insights into social and economic inequality
  • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by working-class families

25
Social Justice Books: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Judith L. Raiskin

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys, Judith L. Raiskin

What's Wide Sargasso Sea about?

Wide Sargasso Sea is a novel by Jean Rhys that serves as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Set in Jamaica, it tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole woman who becomes the first wife of Mr. Rochester. The book explores themes of colonialism, racial inequality, and the oppression of women.

Who should read Wide Sargasso Sea?

  • Individuals interested in reimagined literary classics
  • Readers who appreciate complex and psychologically rich characters
  • Those who enjoy exploring themes of race, identity, and power in colonial settings

26
Social Justice Books: Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol

Savage Inequalities

Jonathan Kozol

What's Savage Inequalities about?

Savage Inequalities (1991) by Jonathan Kozol explores the stark differences in funding and resources between public schools in affluent and low-income communities in the United States. Through extensive research and personal anecdotes, Kozol sheds light on the systemic inequalities that perpetuate educational disadvantage for marginalized students.

Who should read Savage Inequalities?

  • Individuals interested in understanding and addressing educational inequality
  • Teachers, educators, and policymakers seeking insights into the challenges facing underprivileged schools
  • Students and scholars studying social justice, poverty, and education

27
Social Justice Books: Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle

Arc of Justice

Kevin Boyle

What's Arc of Justice about?

Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle is a gripping account of racial injustice and the fight for civil rights in early 20th century America. Set in Detroit in 1925, the book tells the true story of Dr. Ossian Sweet, an African American man who was charged with murder after defending his family against a violent white mob. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Boyle sheds light on the complexities of race relations and the legal system during this tumultuous time.

Who should read Arc of Justice?


28
Social Justice Books: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped

Jesmyn Ward

What's Men We Reaped about?

Men We Reaped is a powerful memoir by Jesmyn Ward that explores the lives and deaths of five young men in her community. Through deeply personal stories and reflections, Ward delves into the systemic issues of racism, poverty, and lack of opportunity that contributed to their untimely deaths. It is a poignant and thought-provoking examination of the impact of social and economic inequality on individuals and families.

Who should read Men We Reaped?

  • Anyone seeking to understand the systemic issues impacting black communities in America
  • Readers who are interested in exploring themes of race, poverty, and resilience
  • Individuals who appreciate memoirs and personal storytelling

29
Social Justice Books: White Rage by Carol Anderson

White Rage

Carol Anderson

What's White Rage about?

White Rage by Carol Anderson explores the history of systematic oppression and resistance against African Americans in the United States. From the Reconstruction era to the present day, the book examines how policies and actions have been used to maintain white supremacy and hinder black progress. It offers a thought-provoking analysis of the deep-rooted racial inequality in America.

Who should read White Rage?


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