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Without a doubt, one of the most pressing conversations to be had in classrooms this fall is about race, justice and equity. Reading up on these subjects is fundamental.

So we reached out to local authors, librarians, bookshop staff and experts on race to ask them about what tops their recommended reading lists on these topics, with students, educators and families in mind.

Among my summer reading books were "Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism" by former Pittsfield High School Principal Tracey A. Benson and Sarah E. Fiarman; "The Undefeated" by Kwame Alexander and "Pashmina" a graphic novel by Nidhi Chanani.

Here's what our experts suggest:

Recommended by local children's book author and literacy advocate Ty Allan Jackson:

What's one of your recommended books?

"Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons For Our Own" by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Ph.D.

Recommended age group(s):

This book is for adults.

Why is this a must-read?

Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. is one of the more brilliant voices in Black America. In this book, he takes the lessons of the great James Baldwin and applies them to the tone of today's American. It is powerful, uplifting and a necessary work to better comprehend how we got here and more importantly how we can overcome.

Recommended by Gwendolyn VanSant, BRIDGE chief executive officer and founding director:

What's one of your recommended books?

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

Recommended age group(s):

Middle and high school

W hy is this a must-read?

This gives a perspective on violence on young Black men and an insight into a family that faces systemic and cultural injustice.

Also recommended: For faculty: I highly recommend "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race," 20th-anniversary edition, by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. Every educator and administrator would benefit from the education in this book on racial identity development, education and our true U.S. History.

Recommended by book group coordinator Tim Oberg of The Bookloft in Great Barrington:

What's one of your recommended books?

"The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921" by Tim Madigan

Recommended age group(s):

Best for high school readers

W hy is this a must-read?

Fans of the "Watchmen" graphic novel may have seen HBO's big budget series that recently received 26 Emmy nominations (the most of any TV series this year!). The very first episode traces superhero trauma and lineage back to the historical massacre in Tulsa in 1921, which, for nearly 80 years, was unjustly underreported or seldom ever talked about. Dive into this gripping non-fiction tragedy that's told like a compelling narrative thriller.

Recommended by Alex Reczkowski, library director of the Berkshire Athenaeum:

What's one of your recommended books?

"Antiracist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Recommended age group(s):

This book is for everyone!

W hy is this a must-read?

We have a lot of work to do on anti-racism, and this book has been helpful in reminding me that we have to crawl before we walk, so to speak. Dismantling racism is a marathon, and when I need some encouragement to keep trudging on; this little book does the trick.

Also recommended by you, selections from our readers:

For everyone:

"All of the works by Ty Allan Jackson," says Marilyn Jess

"March," an autobiographical graphic novel series by the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, recommended by Seth Brown

"The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family" by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, recommended by Jeff Nelson

• "Happy to Be Nappy (Jump at the Sun)" by bell hooks; "Birchbark House" series by Louise Erdrich, recommended by Nina Marks

"All books by Innosanto Nagara," says I'in Purwanti

For middle schoolers and up:

"Weedflower" by Cynthia Kadohata, recommended by Tim Rougeau

"Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly; "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" and "We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History" by Phillip Hoose, recommended by Leah Reed

"Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood" by Trevor Noah (youth and adult versions available), recommended by Isaac Huberdeau

"They Called Us Enemy" by George Takei; "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness" by Michelle Alexander; "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning 'Stamped from the Beginning'" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, recommended by Cynthia Brown

"The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving" by Larry Spotted Crow Mann, recommended by Talya Kingston

"Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine, recommended by Alison McGee

For high schoolers and up:

"Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin"; "Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy, Book 1)" by Chinua Achebe, recommended by Roberta McCulloch-Dews

"Anything by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor," says John Prusinski

"Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America" by Nathan McCall; "Race Matters" by Cornel West, recommended by Michael Hinkley

"Black Like Me," by John Howard Griffin, recommended by Leigh Nelson

"How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi, recommended by Maureen Riley Moriarty

"The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir" by Thi Bui, recommended by David Dahari

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo, recommended by Akilah Edgerton

"See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love" by Valerie Kaur, recommended by Elaine Caligiuri

"Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race" by Debby Irving, recommended by Kim Sue

"The Tortilla Curtain" by T.C. Boyle, recommended by Darlene Baisley


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