|photo: James Azar Salem
Tiffany Jewell is a black biracial writer, anti-racist Montessori educator and consultant. She is cofounder of #AntiRacistBookClub, an Instagram campaign that recommends anti-racist books. This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work (now available from Francis Lincoln/Quarto) is her first book for children and young adults.
On your nightstand now:
It's an ambitious stack... always. I usually (try to) read multiple books at once.
Black Appetite. White Food. by Jamila Lyiscott
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeomo Oluo
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (available in March)
There There by Tommy Orange
Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World by Cleo Wade
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
Favorite book when you were a child:
I loved A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. I feel like it was the first book I could relate to--our family was me, my sister and our mom. My nana was a big part of our daily life too, just like the girl in the book. I also loved the illustrations and would get lost in them... I wanted that big rose chair. It was also a Reading Rainbow read and I really took those recommendations to heart!
Your top five authors:
Book you've faked reading:
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and about half of the books I was required to read for my English degree. I really was not interested.
Recently friends from #DisruptTexts reminded me that the literary canon is a social construction that is disproportionately comprised of mostly books written by dead white European men... hence why I wasn't interested in reading many of them. It's hard to stick with a book when you cannot relate to it at all.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. This is the book I recommend to anyone and everyone. It so clearly walks us through understanding racial identity development (in all people) and gives us the language and the research to support racial literacy with all children and families.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The U.K. version of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bendele. It's absolutely beautiful.
Book that changed your life:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley.
It was assigned reading for a freshman seminar while at a small women's college in upstate New York. The professor offered to the class a choice: we could read The Autobiography of Malcolm X or watch Thelma & Louise. (This was an English seminar titled "Failure and Success in America.") Most of my classmates chose Thelma & Louise.
I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X over the course of two days that summer. Until then, I had only heard about him as being divisive and an advocate for violence. His words (as told to Alex Haley) told me the story of his life I had not known and really pushed me to seek truth.
Favorite line from a book:
One that has stuck with me recently: "Somewhere inside me there must be an inherited wisdom from my ancestors since I can muster up the ability to play roles that offer guidance and strength." --from Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan.
Five books you'll never part with:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race
Caucasia by Danzy Senna
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Danielle Daniel
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Danzy Senna's Caucasia. It was the first book in which I really saw myself. The sisters looked like us. Their family make-up was similar to ours. I read it in my early 20s but I shouldn't have had to wait so long. The moment when I saw myself in a book--I think I read the whole thing while holding my breath.
Books you love sharing with children:
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
The ABCs of the Black Panther Party by S. Khalilah Brann and Chemay Morales-James, illus. by Uela May
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown