6 Books That Should be on Your Back to School Reading List

iMentor has more than 160 full-time staff members who are committed to student success, educational equity, and the pursuit of knowledge to support our mission. As our students and mentors acclimate back into the rhythms of school life and weekly collaboration, we are taking this opportunity to share a few of our “back to school” recommendations for our volunteers and champions. Here are six suggested books to increase understanding of equity in America and the structures impacting learning and our education systems.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Piecing Me Together is about a mentoring relationship where the mentor and the mentee build a relationship finding similarities and differences with each other. Sound familiar? It’s a beautifully written story about race, privilege, and identity that I think mentors and mentees could relate to.

SOAR: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character by David Banks
I first learned about this book at a conference where I heard the author, David Banks, speak. He spoke about his reasons for opening a school for boys in the South Bronx after he was incarcerated. His story is inspiring, hopeful, and is targeted towards our young men of color. This would be great read for any of our students or mentors who are working with a young man in our program.

Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele
Whistling Vivaldi dives into a subject that has a lot of relevance for our students, mentors, and anyone interested in higher education. The book explores the way negative stereotypes in everyday society (like the old stereotype that “women are bad at math”) actually affect performance. It is an eye-opening read for anyone who wants to better understand the pervasive stereotypes that students of color face, and the impact they have on educational opportunity.

The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century by Grace Lee Boggs
This book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that collectively constitute the next American Revolution. It explains politics, sociology, and economics in very accessible terms. It’s a digestible way to process injustice and why it happens.

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
This coming-of-age novel may be labeled as Young Adult, but I definitely recommend it for all our mentors and community members, no matter their age. It is a story about a Latina high school student as she struggles with grief, high school, family expectations, and cultural norms as she plans for her future in Chicago. It might be fiction, but the themes throughout are true, and highly relatable for any of our students.

Silencing the Past by Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Silencing the Past is an analysis of how society creates historical narratives, of what is omitted and what is recorded, what is remembered and what is forgotten, and what these silences reveal about inequalities of power. It’s crucial for our mentors and champions to understand how these narratives are created and what they mean for the people who are oppressed. This book implores a re-evaluation of the knowledge we claim to know and ultimately, it will help people understand how our present-day educational system came to be and who it serves.

What books are you reading right now? Let us know on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. If you buy any of these books from these AmazonSmile links, Amazon will donate a percentage of the proceeds to support iMentor!