At Stand Colorado, we have been deeply committed to improving literacy outcomes for Colorado students for a decade. That's why we love any opportunity to elevate both the importance and joy of reading. This National Reading Month, our team shared their recommendations for books. You’ll find books authored by women of color, books about women in history, books for adults, and for kids! We hope you enjoy!
American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti
"Maybe it is because I am a community organizer, but I love reading people’s stories in their own words. American Gypsy is the memoir of Oksana Marafioti, who emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States when she was in high school. Maybe it is because I am a community organizer, but I love reading people’s stories in their own words. Oksana’s story is one that is both quirky and familiar—about wrestling with identity and fitting in, about family, about America and the magic of individually wrapped slices of cheese. It reminds me of another woman author I admire, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who offers in her TedTalk that we should reject the idea that anyone has a single story, (really, watch the TedTalk, it’s great!), and in the same way, Oksana’s story reminds me that there is no single immigrant story and no single American story.”
Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
“Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks has been a guidepost, lighthouse, touchstone for me since reading it as a senior in college."
Frankenstein (1818 edition) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
“"It was one of those rare novels that comes into your life at the exact right time, making reading therapeutic. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is remembered for being a staunch, fearless feminist, which was revolutionary at the beginning of the 19th Century. Her most famous work, Frankenstein, is a fantastic literary work that is now regarded as a horror classic. Contrary to what some might remember about the 1950s Hollywood reinvention of Frankenstein, this novel is not about a mumbling zombie who mindlessly seeks to destroy everything he comes across; it’s a story about a young scientist named Frankenstein who creates a sentient, speaking undead being at great personal cost to himself and his own blind ambition. It’s a powerful allegory about the human experience, monsters, family relationships, and ambition.”
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
“This book is a great escape from reality back into high school. It was amazing to get to see a multi-racial household and be able to see myself in Lara Jean. Great read for young adults.”
Becoming by Michelle Obama
"This book lifted up how much women can accomplish when afforded educational opportunities, access to higher education and instilled sense of community. The most impactful quote for me was, ‘If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.’”
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Following her story helped me see how we rarely see outside of our small worlds to understand others’ experiences and left me wanting to lean in to listening, seeing, and embracing how we all got to where we are today. I take for granted that everyone around me understand the context of what I am referencing or what got us to the point where we are today. It is well worth my time to slow down and hear how what I am sharing is impacting those around me.”
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
“Through this beautiful book, we’ve been able to have conversations about many topics including segregation and why Katherine couldn’t attend the school in her town, math, and what we are passionate about.”
Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor
“My two year old son loves this book. It focuses on teaching children to embrace our differences and the things that make us unique. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, shares her personal experience growing up with diabetes and challenges she faced. This book encourages children to explore differences together and embrace them rather than fearing or ignoring them.”
Eve’s Seed by Robert McElvaine
“This book is empowering! It’s a cerebral take on celebrating the goddess. It gave me a completely new lens to reexamine history and the power dynamics of the binary gender system. Eve’s Seed took a multidisciplinary and wholistic approach to explain how the socially constructed roles of women and men evolved. I often reflect back on what I learned from this book when thinking about our current socio-political climate.”
We highly recommend you shop at local, Black-owned book stores when possible. Check out Tattered Cover, a Black owned franchise in Denver!