Reviews /

Stand Up and Speak Out Against Racism

Authored by Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Illustrated by Aleesha Nandhra
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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Stand Up and Speak Out Against Racism provides a useful resource for students, teachers and parents in KS2 and lower KS3. Wonderfully illustrated and carefully structured, this book introduces what racism is, what it sometimes looks like, how it might make people feel and how we can all be better and kinder people in interactions in our lives.

The narrative tone reads more for younger readers although the content would be more than suitable for a wider range of young readers. Sometimes the voice of the ‘narrator’ felt as if it was speaking to very young readers and this may make some older readers feel a little bit spoken down to, which is a shame as the message is important for a range of children in school or community environments.

This aside, the book is a must for classrooms and school libraries as it handles many of the incidents that individuals face or inadvertently find themselves perpetrating; it’s particularly kind in its way of encouraging readers to engage and grow through reflection.

The book is at its strongest as a guide for children who might be facing racist situations providing them with language and strategies for staying safe while showing how hurtful someone’s racism might be. It provides an exploration of structural racism, highlighting to the young recipient of racist incidents that they are not to blame for how people see them or respond to them. But this also allows all readers to engage with how the past may influence behaviour and interactions and cause them to think about their words and their actions.

Throughout, the author provides trigger warnings and reminders to ‘take a break’ as content perhaps becomes overwhelming. I also found myself reflecting through each chapter: a testament to a book that really achieved what it set out to do.

The book’s focus on kindness and inclusivity mean that it deals with a powerful subject in an engaging and sensitive way.