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Social Justice Book List - Anti-Racism - Middle Grade Books

Posted on: June 15, 2020

Betty Before X

Betty Before X

by Ilyasah Shabazz & Renée Watson

A New York Public Library Best Children’s Book of 2018
A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2018
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.

Inspired by Betty’s real life — but expanded upon and fictionalized through collaboration with novelist Renée Watson — Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood with this book, painting an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.

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