Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s newest trustee is a university researcher and passionate advocate for educational equity. We asked her what she’s been reading – and her list demonstrates that reading is a family affair!
Sticky books, those I’ve read in the past year that I think about all the time:
- Race After Technology, by Ruha Benjamin—A brilliant book that interrogates the relationship between technology and race.
- Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, by Ben Montgomery—A biography that serves as a reminder of the greatness that lives in all of us, and, the power of long walks to personal transformation.
- Children of the Dream, by Rucker C. Johnson—An important policy analysis that is well cited and readable, with compelling arguments to educational policies we could enact that would truly transform the lives of children and communities.
- The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson—A beautifully crafted story of struggling towards belonging within a forgotten chapter of our history.
- The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman—An epic story that crosses cultures and continents, while centering the life of a mother and the ripples of her decisions to later generations.
- Of Blood and Bone series (1,2,&3), by Nora Roberts—This may not be the best book series to read during a global pandemic (it’s about a global pandemic with a much higher death rate than COVID-19), but it is incredibly entertaining.
- No Walls and the Recurring Dream, by Ani DiFranco—Autobiography of a cultural icon who has made her own rules, on her own terms, and inspired generations in the process.
- The Good Neighbor, by Maxwell King—Biography of the life of Mr. Rogers. I smile just thinking about this book.
- A Study in Scarlet Women, by Sherry Thomas—Incredibly entertaining detective story, with Sherlock Holmes reimagined as a woman that defies boundaries.
Important books I’ve reread this year to make sure I internalize the content:
- Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte 1875-1975, 2nd edition, by Tom Hanchett (note: local author)—An important history of how and when Charlotte segregated (spoiler alert: its not what we think).
- Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, by Patricia Hill Collins—I first read this book in 2001 and it fundamentally changed my worldview. I intentionally reread sections every year to make sure I keep Collins’ voice clear in my mind.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander (make sure to read the 10-year anniversary edition that includes a new forward). Another book I first years ago that is so important I revisit frequently. If you read one non-fiction book this year, make it this one.
Books I’m currently reading:
- Children of Blood and Bone (audiobook), by Tomi Adeyemi
- Me and White Supremacy (audiobook), by Layla F. Saad (note: this is a guided reflection, so it should take about a month to read & reflect)
- We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, by Bettina L. Love
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling (note: I’m always reading this. Some people watch Hallmark movies when they are blue. I read Harry Potter as needed).
Books I’ve Recently Read with my 6-year old:
- Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan— Both of my kids are in dual language schools so it’s a win to read a book with a good mix of Spanish words and Latinx culture. This book is beautifully written historical fiction with a strong female protagonist that undergoes tremendous personal transformation. We’ve read this in English and listened to it in Spanish.
- Riding Freedom, by Pam Muñoz Ryan—Another strong female protagonist, based on a real historical figure. An entertaining read with an inspiring main character.
- Frindle, by Andrew Clements—A delightful story of a prank that went astray, and a teacher who taught her students to delight in the study of words.
Books I’ve Recently Read with my 3-year old:
- Ladybug Girl, by Jacky Davis—We have several of these and they are all delightful stories with beautiful illustrations, whimsical storylines, and lovable characters.
- One Word from Sophia, by Jim Averbeck—A story about a girl who learns the power of data and narrative to persuade.
- Counting With – Contando Con Frida, by Patty Rodriguez—A bilingual counting book that focuses on Frida Kahlo.
- Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller—A beautifully illustrated book that asks important questions about kindness and how we can be kind.
Amy Hawn Nelson is Research Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice, and serves as the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, an initiative that focuses on the development, use, and innovation of integrated data systems (IDS) for policy analysis and program improvement. Prior to joining AISP in 2017, Dr. Hawn Nelson was the Director of Social Research for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Director of the Institute for Social Capital, an IDS charged with supporting university research and enhancing data-informed decision-making in the Charlotte region. Prior to entering the world of integrated data in 2012, Hawn Nelson served as a teacher and school leader for 11 years. She is a community engaged researcher generally focusing on intersectional topics related to educational equity. Amy and husband Allen are proud graduates of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and live in Charlotte with Fincher and Emory (CMS Class of 2032 and 2035) and Archie (woof!).