I listened to the audiobook version of Stamped, read by the author Jason Reynolds. I don’t know if I could have gotten into this book as a regular printed book, but I loved the audiobook! Jason Reynolds’ narration style is engaging and powerful. Emotional, disturbing, and absolutely heart-wrenching.
The authors state that this is “not a history book,” but it most certainly contains history. It isn’t history most of us have heard. It doesn’t glorify America’s founding fathers, including those our history holds as non-racist like Abraham Lincoln.
THE SHORT VERSION
Eye-opening and engaging.
WHAT I LIKED
I am writing this review just days after an arrest was made in the Ahmoud Arbery shooting in Georgia back in February. Reading the comments on news articles, most people call out the shooting for what it was: a violent, racist, and completely unnecessary act. But there are other comments, too. Comments from people who support the father and son who killed Arbery. Who believe there must be more to the story. Who think Arbery must have done something wrong and deserved to be shot.
People who think racism doesn’t exist anymore are ignorant and blind. Books like Stamped aren’t just about our history. They aren’t just about slavery or our past from 150 years ago. This book is about our present, too. It starts out with ancient history and goes right up to the 1980s with Reagan’s “War on Drugs” and into the 90s with the Rodney King beating. These are not events that happened in our distant past. The shooting of Ahmoud Arbery just happened in February.
Until our collective history acknowledges our ugly past, we will never be able to look forward to a future of racial equality.
The audiobook is fantastic! I don’t know any secondary school librarian right now who doesn’t have at least a tiny crush on Jason Reynolds. He’s an author-rockstar who many of us (myself included!) hope to meet in-person one day. Reynolds’ narration style is enthusiastic and easy to follow. I found myself reluctant to turn off the audiobook because it was so interesting.
I love books that show different perspectives on the American history story we were taught in school. This book, and others like it, make me angry and ashamed on my ancestors and current white “leaders.” I am thankful books like this one finally exist because knowing the truth is at least a start to righting so many wrongs.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There was nothing I didn’t like. The book was engaging, informative, and made me emotional. I can see why this received numerous starred reviews.
High. This book is about American history, particularly anti-black racism in America.
LIBRARIANS WILL WANT TO KNOW
Themes: racism, prejudice, civil rights, lynching, murder, anti-Black violence
Would adults like this book? YES. This is the YA version, but it’s based on a book for adults, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. Take your pick!
Would I buy this for my high school library? 1000% YES
Would I buy this for my middle school library?: Yes! Booklist, Kirkus, and SLJ all recommend Grades 7-12.
Language: I do not remember any profanity. I don’t remember any use of the “N” word, either, though it may have been there. It’s harder for me to notice potential language concerns when the audiobook is so engaging.
Violence: Racism, lynching, murders. None are gory or described in detail.
Other: I have lived almost my entire life in the American South. I was a teacher and school librarian in Texas for 13 years before moving overseas. Depending on your location, some library patrons–particularly those in Southern US states–may find this book inflammatory. You should absolutely still get this book for your library. It’s an important book to have on all secondary school library shelves, but some school administrations and/or patrons may take issue with the content or deem it too “incendiary” for a public school. Know your audience and community, and be ready to defend the book if necessary.
BOOKTALK OR DISPLAY THIS WITH:
Have you read Stamped? What did you think?