Read Woke Challenge

Diverse Reading

The “Read Woke” Challenge was created by Cicely Lewis, a teacher, writer, librarian, and Person of Color with a “passion for promoting literacy in nontraditional ways” at the Meadowcreek High School Media Center in Norcross, Georgia, where she works. She was recently chosen as School Library Journal‘s 2020 School Librarian of the Year.  In the READ WOKE Challenge on Beanstack, readers earn badges for completing books written by authors of various marginalized  communities.

The Library will focus on one disenfranchised group each month, suggesting reads of all genres that educate about the experience of that particular community. We invite you to follow along with a book of your choosing each month, or read at your own pace, and proceed in any order you like. The book doesn’t need to be from one of the lists we share; simply log your woke reads in Beanstack to earn badges that signify your commitment to exploring books with viewpoints and voices that differ from your own.

So what makes a book woke? Lewis determined that a Woke Book should be by and about marginalized persons, and must:

  • Challenge a social norm;
  • Give voice to the voiceless;
  • Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised;
  • Seek to challenge the status quo;
  • Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group.

In Lewis’s words: “Read Woke is a movement. It is a feeling. It is a style. It is a form of education. It is a call to action; it is our right as lifelong learners. It means arming yourself with knowledge in order to better protect your rights. Knowledge is power and no one can take it away. It means learning about others so that you can treat people with the respect and dignity that they deserve no matter their religion, race, creed, or color.” Unlike our Summer Reading program, this will be a year-round Challenge – and, we hope, a lifelong habit for our patrons, our community, and country. You can register for the READ WOKE Challenge on your Beanstack dashboard and peruse suggested reading lists and the different Activity Badges you will earn.

Need book suggestions?

The York Public Library librarians have used the Read Woke online resources to put together lists featuring a sample of notable books from our collection. Each month we will post book lists for all ages, exploring one of the ten voices from Cicely’s Read Woke challenge.