Cover image for Woke : a young poet's call to justice
Woke : a young poet's call to justice
1st ed.
Physical Description:
55 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm.
A collection of poems to inspire kids to stay woke and become a new generation of activists.


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Stillwater Public Library1On Order



Woke: A Young Poet's Guide to Justice is a collection of poems to inspire kids to stay woke and become a new generation of activists.

Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

With Theodore Taylor's bright, emotional art, and writing from Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, kids will be inspired to create their own art and poems to express how they see justice and injustice.

With a foreword by best-selling author Jason Reynolds.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet and author, born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of The George Washington University with a BA in Performing Arts and the University of Maryland with a MFA in Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post and Teen Vogue. Her work includes Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths, The Poet X, and With the Fire on High. She received several awards for her book The Poet X, a 2018 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature, the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children's Literature, and the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--6--This new book from the team behind Woke Baby introduces concepts and explains issues that concern activists of all ages. These 24 poems celebrate diversity and individuality, touching on issues of gender, physical ability, race, immigration, and protest. The authors recognize the complex web of discrimination and systemic oppression that impacts many marginalized people. The message is clear: We must fight against injustice, and our words can be our greatest source of power. The cover image (a young person of color wearing a pen behind their ear and gazing upward) reflects a hopeful solution: poetry. The poems, written by three different poets, function well (perhaps better) as read-alouds. Their rhythm and natural flow are reminiscent of spoken word poetry, and the way they appear on the page is important. The illustrations resemble the modern, color-saturated, stylized work of graphic novelists like Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson. VERDICT An important book that demands to be seen. It adds to the conversation of #OwnVoices and speaks to a young person's need for expression and social justice.--Shannon O'Connor, Unami Middle School, Chalfont, PA

Publisher's Weekly Review

Following an introduction that defines what it means to be woke, these poems combine clear declarations with easy-to-grasp metaphors to convey progressive values. Privilege is compared to a toolbox ("We can choose/ to use it to help people who don't have what we do") and gender to a rainbow ("There are so many shades between boy and girl"). Each poem's intended value appears next to its page number--including individuality ("Teeth Dance With Silver"), body positivity ("The Good Body"), and ableism ("The Ability to Be"). The text's direct style is matched by Taylor's clear illustrations, notable for their bold lines and bright colors. With its references to figures such as Janet Mock and Trayvon Martin, it's a useful conversation-starter on the topic. Ages 8--12. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

Poets Browne (Black Girl Magic, illustrated by Jess X. Snow, 2018), Acevedo (The Poet X, 2018), and Gatwood (Life of the Party, 2019) team up to offer a collection that calls young readers to awareness and justice. Browne's introduction explains what it means to be woke--"aware of your surroundings"--and connects this awareness to historical movements for justice, stating, "this is where our freedom begins." The poems are assigned subject headings located next to the page numbers, in nearly alphabetical order, for easy access when flipping through this slim volume for inspiration. Some poems cover quiet topics that nourish individuals and relationships, such as body positivity, forgiveness, individuality, and volunteerism. Other poems are louder, calling for lifted voices. In "Activism, Everywhere," Browne writes, "It is resisting to be comfortable / When we all have yet to feel safe and free"; her protest poem, titled "Right To, After Claude McKay," powerfully echoes McKay's historic verses while reversing the premise: "If we must live, let it not be in silence." A resistance poem by Acevedo urges readers to "Rock the Boat," and Gatwood's poem on privilege asks, "What's in My Toolbox?" Identity issues are covered too, with poems on disability, gender, immigration, and intersectionality. Each of the 24 poems is an irresistible invitation to take up space in community and in society, and each is eminently recitable, taking its own place in the spoken-word tradition. Taylor's bold and colorful illustrations complement the poems without distracting from their power; Jason Reynolds contributes a foreword. Read it; gift it; use it to challenge, protect, and grow. (Picture book/poetry. 8-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

What does it mean to be woke? Simply put, "to be WOKE is to understand that equality and justice for some is not equality and justice at all." In this poetry collection, Browne, accompanied by Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, unpacks the weight of social inequities in 23 standalone poems in a variety of forms. Topics include activism, community, joy, prejudice, and resourcefulness, to name a few, blending the hard lines of fighting and resisting injustice with sweet moments of peace in our shared humanity. Aimed toward the middle grades, each poem offers lyrical strength and resolve that will encourage budding activists to develop an ever-important ethical and justice-oriented muscle. Taylor's cartoonlike digital art embraces each poem, though depending on the reader, the strength of the illustrations may at times compete with the text. A title worth adding to any youth poetry collection, Woke will call out to and empower its readers with a reminder that "our voice is our greatest power."