The Root's Holiday Book Guide

Gift ideas for adults, teens and kids.


Books are fool-proof gifts. Not just because they virtually last forever, unlike that fruitcake or sweater that shrinks after one wash, but also because they're affordable in these tough economic times. And, just think, you can take care of everyone on your list with one trip to your local bookstore. That alone should relieve some of the pressure of getting through this holiday season.

There really is a book for everyone and especially for the person who has everything. To get you started, here are some ideas for adults, young people and children.

For the history buff:

The Essential Writings of James Weldon Johnson
Edited by Rudolph P. Byrd
Modern Library, October 2008

Although he's most widely known as the co-writer of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Negro national anthem, Johnson jumped around genres. This new collection illustrates his artistic range and provides fascinating historical insight into the convergence of arts and politics. It's perfect for anyone who believes that we have to know where we've been to understand where we're going.

For the educator:

In this collection of letters to parents, educators, community leaders, young people, citizens and everyone in between, the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) offers her sage advice about what it will take for us to build a nation fit for all children. If that's not enough incentive to pick it up, then know that all of the book's royalties will be donated to the CDF.

For the ambitious:

Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown and Company, November 2008

The New Yorker staff writer returns with his unique investigative narrative style to tackle a topic near and dear to many, but perhaps more simple and complex than any of us expected. While he doesn't present the elusive keys to success, at least the book is stocked with interesting facts that one can throw around to impress people.

For the cultural enthusiast:

The Black List
By Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Elvis Mitchell
Atria, September 2008

Assembling a diverse cast of 25 successful black folk from varying backgrounds and fields is no easy feat. That accomplishment alone makes this title a keepsake. But it's the remarkable stories of struggle and triumph that will make this compilation a treasured testament to the human spirit.

For the activist: