About Read Woke

The Beginning

The Read Woke challenge was developed by Media Specialist Cicely Lewis in Georgia, USA in 2017. Motivated by the political climate in America and seeing students grapple with issues of social injustice on a daily basis, Cicely realised the need for them to be empowered with knowledge. Knowledge about the issues they (and others) face and knowledge about their own rights. Read Woke is a programme to educate through reading. Cicely developed a set of criteria for a book to be considered "woke", and set out to get students reading.
She concluded that a woke book 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

Read more on Cicely's Read Woke website.

South Ayrshire

We have followed this movement with huge interest and are delighted to be able to bring it to Scotland. We passionately believe that every person that walks through our library doors should be able to find books that represent them and we are determined to develop diverse collections within our libraries. We also know that books have power! They provide a gateway to seeing the world through different eyes. Participating in the Read Woke challenge will awaken our students to a range of important issues, enlighten them, and encourage them to think critically and with empathy when forming opinions.

We are grateful to the Scottish Library and Information Council for funding this project through the School Library Improvement Fund. We are running the Read Woke challenge in every secondary school in the authority, and launched our book list in May 2021. Additional titles for the 2021-22 school year were added in November 2021, creating a booklist of 30 books. Participants submit a short book review on completing a book and are rewarded with an exclusive Read Woke pin on reaching the milestones of four and eight books.

Check out our booklist for information on all the books included in the challenge and submit reviews here.