At Well Done, we don’t just talk about making the world a better place—we do everything in our power to be an active part of that positive change. Right now, it’s more important than ever that we face the world’s challenges head on. There’s nothing we like better.

A few months ago, we introduced you to our latest advocacy-based passion project: The Well Done Banned Books Book Club. Try saying that five times fast.

But we aren’t just reading these books. We’re learning from them, advocating for them, and getting them into the hands of people who may otherwise never read them. No, this isn’t your average book club.

The Book

Our first book, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is about Starr Carter, a young girl who witnesses her friend Khalil being shot by the police and the fallout that comes after. Would-be censors have repeatedly challenged the book for its language, drug use, and anti-police messaging.

We Started with a Discussion

Once we read the book, we had a group discussion where we not only talked about our reactions to the book and important themes but also challenged ourselves to look at our own experiences and how we could actively be more anti-racist. We looked at how the affluent and privileged characters in the book handled Khalil’s murder versus how Starr and her family reacted, and we had an open and honest discussion about how police violence and the subsequent media narratives around Black victims have impacted us and our society. We challenged ourselves to examine instances of racism that we’ve seen, confronting our own responses to it, and how we could better advocate for victims of prejudice and racism.

We Jumped Into Action

We created two alternative covers led by our interpretations of the book and highlighted the themes we thought were important. Our first cover focused on the media narrative behind Khalil’s character, noting how he was labeled as a thug and a gangster simply because of the color of his skin. The thug narrative defined Khalil from the moment he was born. Years of prejudice and racism led the media to predetermine Khalil’s identity, regardless of how his life would have actually turned out.

With our second cover, we emphasized the geography throughout the book, and Starr’s inner struggle navigating two different worlds—and the code-switching required of her to fit in to each environment. The title of the book in this design intentionally fractures the composition, dividing the neighborhoods and communities in two and visually pitting them against one another.

The Next Chapter

We’re going to continue reading banned books, and in December we’ll start reading our next book, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. We’ll celebrate books with complex histories both in subject matter and in censorship—books for, by, and about people whose stories are so often sidelined. And we’ll keep having hard discussions while challenging our own views and biases, learning from what we’ve read and sharing what we’ve learned with you.

But our work is just beginning, especially in times like these. There are people in this world who want to keep these books from us, people who think that challenging the preset narrative of our country is wrong.

But at Well Done, we love a good challenge. Especially in the interest of making our world a more just and equitable place for all. And listen, we know that just reading books might not change the world, but they will inspire change in us. And that’s what this project is all about: changing us, and maybe you, for the better.