A lot has been happening over the last few weeks as citizens participate in Black Lives Matter protests locally and across the world. Click here to read an official statement from our Library Director, Peter Bromberg. In light of these events, we wanted to lift up black voices with this list of great books that you can use to educate and inspire yourself. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and The City Library has many more titles to help you research and understand the history that has brought us to this moment.
Reading literature has been proven to make people more empathetic, so we hope by reading about people who might look differently than you or have a different life experience you can then empathize with what others are going through right now. These books are all own-voices. For those unfamiliar with the term, own-voices means that every one of these authors writing about Black characters is also Black. Some authors are Afro-Latino, some are Nigerian, some are Queer, but all authors listed below are Black.
We hope you are taking care of yourselves and finding the resources you need to cope right now. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Dread Nation (and its recently-published sequel The Deathless Divide) by Justina Ireland
Imagine if the Civil War ended not because of the Emancipation Proclamation and the South surrendering, but because the dead of Gettysburg came back as “shamblers” (zombies) and began infesting the world. Instead of being granted their freedom, Black people are being forced to fight the shamblers, and the South has devolved into separate militarized city-state fortresses free to rule however they want. There’s talk of freedom in the West, but the Native populations of the west have been decimated after also being forced to fight the shamblers, so all anyone hears are rumors. It might be an alternate history, but the ramifications are shockingly realistic and events are eerily similar to our own. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone, and pay attention to Ireland’s Author’s Notes. The book might not be realistic fiction, but many, many events Ireland discussed are based in reality.
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
All American Boys - Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely
Dear Martin - Nic Stone
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America
Tyler Johnson Was Here - Jay Coles
I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This - Jacqueline Woodson
Field Guide to the North American Teenager - Ben Philippe
America Street - Ibi Zoboi
Hurricane Child - Kacen Callender
The Poet X - Elizabeth Acevedo
Let Me Hear a Rhyme - Tiffany D Jackson
Odd One Out - Nic Stone
The Crossover - Kwame Alexander
Watch Us Rise - Ellen Hagan, Renee Watson
Felix Ever After - Kacen Callender
A Good Kind of Trouble - Lisa Moore Ramée
March - John Lewis
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet - Ta-Nehisi Coates
New Kid - Jerry Craft
Bingo Love - Tee Franklin
Fantasy / Sci Fi
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton
Children of Blood and Bone - Tomi Adiyemi
Dread Nation - Justina Ireland
Miles Morales - Jason Reynolds
Pet - Akwaeke Emezi
Adult for Teens
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
How Long ‘til Black Future Month - NK Jemison
Kindred - Octavia Butler
Queen of the Conquered - Kacen Callender
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Mama Day - Gloria Naylor
Crossing Ebenezer Creek - Tonya Bolden
Inventing Victoria - Tonya Bolden
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred D Taylor
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis
Passing - Nella Larsen
Flygirl - Sherri L Smith
Riot - Walter Dean Myers
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
All Boys Aren’t Blue - George M Johnson
Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls - Tonya Bolden
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson
Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow - Henry Louis Gates Jr
*Find these and more titles in our City Library catalog.
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