Black History Month Booklist
This Black History Month we know black authors and stories are being challenged across the state and country. These books come from an intersection of black and queer experiences and from children to adult we hope you find a new book to read this month that will expand your horizons, and continue conversations on dismantling systems of oppression.
Black History Month Children's Books
By: Ibram X. Kendi
Illustrated By: Ashley Lukashevsky
Age Level: Baby to 3
About the Book: Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby's nine easy steps for building a more equitable world. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.
Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History
By: Joy Ellison
Illustrated By: Teshika Silver
Age Level: 3-6
About the Book: Sylvia and Marsha are closer than sisters. They are kind and brave and not afraid to speak their truth, even when it makes other people angry. This illustrated book introduces children to the story of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the two transgender women of colour who helped kickstart the Stonewall Riots and dedicated their lives to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. It introduces children to issues surrounding gender identity and diversity, accompanied by a reading guide and teaching materials to further the conversation.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
By: Ellen Levine
Illustrated By: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 4-8
About the Book: Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday -- his first day of freedom.
Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
By: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrated By: Laura Freeman
Age Level: 5-9
About the Book: Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America's past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated By: Jerome Lagarrigue
Age Level: 6-9
About the Book: There were signs all throughout town telling eight-year-old Connie where she could and could not go. But when Connie sees four young men take a stand for equal rights at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, she realizes that things may soon change. This event sparks a movement throughout her town and region. And while Connie is too young to march or give a speech, she helps her brother and sister make signs for the cause. Changes are coming to Connie’s town, but Connie just wants to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split like everyone else.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
By: Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling Illustrated By: Laura Freeman
Age Level: 6-9
About the Book: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
Black History Month Young Adult
All Boys Aren't Blue
By: George M. Johnson
About the Book: In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
By: Akwaeke Emezi
About the Book: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question--How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist? A riveting and timely young adult debut novel that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
Felix Ever After
By: Kacen Callendar
About the Book: Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Nubia: Real One
By: L.L. McKinney
Artist: Robyn Smith
About the Book: Can you be a hero...if society doesn't see you as a person? Nubia has always been a little bit...different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor's cat. But despite her having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she's no Wonder Woman. And even if she were, they wouldn't want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she's reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can't deny the fire within her, even if she's a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst. When Nubia's best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all--her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class--to become the hero society tells her she isn't.
Shuri: A Black Panther Novel
By: Nic Stone
About the Book: Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she's also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can't save them. And their supply is running short. It's up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope
Edited By: Patrice Caldwell
About the Book: Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them. Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.
Black History Month Adult Books
By: Yaa Gyasi
About the Book: Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
The Days of Good Looks: The Prose and Poetry of Cheryl Clarke, 1980 to 2005
By: Cheryl Clarke
About the Book: Lauded by luminaries such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, and Joy Harjo, among others, the work of African American lesbian poet Cheryl Clarke has spoken on behalf of the black, feminist and gay movements for more than 25 years. Her writing has earned her distinction as a contemporary black feminist icon in the tradition of June Jordan. In fact, few writers have tackled hot-button issues of race and sexuality with as much force or fearless humor as Clarke. The Days of Good Looks — her first new book of poetry in a decade — collects the author's most popular poems and essays along with an array of new unpublished writing.
B-Boy Blues (B-Boy Blue Series #1)
By: James Early Hardy
About the Book: B-Boy Blues is a six-book series that follows a group of Black gay men living in New York City. Described as rough, sexy, humorous, and authentic, B-Boy Blues is a first-rate love story.
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
By: Carol Anderson
About the Book: Following historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.
By: Morgan Rogers
About the Book: When becoming an adult means learning to love yourself first. With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that. This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows. In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along— the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
Parable of the Sower
By: Octavia E. Butler
About the Book: When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions. Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.
The Other History of the DC Universe
By: John Ridley
About the Book: Reframing iconic moments of DC history and charting a previously unexplored sociopolitical thread as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from historically disenfranchised groups, John Ridley goes where no other has gone before! Stories focus on DC black heroes Black Lighting (Jefferson Pierce), Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), Thunder (Anissa Pierce), Herald and Bumblebee (Mal and Karen Duncan). This unique new series presents its story as prose by Ridley married with beautifully realized color illustrations from a selection of exciting illustrators and comics artists.