Like nearly everyone in the United States, I have been surrounded by tweets, news footage, and videos of the tense and often terrifying events unfolding throughout our country. I have cried, seeing how people are treating each other, and have been stunned by the level of hatred I’ve witnessed.
So I want to help.
I want to bring something positive into this tumultuous time, and the best way I know how to do that is to lift up and support Black authors and illustrators. Below are books that I have read and loved, books I can’t wait to get my hands on, and an upcoming book that I’m having a hard time being patient for. Along with these recommendations comes a promise too – a promise to read, purchase, and review more books written and illustrated by people of color from now on.
Please be safe out there, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Books I’ve Read & Loved:
Let’s Dance – Valerie Bolling
Tap, twirl, twist, spin! With musical, rhyming text, author Valerie Bolling shines a spotlight on dances from across the globe, while energetic art from Maine Diaz shows off all the moves and the diverse people who do them. From the cha cha of Cuba to the stepping of Ireland, kids will want to leap, dip, and zip along with the dances on the page!
*Book review blog post coming soon!
Grandpa’s Stories – Joseph Coelho
One young girl reflects on a year with her beloved grandpa. She remembers the fields and parks they explored in the springtime and the old toys they fixed up in the summer. She remembers the handmade gifts they exchanged in the fall and the stories Grandpa told by the fi re each winter. But this year, the girl must say good-bye to Grandpa. In the face of her grief, she is determined to find a way to honor him. She decides to record her Grandpa stories in the notebook he made for her and carry Grandpa with her as she grows. An honest and relatable depiction of loss, Grandpa’s Stories celebrates life and the ways in which love lives on.
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Books I Will Be Reading Soon:
My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood – Tameka Fryer Brown
On a really good day, Jamie feels purple like the first bite of a juicy cold plum. And with a crayon in his hand, Jamie eases into a green feeling–like a dragon dancing through a jungle made of green jello. But when his brothers push him around and make fun of his drawings, Jamie feels like a dark gray storm brewing. What will it take to put Jamie back in a bright-feeling mood? Through Jamie, young readers will learn to describe how they’re feeling in a unique way.
Mommy’s Khimar – Illustrator Ebony Glenn
A young Muslim girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.
Something to Say – Lisa Moore Ramee
Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.
But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.
*Coming Summer 2020