Posted on February 11, 2020 at 8:28 AM by Michael Lang
Historian Carter Woodson created Negro History Week in February 1926, during the week encompassing the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass. President Gerald Ford declared February as Black History Month in 1976, and it has been celebrated each February since. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment in February 1870, giving African American men the right to vote.
To honor Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the rich cultural heritage, achievements, and role of African Americans in America’s history, we’re highlighting some fantastic titles to read anytime of the year.
-- Maggie Witte
DB 95925 The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Annotation: 1962. Elwood Curtis lives with his grandmother, works when not in school, and admires Dr. Martin Luther King. But one innocent mistake sees him sentenced to reform school--the Nickel Academy. There he meets Turner, whose skepticism challenges Elwood. Their friendship has repercussions in the sadistic school. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2019.
DB 96729 The water dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Annotation: Born into bondage, Hiram Walker is robbed of all memory of his mother when she is sold. But Hiram is blessed with a mysterious power. This power saves him when he almost drowns, and he knows he must escape the only life he has ever known. Violence. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 94141 We cast a shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Annotation: Anxious about the resurgence of societal racism, a black man hopes to provide his biracial son with an experimental medical procedure that can turn people white. In his quest to afford the procedure, the man jumps through increasingly surreal hoops at work in order to gain a promotion. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 96652 Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Annotation: 2001. Sixteen-year-old Melody enters her coming-of-age ceremony wearing the custom-made dress her mother Iris never got to wear--due to her pregnancy. As the families of Melody's parents gather for the ceremony, their individual stories are revealed. Strong language and descriptions of sex. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 92627 Becoming by Michelle Obama
Annotation: A memoir by the former First Lady, the first African American in that role. Obama recounts her childhood in Chicago, her years balancing motherhood and her career as an executive, and her time in the White House. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2018.
DB 96110 Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A memoir by Daniel R. Day
Annotation: Autobiography of fashion designer who disrupted the industry with his focus on black Americans. Discusses growing up in Harlem, avoiding the trap of drugs, building his Harlem-based business, and becoming a fashion icon while dressing prominent clients such as Beyonce´ and LL Cool J. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 93615 Black is the body: Stories from my grandmother’s time, my mother’s time, and mine by Emily Bernard
Annotation: Thirteen essays exploring black women's experiences in America. In "Scar Tissue," Bernard writes about being one of seven victims of an unprovoked mass stabbing in 1994. Discusses both the physical and emotional aftereffects. Other essays share experiences of her grandmother and mother. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 86608 Born a crime: Stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah
Annotation: The host of TV's The Daily Show shares his coming-of-age story as the child of a white father and black mother in South Africa. Their very union was considered a crime, and when the author was born during apartheid, his biracial status made him an outcast. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2016.
Young Adults and Teens
DB 94320 Black enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Tracey Baptiste
Annotation: Seventeen short stories explore what it is like to be young and black, and emphasize that one person's experiences, reality, and personal identity are different from someone else's. Contributors include Ren e Watson, Kekla Magoon, Jason Reynolds, and Justina Ireland. Strong language. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2019.
DB 94167 On the come up by Angie Thomas
Annotation: When teenaged Bri, an aspiring rapper, pours her anger and frustration into her first hit song, she finds herself at the center of a controversy. Strong language. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2019.
DB 91635 Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Annotation: After the dead rise on the battlefields of Gettysburg, America passes the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, that requires children of color attend combat schools to battle the undead. Jane McKeene, trained to protect the elite, gets caught up in a conspiracy. Violence and some strong language. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2018.
DB 93056 Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Annotation: Zuri Benitez has pride for Brooklyn and her family's ethnic roots. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with them, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2018.
DB 96159 Becoming Kareem: Growing up on and off the court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Annotation: NBA star reflects on his life growing up in New York City, his years playing basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, and his involvement as an activist for social change. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For junior and senior high and older readers. 2017.
DB 93892 We are not yet equal: Understanding our racial divide by Carol Anderson
Annotation: Professor of African American studies discusses five milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in American democracy and the systemic racist backlash that rolled back the wins. Young adult adaptation of White Rage (DB 86343). For senior high and older readers. 2018.
DB 88229 Brown v. Board of Education: A fight for simple justice by Susan Goldman Rubin
Annotation: Recounts the many legal cases leading up to the Supreme Court decision to end school segregation in the United States. Discusses the work of key players such as Thurgood Marshall and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). For grades 6-9. 2016.
DB 91002 Bessie Coleman: First female African American and Native American pilot by Cathleen Small
Annotation: Examines the challenging times and amazing accomplishments of Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) on her journey to become not only the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn an international aviation pilot's license, but also a successful civilian pilot and famous stunt flyer. For senior high and older readers. 2018.
DB 96775 Child of the dream: A memoir of 1963 by Sharon Robinson
Annotation: Memoir from author of Jackie's Nine (DB 54787) and daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson recounts the year she turned thirteen. Discusses the events of 1963, one of the most important years in American history for the civil rights movement. Commercial audiobook. For grades 3-6. 2019.
DB 96441 The playbook: 52 rules to aim, shoot, and score in this game called life by Kwame Alexander
Annotation: Author of The Crossover (DB 79528) shares inspiring lessons about the rules of life as well as uplifting quotes from athletes such as Stephen Curry and Venus Williams and other exemplars like Sonia Sotomayor and Michelle Obama. Commercial audiobook. For grades 6-9 and older readers. 2017.
DB 97217 Malcolm Little: The boy who grew up to become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz
Annotation: Short biography of civil rights leader Malcolm X. Focuses on his youth and the lessons learned from his tight-knit family, who fought for freedom, justice, and equality for all. For grades 2-4. 2013.
DB 97403 Going down home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons
Annotation: Alan looks forward to the annual family reunion at the farm where Daddy grew up, but everyone is supposed to share something special and Alan worries about arriving with empty hands. For grades K-3. 2019.
DB 92266 Harbor me by Jacqueline Woodson
Annotation: When six students are chosen to participate in a weekly talk with no adults allowed, they discover that when they're together, it's safe to share the hopes and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. Commercial audiobook. For grades 5-8. 2018.
DB 96340 Trace by Pat Cummings
Annotation: After his parents' tragic deaths, Trace moves in with his artistic aunt and yearns to be noticed at his new school. Then strange circumstances lead him to a ghost in the basement of the New York Public Library--and to something in his own past. For grades 5-8. 2019.