Black History for All Ages

Black History is art, resilience, joy, pain, community. Black history is American history, rooted in complexity and it is layered. Black history is year-round but highlighted in February; it is integrated, and it is of its own. Black history is also Black present and Black future. Below are some of my favorite books that capture a fragment of this remembering, uplifting, and celebrating across ages.

Something, someday

Gorman, Amanda, 1998- author.

jE Gorman

"Presidential inaugural poet and #1 New York Times bestselling author Amanda Gorman and Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Christian Robinson have created a timeless message of hope. Sometimes the world feels broken. And problems seem too big to fix. But somehow, we all have the power to make a difference. With a little faith, and maybe the help of a friend, together we can find beauty and create change. With intimate and inspiring text and powerfully stunning illustrations, Something, Someday reveals how even the smallest gesture can have a lasting impact" --

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It would be highly unlikely that Amanda Gorman (The Hill We Climb,) and illustrator Christian Robinson (illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street and You Matter) would not create something incredible. This is a treasure for little ones, and their grownups. The text is simple and sparse, and the pictures are lovely. Most of all, the message comes together beautifully through both.
- Victoria

The artivist

Smith, Nikkolas, 1985- author.

jE Smith

Motivated by the realization of global inequities, a young boy embraces his dual identities as an artist and activist, becoming an "Artivist" to make a difference by using his viral mural as a catalyst for positive change.

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This book shares the pain in the world, but also those who want to help. I love showing young people that art disrupts and transforms culture and this book is a perfect introduction!
- Victoria

There was a party for Langston

Reynolds, Jason, author.

jE Reynolds

A celebration of Langston Hughes and African American authors he inspired, told through the lens of the party held at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1991.

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YA legend, Jason Reynolds has dabbled in this tribute to the incredible Langston Hughes for young children and it's brimming with joy, beautiful art, and celebration. Bonus- It also features a library!
- Victoria


Meadows, Michelle/ Law, Jamiel (ILT)


Early life experiences and talent set James Baldwin on the path to greatness. James Baldwin, called “Jimmy” by family and friends, grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. He loved reading and found a way to express himself through writing, which became an important part of who he was. One of his teachers, Orilla Winfield, nurtured his interest in the arts, taking him to plays and museums, and when he was in junior high, he was mentored by poet Countee Cullen. Jimmy initially followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a preacher, until he realized writing could mean so much more. He sought out other creatives and eventually moved to Europe. In Switzerland he fell in love with painter Lucien Happersberger and completed Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), his first published novel. In Europe, he felt free from the discrimination of life in the United States, but he remained connected to the struggle for rights in his home country, using his unique talent to write and speak about the Black experience. Writing in verse, Meadows employs vivid imagery to convey Baldwin’s passion for writing, his desire for freedom, and his love for friends and family. The stories she chooses to highlight provide a full picture of the iconic writer and demonstrate his importance in African American literary history. Digital illustrations complement the text with a rich, warm palette. -Kirkus Review

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This is a great introduction for children of one of America's greatest writers and civil rights activists.
- Victoria

The Watsons go to Birmingham-- 1963

Curtis, Christopher Paul.

jFICTION Curtis, Christopher Paul

The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.

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This is an older title, but I think is one of those books that stands the test of time. Christopher Paul Curtis creates characters you immediately relate to, and you are invested in his stories. Should always be recommended reading!
- Victoria

Harbor me

Woodson, Jacqueline, author.

jFICTION Woodson, Jacqueline

"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"--

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Woodson is one of my favorite authors for middle grade. She is that soft, but righteous aunt you want to sit and have a treat with. She loves her characters and creates safe spaces for young people to discuss hard things; an essential reason we read!
- Victoria

Forever is now

Lockington, Mariama, author.


On a perfect summer day, wrapped in her girlfriend's arms. Sadie feels safe. She's been struggling to manage her chronic anxiety, and is hopeful better times are ahead. When her girlfriend reveals some unexpected news, and the two witness a violent incident of police brutality, Sadie's whole world is upended in an instant. Not feeling safe anywhere, Sadie retreats inside her self. When her therapist diagnoses Sadie with agoraphobia, she starts on a path of healing. Her best friend, Evan, updates her on the protests taking place in their city. How can you show up for your community when you can't even leave your house? -- adapted from jacket

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Author of, For Black Girls Like Me, this is a great story of dealing with trauma and how you can make an impact in the world even if you're confined to your home!
- Victoria


Miller, Keith F., Jr., author.


"On the verge of summer before his senior year, Jay is a soft soul in a world of concrete. While his older brother is everything people expect a man to be--tough, athletic, and in charge--Jay simply blends into the background to everyone, except when it comes to Leroy. Unsure of what he could have possibly done to catch the eye of the boy who could easily have anyone he wants, Jay isn't about to ignore the surprising but welcome attention. But as everything in his world begins to heat up, especially with Leroy, whispered rumors over the murder of a young Black journalist and long-brewing territory tensions hang like a dark cloud over his neighborhood. And when Jay and Leroy find themselves caught in the crossfire, Leroy isn't willing to be the reason Jay's life is at risk. Dragged into the world of the Black Diamonds--whose work to protect the Black neighborhoods of Savannah began with his father and now falls to his older brother--Leroy knows that finding out who attacked his brother is not only the key to protecting everyone he loves but also the only way he can ever be with Jay. Wading through a murky history of family trauma and regret, Leroy soon discovers that there's no keeping Jay safe when Jay's own family is in just as deep and fighting the undertow of danger just as hard. Now Jay and Leroy must puzzle through secrets hiding in plain sight and scramble to uncover who is determined to eliminate the Black Diamonds before someone else gets hurt--even if the cost might be their own electric connection"--

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I haven't read a book like this before. It's raw, gritty, violent, but I was invested because I cared immensely what happened to the characters!
- Victoria

Music is history

Questlove, author.

781.6609 /Questlove

Music Is History combines Questlove's deep musical expertise with his curiosity about history, examining America over the past fifty years.

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I appreciated a little insight into this musical genius' mind.
- Victoria

bell hooks : the last interview and other conversations

hooks, bell, 1952-2021, interviewee.

305.488 /Hooks

"bell hooks was a prolific, trailblazing author, feminist, social activist, cultural critic, and professor. Born Gloria Jean Watkins, bell used her pen name to center attention on her ideas and to honor her courageous great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. hooks's unflinching dedication to her work carved deep grooves for the feminist and anti-racist movements. In this collection of 7 interviews, stretching from early in her career until her last interview, she discusses feminism, the complexity of rap music and masculinity, her relationship to Buddhism, the "politic of domination," sexuality, and love and the importance of communication across cultural borders. Whether she was sparking controversy on campuses or facing criticism from contemporaries, hooks relentlessly challenged herself and those around her, inserted herself into the tensions of the cultural moment, and anchored herself with love"--

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This is a short but wonderful read. bell hooks is a beautiful powerhouse rooted in radical love and her work has transformed lives and communities!
- Victoria

The Black joy project

Cruz, Kleaver, author.

704.942 /Cruz

"A beautiful love letter to Black joy, as a source of self-preservation and survival as well as a form of resistance"--

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Gorgeous, inspiring essays "for those who are no stranger to the weight of the world and find ways to keep going!".
- Victoria

Kehinde Wiley : a new republic

759.13 /Wiley

The works presented in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic raise questions about race, gender, and the politics of representation by portraying contemporary African American men and women using the conventions of traditional European portraiture. The exhibition includes an overview of the artists prolific fourteen-year career and features sixty paintings and sculptures. Wiley's signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on specific paintings by Old Masters, replacing the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings with contemporary black subjects, drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives. The subjects in Wiley's paintings often wear sneakers, hoodies, and baseball caps, gear associated with hip-hop culture, and are set against contrasting ornate decorative backgrounds that evoke earlier eras and a range of cultures. Through the process of "street casting," Wiley invites individuals, often strangers he encounters on the street, to sit for portraits. In this collaborative process, the model chooses a reproduction of a painting from a book and reenacts the pose of the painting?s figure. By inviting the subjects to select a work of art, Wiley gives them a measure of control over the way they're portrayed.

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This is another older title, but Wiley's art is fascinating, rooted in history and that history us turned upside down and recreated in its own image. It's exactly the art I wanted to see as a kid. An absolute feast for the eyes! If you're a fan of his, check out one of his inspirations, Kerry James Marshall's Mastry.
- Victoria