Morgan Freeman once said, “Black history is American history,” and here at Bookish we couldn’t agree more. We also believe that this month is about more than merely looking into the past. Here, we’ve collected books for readers of all ages that help to highlight both the accomplishments and struggles of the past and present through figures both known and lesser known. Within these titles, there is a lot to think about and even more to be proud of. While these books only scrape the surface, they’ll hopefully provide readers with the inspiration to continue reading books about and by black individuals far past the month of February.
From practicing the piano in small town Mississippi to performing as a princess in Aida, Leontyne’s story will inspire all who want their voices to be heard. And for those readers who prefer a different sound, When the Beat was Born serves as a great introduction to the origins of hip hop.
The perfect read for budding feminists and world-changers, this book explores what might have happened if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of change.
Since her dad passed away, biracial Violet feels as though she sticks out like a sore thumb when she’s with her white mom and sister. In reconnecting with her grandmother and reclaiming her roots, 11-year-old Violet learns to not only feel comfortable in but proud of her own skin.
Bumblebee, North Carolina sounds like a nice place to live, but when the Ku Klux Klan begins burning crosses, Stella knows her town and world are about to change forever. Set in the segregated South, this book provides young readers with an honest and poignant look at a dark time in American history through the eyes of one hopeful and courageous girl.
This award-winning title takes off where the school books leave off by shunning biographical information for impactful stories of 10 black men who changed the course of history and helped to shape the America we know today.
Fourteen-year-old City Coldson’s post-Katrina world is further rocked when a mysterious book leads him into a world of time travel, missing students, and a boy who must protect his family from the KKK. Author Kiese Laymon uses time travel as a means to look at identity, prejudice, and race relations. Spoiler alert: Readers who love this will likely find Octavia E. Butler in their futures.
Twins Nikki and Maya have always agreed on everything… that is until their neighborhood is gentrified. Nikki loves the new boutiques and coffee shops, while Maya is gutted to see her home stripped away and transformed. This teen debut gives readers a realistic exploration of cultural expectations and racial divides.
Readers who loved Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down (an inspired-by-true-events story of a black teenager shot by a white man) will devour her latest: a graphic novel of historical fiction based on the life of Malcolm X. Magoon teamed up with Malcom’s third daughter (Ilyasah Shabazz) for the project, making this an unmissable 2015 release.
With its haunting cover, it’s clear from the start that Claudia Rankine’s follow up to Don’t Let Me Be Lonely doesn’t hold back. In this exploration of what it truly means to be black in today’s America, Rankine covers the racism (intentional or otherwise) that helped to build to today’s state of heightened racial tensions.
Rolling Stone journalist Touré takes readers on a journey unlike any other as he explores the cultural impact of hip hop in America. From looking at Alicia Keys’ response to 9/11 to the ways in which the Wu-Tang Clan compares to traditional African family structures, this book provides readers with a thought-provoking examination of popular culture.
Life seems like a fairy tale for Boy Novak and her husband Arturo Whitman, that is until the birth of their daughter reveals a Whitman family secret: They’ve been passing for white. While the rest of the Whitman family is light-skinned, the new baby is dark and begins to draw attention to the family in this 1950s tale.