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Updated by Jen Blair on Jun 02, 2020
Headline for Black Lives Matter
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Black Lives Matter

Racism, micro-aggressions, struggle, protest- what it’s like growing up Black in America - from Black authors

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

All American Boys - Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

One of the most important books about race relations and police brutality told from the perspective of two young men, one Black, one white. An instant classic

From the publisher:
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend.

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Blended - Sharon Draper

From the publisher:
Piano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson

Told in verse, this is the author's experiences growing up both in the North and the South in the 1960's and 1970's as she discovered more about her family and the Civil Rights Movement.

Dear Martin (Dear Martin, #1) by Nic Stone

Dear Martin - Nic Stone

No one wants to be judged by their appearance. No one wants to be judged by the color of their skin. Justyce is an excellent student and a responsible kid. But that's not the kid that the police see.

Dear Justyce (the sequel) will be published September 29th, 2020.

From the publisher:
Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Black Brother, Black Brother - Jewell Parker Rhodes

From the publisher:
Suspended unjustly from elite Middlefield Prep, Donte Ellison studies fencing with a former champion, hoping to put the racist fencing team captain in his place. A powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition.

For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington

For Black Girls Like Me - Mariama J. Lockington

From the publisher:
Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. Makeda dreams of meeting her African American mother, while coping with serious problems in her white adopted family, a cross-country move, and being homeschooled.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Genesis Begins Again - Alicia D. Williams

This is a hard read. How have we created a culture where an 13-year-old believes that they aren't beautiful or worthy because of the darkness of their skin?

From the publisher:
There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys - Jewell Parker Rhodes

Reading how Jerome experiences a Chicago he has never seen, but now sees as a ghost, was so powerful and heartbreaking. Don't miss this one.

From the publisher:
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

A Good Kind of Trouble - Lisa Moore Ramée

From the publisher:
Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed. Now she's suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she's not black enough. Wait, what? Shay's sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

This is one of the most perfect books ever written. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, do it now. A master class in perspective and identity and finding strength by finding your voice.

From the publisher:
Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does--or does not--say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight - Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

After a riot breaks out at their high school football game, Lena and Campbell must overcome their misconceptions about each other to survive.

From the publisher:
They aren't friends. They hardly understand the other's point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they're going to survive the night.

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Jackpot - Nic Stone

I loved how this was a love story that crosses lines of race, but also of poverty. How can you find something in common with someone that has NO similar life experiences? And how do you talk about it?

From the publisher:
Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas 'n' Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she--with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan--can find the ticket holder who hasn't claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite...or divide?

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice - Bryan Stevenson

From the publisher:
In this nonfiction work, lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom. Stevenson's story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society--the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization.

Light It Up by Kekla Magoon

Light it Up - Kekla Magoon

From the publisher:
A girl walks home from school. She's tall for her age. She's wearing her winter coat. Her headphones are in. She's hurrying.

She never makes it home.

In the aftermath, while law enforcement tries to justify the response, one fact remains: a police officer has shot and killed an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl. The community is thrown into upheaval, leading to unrest, a growing movement to protest the senseless taking of black lives, and the arrival of white supremacist counter demonstrators.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds

Every time you read this, your perspective on what the ending means changes. And you need to read this more than once. A masterpiece.

From the publisher:
As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn's fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know.

March: Book One (March, #1) by John Lewis

March: Books 1-3 - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

A graphic novel adaptation biography of one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Congressman John Lewis and his remarkable life.

From the publisher:
March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday’s Not Coming - Tiffany D. Jackson

Black girls disappear and no one seems to care. Why does Claudia feel like she's losing her mind when she starts asking about where her best friend, Monday is? Why isn't she at school? This is my favorite of Jackson's books. A perfect mix of thriller and social justice.

From the publisher:
Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

New Kid (New Kid, #1) by Jerry Craft

New Kid - Jerry Craft

This book taught me more about micro-aggressions and what the world looks like as navigated by a young Black boy. It won the Newbery Award, but it deserves ALL the awards.

Class Act (New Kid #2) will be published on October 6th, 2020

From the publisher:
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up - Angie Thomas

From the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill.

But it's hard to get your come up when you're labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

The Only Black Girls in Town - Brandy Colbert

A combo of mystery and one girl's experience with racism as the only Black girl in town, this is the perfect middle grade debut from Colbert.

From the publisher:
Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta's best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can't understand. Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie's attic, they team up to figure out exactly who's behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

Ordinary Hazards - Nikki Grimes

One of the toughest, and ultimately, most uplifting memoirs I have ever read. Amazing and powerful and inspirational. Bonus? It's in verse. This was one of my favorite books last year.

From the publisher:
Growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a mostly absent father, Nikki Grimes found herself terrorized by babysitters, shunted from foster family to foster family, and preyed upon by those she trusted. At the age of six, she poured her pain onto a piece of paper late one night - and discovered the magic and impact of writing. For many years, Nikki's notebooks were her most enduing companions. In this accessible and inspiring memoir that will resonate with young readers and adults alike, Nikki shows how the power of those words helped her conquer the hazards - ordinary and extraordinary - of her life.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Piecing Me Together - Renée Watson

Taking place in Portland, this is one girl's story of having to overcome strangers' expectations of her success as well as those from home. I really related to her frustration as she felt like she needed to carry her mentor who was supposed to be helping her.

From the publisher:
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.

Slay by Brittney Morris

Slay - Brittney Morris

From the publisher:
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

Some Places More Than Others - Renée Watson

Setting seem familiar to you? A girl from Beaverton discovers how complicated her family history is after traveling with her father to Harlem. I loved seeing both worlds through Amara's eyes.

From the publisher:
All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City--Harlem, to be exact. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family--and herself--in new way. As she explores, asks questions, and learns more and more about Harlem and about her father and his family history, she realizes how, in some ways more than others, she connects with him, her home, and her family.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You - Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Here is the history that no one teaches you. The essential history of this country. Our institutions have been built on racism. Reading this book you can better understand the systems so that you can make the change this is sorely needed. The hype is real for this book.

From the publisher:
The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.