Black Lives Matter Booklist

Black Lives Matter Booklist

We’ve put together a starter list of multi-generational book recommendations to support and understand the current protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. Place a hold on these titles when we reopen, read them online, or purchase from a local bookstore. A printable version of this list is here. If you want more recommendations or have any questions, please feel free to email us.

PICTURE BOOKS | KIDS’ CHAPTER BOOKS | KIDS’ NONFICTION | TEEN FICTION | TEEN NONFICTION | ADULT MEMOIR | ADULT NONFICTION | ADULT BOOKS FOR HISTORICAL CONTEXT

PICTURE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN


  • Alexander, Kwame
    The undefeated
    Summary:“The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree”



  • Hughes, Langston
    I, too, am America
    Summary:Presents the popular poem by one of the central figures in the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting the courage and dignity of the African American Pullman porters in the early twentieth century.



  • McDaniel, Breanna J.
    Hands up!
    Summary:“A young girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march”



  • McGhee, Holly M.
    Come with me
    Summary:Frightened by news of angry people around the world, a young girl gets her parents’ help in learning to be compassionate and brave a little at a time.



  • Nagara, Innosanto
    A is for activist
    Summary:“The bestselling ABC book for families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that we believe in and fight for.”



  • Perkins, Useni Eugene
    Hey black child
    Summary:“A lyrical, empowering poem that celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young ones to dream big and achieve their goals”

  • Reul, Sarah Lynne
    The breaking news
    Summary:When devastating news rattles a young girl’s community, her normally attentive parents and neighbors are suddenly exhausted and distracted. At school, her teacher tells the class to look for the helpers—the good people working to make things better in big and small ways.

MIDDLE GRADE CHAPTER BOOKS

  • Draper, Sharon M.
    Blended
    Summary: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.



  • Ramee, Lisa
    A good kind of trouble
    Summary:After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity.



  • Rhodes, Jewell Parker
    Ghost boys
    Summary:“After seventh-grader Jerome is shot by a white police officer, he observes the aftermath of his death and meets the ghosts of other fallen black boys including historical figure Emmett Till”



  • Craft, Jerry
    New kid
    Summary: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. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

CHILDREN’S NONFICTION & BIOGRAPHY

  • Langley, Sharon
    A ride to remember : a civil rights story
    Summary:“When Sharon Langley was born, amusement parks were segregated, and African American families were not allowed in. This picture book tells how a community came together–both black and white–to make a change.”



  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
    Sit-in : how four friends stood up by sitting down
    Summary:“This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.”–Amazon.com.



  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
    Hand in hand : ten Black men who changed America
    Summary:Presents the stories of ten African-American men from different eras in American history, organized chronologically to provide a scope from slavery to the modern day.



  • Boyce, Jo Ann Allen
    This promise of change : one girl’s story in the fight for school equality
    Summary:“In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history.”







  • Robinson, Sharon
    Child of the dream : a memoir of 1963
    Summary:“In January of 1963, Sharon Robinson turned thirteen the night before George Wallace declared on national television ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever’ in his inauguration for governor of Alabama. That was the start of a year that would become one of the most pivotal years in the history of America. This memoir follows Sharon as she goes through that incredible year of her life.”



  • Weatherford, Carole Boston
    Schomburg : the man who built a library
    Summary:Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro-Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house, he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division.



  • Woodson, Jacqueline.
    Brown girl dreaming
    Summary:“Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.”



  • Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux
    The book itch : freedom, truth & Harlem’s greatest bookstore
    Summary:Relates the story of the National Memorial African Bookstore, founded in Harlem by Louis Michaux in 1939, as seen from the perspective of Louis Michaux Jr., who met famous men like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X while helping there.

TEEN NONFICTION

  • Brimner, Larry Dane
    Twelve days in May : Freedom Ride 1961
    Summary:For twelve history-making days in May 1961, thirteen black and white civil rights activists, also known as the Freedom Riders, traveled by bus into the South to draw attention to the unconstitutional segregation still taking place. Despite their peaceful protests, the Freedom Riders were met with increasing violence the further south they traveled.



  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi
    Between the world and me
    Summary:” In [this book], Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings–moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race…”



  • Elliott, Zetta
    Say her name
    Summary:Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter.



  • Jewell, Tiffany
    This book is anti-racist
    Summary:This book is written for the young person who doesn’t know how to speak up to the racist adults in their life. It is written so children and young adults will feel empowered to stand up to the adults who continue to close doors in their faces. This book will give them the language and ability to understand racism and a drive to undo it. In short, it is for everyone.



  • Reynolds, Jason
    Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you
    Summary:“A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning

TEEN FICTION

  • Black enough : stories of being young & black in America
    Summary:A collection of short stories explore what it is like to be young and black, centering on the experiences of black teenagers and emphasizing that one person’s experiences, reality, and personal identity are different than someone else.



  • Coles, Jay
    Tyler Johnson was here
    Summary:“When Marvin Johnson’s twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police officer, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom”



  • Magoon, Kekla
    Light it up
    Summary:Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators.



  • Medina, Tony
    I am Alfonso Jones
    Summary:The ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones travels in a New York subway car full of the living and the dead, watching his family and friends fight for justice after he is killed by an off-duty police officer while buying a suit in a Midtown department store.



  • Reynolds, Jason
    All American boys
    Summary:”In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.”- Amazon.com



  • Segal, Gilly
    I’m not dying with you tonight
    Summary:Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.



  • Stone, Nic
    Dear Martin
    Summary: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.

ADULT MEMOIRS

  • Allen, Danielle S.
    Cuz : the life and times of Michael A.
    Summary:“In a shattering work that shifts between a woman’s private anguish over the loss of her beloved baby cousin and a scholar’s fierce critique of the American prison system, Danielle Allen seeks answers to what, for many years, felt unanswerable.”



  • Brown, Austin Channing
    I’m still here : black dignity in a world made for whiteness
    Summary:While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God’s ongoing work in the world.



  • Cooper, Brittney C.
    Eloquent rage : a black feminist discovers her superpower
    Summary:So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.





  • Jones, Saeed
    How we fight for our lives : a memoir
    Summary:“Written from the crossroads of sex, race, and power in America, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir and a haunting reflection of the nation as a whole”



  • Khan-Cullors, Patrisse
    When they call you a terrorist : a Black Lives Matter memoir
    Summary:A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement’s position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement’s activists while calling for essential political changes.”

ADULT NONFICTION

  • Alexander, Michelle
    The new Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness
    Summary:As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status, much like their grandparents before them, who lived under an explicit system of control.





  • Dyson, Michael Eric
    Tears we cannot stop : a sermon to White America
    Summary:Fifty years ago Malcolm X told a White woman who asked what she could do for the cause, ‘Nothing.’ Michael Eric Dyson believes he was wrong. Now he responds to that question. If society is to make real racial progress, people must face difficult truths, including being honest about how Black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.



  • Irving, Deborah Kittredge.
    Waking up white : and finding myself in the story of race
    Summary:For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. Then, in 2009, one “aha!” moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan.





  • Kendi, Ibram X.
    How to be an antiracist
    Summary:“”The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it.” Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America — but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.



  • Oluo, Ijeoma
    So you want to talk about race
    Summary:“A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.”



  • Rankine, Claudia
    Citizen : an American lyric
    Summary:“Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media.”



  • Summary:”Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods.”- Amazon.com

BOOKS FOR HISTORICAL CONTEXT





  • Butler, Octavia E.
    Kindred
    Summary:Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor. Yet each time Dana’s sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun.









  • Hughes, Langston
    The collected poems of Langston Hughes
    Summary:Here, for the first time, is a complete collection of Langston Hughes’s poetry – 860 poems that sound the heartbeat of black life in America during five turbulent decades, from the 1920s through the 1960s.