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Black History Month Suggested Reading

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Middle Grade and Beginning Chapter Books

Recommended by Nicole Westbom, KHL head youth librarian

“The Door of No Return” by Kwame Alexander. Novel in verse, set in 1860 in the Asante Kingdom (Ghana). Main character is facing the ordinary struggles of growing up, rivalries, and talking to the girl he likes, until one day he is taken from everything he has ever known. A harrowing story, written based on real history. (Age 11 and up.)

“Amari and the Night Brothers” by B.B. Alston. Fantasy. A girl finds out that she has supernatural abilities and is invited to audition to go to a school to train. She hopes to use the talent and position at the school to find out more about the recent disappearance of her brother. (Age 9 and up.)

“Caprice” by Coe Booth. Realistic fiction. Caprice growing up and finding her place as an academically gifted teenager. Before she can decide whether she wants to attend an affluent private school and leave all of her friends behind, Caprice is unexpectedly confronted with her past and a tangle of traumatic experiences she escaped as a young child. (Age 11 and up.)

“King and the Dragonflies” by Kacen Callendar. Realistic fiction. A story about coping with the death of your sibling and trying to find your own identity in a world where being who you are might mean being rejected by the people you love. (Age 11 and up.)

“A Duet for Home” by Karin Yan Glaser. Realistic fiction. Two young people who are living in temporary housing find friendship and solace in learning about classical music. Potent discussion of homelessness and housing crisis. (Age 9 and up.)

“When Stars Are Scattered” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Graphic novel about two brothers in a refugee camp in Kenya. (Age 9 and up.)

“Twins” by Varian Johnson. Graphic novel, realistic fiction. Sixth grade twins who used to do everything together until one starts to want to express her own individuality. (Age 9 and up.)

“Root Magic” by Eden Royce. Historical fiction and fantasy. A beautiful blend of the two genres, combining Black history and folk magic. (Age 9 and up.)

“Ways to Make Sunshine” by Renee Watson. Beginning chapter book, realistic fiction. First in a series about a girl growing up. Fun and sweet. (All ages.)

Young Adult Books

Recommended by Nicole Westbom, KHL head youth librarian

“Ace of Spades” by Faridah Abike-Iyimide. What starts as a high school drama, turns quickly into a potentially deadly mystery.

“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi. Fantasy. Richly developed magical world, first in a series. 

“Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi. Fantasy. In a world where monsters no longer exist, what is there to fear? But are the monsters really gone?

“The Weight of Blood” by Tiffany D. Jackson. Horror. Deadly high school popularity contest. Fans of Stephen King will enjoy.

“All Boys Aren’t Blue: a Memoir-Manifesto” by George M Johnson. Essays. Prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist writes about his youth.

“The Davenports” by Krystal Marquis. Historical Fiction. Society drama set in 1910 Chicago.

Books for Adults

Recommended by the staff at Bear Pond Books 

“Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World — and How You Can, Too” by Ijeoma Oluo. The always insightful Oluo shows how people across the country are making changes for intersectional racial equity and how you can, too.

“This is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets” edited by Kwame Alexander. This beautiful book of poetry includes one by former Vermonter and our good friend, Reuben Jackson. 

“Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America” by Joyann Reid. The MSNBC correspondent tells the story of Medgar Evers and his wife and how they both played a crucial role in the Civil Rights movement. 

“How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith. This book will change how you think about the American history you learned and demonstrates how white supremacy dominates how our history has been told. 

“The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris. A novel and Bear Pond Staff Pick (Rebecca) that tells the story of two freed brothers at the end of the Civil War.

“Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” by Kekla Magoon, a local author and powerhouse historian. Written for ages 12 and up, perfect for adults, too.

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