From classics, to kidlit, to modern day stories, Black authors have made a significant impact on literature. Below is a list of some books for you and/or the kids to enjoy. Some discuss race and class, others explore magic and love, but they’re all stories that anyone can enjoy at any time of the year, but especially during Black History Month.
Remember, the Milwaukee Public Library is your friend. With a library card, you can get any book you desire, just make sure you return it on time.
For the kiddos (Ages 4-7)
- Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe teaches little girls every curl, coil and braid on their head is beautiful.
- Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o is about dark skin and all it’s beauty and magic.
- Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James presents a boy’s trip to the barber shop as the honorable, joyous, life-changing experience that it is.
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison highlights African American pioneers to inspire the little girls to be exceptional.
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison features the trailblazers who will inspire little boys to become leaders and legends alike.
Middle Grade (Age 8-12)
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis is the story of ten-year-old Kenny, and his family from Flint, who visit their grandma in Birmingham during one of the darkest periods in American history.
- Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia incorporates African American folk heroes and West African Gods into a gripping story about a seventh grader on an otherworldly adventure.
- Blended by Sharon M. Draper explores life as a biracial girl who feels torn between two worlds.
For Teens (Ages 13 – 17)
- Pointe by Brandy Colbert follows an elite ballerina, Theo, as she deals with personal troubles, plus the sudden return of her childhood best friend, who’s been missing for 4 years.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a powerful story about a teen who deals with being the sole witness to the police shooting of her unarmed best friend.
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is about a girl who uses slam poetry to express herself.
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is magical west-African inspired fantasy about a girl on a quest to bring magic back to her kingdom.
- Long Way Down by Justin Reynolds takes place over 60 seconds, the amount of time it takes a boy to decide if he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.
- Monster by Walter Dean Myers is written as a screenplay, because that’s how sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon copes with being on trial for murder.
Adult Novels (Above 18 but young at heart)
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is about an educated Nigerian woman who comes to America and experiences culture shock in a racially-tense environment.
- Waiting to Exhale by Terry Exhale explores the deep friendship between four African American women as they search for “the one”.
- The Mothers by Britt Bennet is set in a Black community in Southern California and explores young love, big secrets and how the decisions we make can change our lives.
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty is a satire about a black man who brings a case to reinstate slavery to the supreme court.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander sheds light on how mass incarceration is a contemporary system of racial control.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou tells the story of a young Maya growing up and learning how to be unapologetically herself in the face of adversity.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a profound and personal story from a father to his son about being a black boy in America in the Black Lives Matter era.
- We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union is a collection of essays about trauma, gender, sexuality, race, beauty and Hollywood.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X chronicles the life of the Muslim human rights activist, leader and revolutionary.
- Becoming by Michelle Obama is the inspiring memoir by the former first lady that gives an intimate look into her life.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston follows a fiercely independent woman through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, challenges and loss.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is about a girl navigating a world that uplifts white beauty standards.
- The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison chronicles the life of an unnamed narrator moving through life as a Black man.
- Kindred by Octavia Butler is a science fiction novel about a woman who continuously time travels from modern day to the time of slavery.
- Beloved by Toni Morrison is about life directly after slavery and the trauma black people experienced due to it.
Other places to shop:
Half Priced Books
Where: 5032 S 74th St, Greenfield, WI 53220
Why? They mostly sell secondhand books, but there’s also a selection of new titles, always for a reduced price. If you’re willing to spend the time, you might be able to find the stories above, and many more.
Where: 2559 N Downer Ave.
Why? Support a locally owned bookstore!
Downtown Books Bought & Sold
Where: 624 N Broadway St.
Why? Another used bookstore where you can find a lot of these gems and more.
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