It's Black History Month. Here are some great books featuring African American authors, events, people, stories, and characters.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds is the story of Ghost (real name Castle Crenshaw) who has never known anything but running…but never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. Yet when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race - and wins - the track coach sees he has something: crazy, natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?
Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a story told in verse that reads like rap. “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks…The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering,” announces Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story. A story of how he and his brother wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes is a novel told in verse. Gabby daydreams to tune out her parents' arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her…until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gabby grows more confident about herself and her future.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
The Menagerie by Tui Sutherland is a magical mystery adventure. When Logan Wilde wakes up to discover a baby griffin hiding under his bed, he suddenly finds himself thrown into a mystery involving his classmate Zoe and a magical menagerie right in the middle of his sleepy Wyoming town.
The Little Robot by Ben Hatke is a graphic novel about a girl who finds a lost robot in the woods. The two become fast friends, but they are in for an adventure when a much larger, menacing robot comes to retrieve the little robot.
Notebook of Doom: Rise of the Ballon Goons by Troy Cummings is a first chapter book filled with short text, graphics, and mystery. Alexander has just moved into Stermont, but the elementary school is being torn down and his new classroom is located in the hospital morgue! A notebook he finds is full of information about monsters and everywhere he turns there are spooky balloon men determined to attack him!
Nonfiction and Biography
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe is a biography about Jean-Michael Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings which rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. This book captures Basquiat's powerful message that art doesn't always have to be neat or clean - and definitely not inside the lines - to be beautiful.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a biography in 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 1960's and 1970's, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Each poem is both accessible and emotional, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
I've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson recounts the events of the 4,000 black elementary-, middle-, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail in Birmingham, Alabama, between May 2 and May 11, 1963. Fulfilling Mahatma Gandhi's and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s precept to fill the jails, they succeeded where adults had failed in desegregating one of the most racially violent cities in America. Focusing on four of the original participants We've Got a Job recounts the events before, during, and after the Children's March.