The last few months have been tough for mirror-books where marginalized readers can find a reflection of themselves, and their history, culture, and joys. In some states these books have been pulled from library shelves and banned from classrooms, which leaves me wondering, “What are we afraid of?”
Because as an educator I have always believed that the point of education is to guide children to become independent, thinking, autonomous adults. People who can hear another’s point of view, observe differences, make inferences, and draw conclusions. These critical thinking skills should be taught not only in the sciences, but especially in the language arts.
The truth is, if you are a diverse reader, you will sometimes read books that make you feel uncomfortable. You might meet some main characters with whom it is hard for you to identify. You might see a point of view that opposes yours. That's okay. Keep reading. Because that is exactly why reading diversely is important. Reading books about characters, circumstances, or paradigms different from yours leads to questions. Hopefully those questions will lead to introspection, conclusions, and greater understanding. And deeper empathy for your neighbor.
Diverse readers become kind people.
Here we are, more than halfway through Black History Month, and I wonder, have you read anything this month that offers a window? Do the kids in your life have access to both windows and mirrors?
Here is a list of my recent reads by black authors or featuring contemporary black main characters. Check them out!
The Me I Choose to Be by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, art by Regis and Kahran Bethencourt
Boogie Boogie, Y’all by C.G. Esperanza
The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Rachel Montez Minor, art by Annie Won
Change Sings: a Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman, art by Loren Long
Zuri Ray Tries Ballet by Tami Charles, Art by Sharon Sordo
Me &Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera
A Place Inside of Me by Zetta Elliot, art by Noa Denmon
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, art by Bryan Collier
Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, Art by Ekua Holmes
Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman, art by Akem
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, Tristan Strong Destroys the World, and Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert.
Black Boy Joy edited by Kwame Mbalia
Twins: A Graphic Novel by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright
New Kid by Jerry Craft (The first graphic novel to win a Newbury Award)
Class Act by Jerry Craft
Me (Moth) by Amber McBride
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (All Elizabeth Acevedo’s books are fabulous!)
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Swing and Solo by Kwame Alexander (He also wrote Middle Grade Newbury Winner The Crossover. All his books are fantastic!)
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Yes, you want to read everything (everything!) Nicola Yoon wrote.)
Also check out books by Angie Thomas and Tomi Adeyemi.
To find out more about new books by black authors, sign up for Kwame Mbalia’s Black by Popular Demand newsletter here.