I had an original topic for this post, something light and fluffy about summer reading but I just can’t pull it off. The incredible outpouring of frustration and anger happening in all corners of the country has, for many of us, pulled our focus from everything else.
So instead, I want to offer up this space to highlight some of the amazing books by black authors that it has been my pleasure to read over the last year, in no particular order. I whole heartedly recommend you add them to your library, classroom or summer reading list.
(summaries from author website, book jacket or Amazon)
The Last Last Day of Summer, by Lamar Giles
Otto and Sheed are the local sleuths in their zany Virginia town, masters of unraveling mischief using their unmatched powers of deduction. And as the summer winds down and the first day of school looms, the boys are craving just a little bit more time for fun, even as they bicker over what kind of fun they want to have. That is, until a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. Now, with the help of some very strange people and even stranger creatures, Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town—and each other—before time stops for good.
Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis hates many things about herself. Like that her skin is so dark that her family members and classmates call her names. Like that her father gambles away their rent so often that they’re regularly evicted. When Genesis and her mom find themselves with nowhere to go, they head to her grandmother’s house, where her mom and grandma fight all the time. Grandma wants Mom to leave her father and thinks she should have married a light skinned man to begin with. Despite this, Genesis is liking her new school, making some new friends, and the choir teacher thinks Genesis is talented enough to perform in the talent show. But neither the citrus fruits nor the lightening creams are working, so how can Genesis believe anyone else likes her or believes in her with her dark skin when her own family doesn’t seem to?
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
(a fav series of my now teenager daughter!) Though Ghost, real name Castle Crenshaw, has always been running—he’s just never done it on a track team. But after he challenges an elite sprinter to a race, and wins, suddenly a new path is open to him. The track coach thinks Ghost and his natural talent would make a perfect addition to the team. Ghost joins up, and finds the team is full of kids with their own problems, and that the running is much harder than he expected it to be. But he also knows that no matter how fast he runs, there are some problems that threaten to keep up with him.
The Jumbies, by Tracy Baptiste
(read the series!) Corinne isn’t afraid of anything, especially not jumbies. Those are just trickster creatures parents make up to scare their kids into behaving. When Corinne spots a beautiful woman named Severine in the town market, she knows something big is about to happen. And when it comes, it’s Severine at her house, bewitching her father, and it’s only the first step in Severine’s plot to claim the island for the jumbies. To save her home, Corinne must face the jumbies and draw on magic she didn’t know she had.
A Good Kind of Trouble, by Lisa Moore Ramee
Twelve-year-old Shayla only wants to follow the rules. But now in middle school, she’s no longer sure what the rules are. Not with her friends and not with her classmates. Her sister’s involved in Black Lives Matter, which Shayla doesn’t think is for her. But after a protest, Shayla decides some rules are okay to break, and she starts wearing an armband to school in support of BLM. The principal announces that the armbands aren’t allowed, and Shayla’s given an ultimatum. Though Shayla’s always tried to avoid trouble, she might be in even more trouble if she can’t face her fear and do what she knows is right, even if someone else has decided it’s wrong.