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Great Reads for Young People for Black History Month

Written by Regina Fried on . Posted in All, Announcements, Children, Reading

If you’re looking for great reads for young people for Black History Month, we recommend the following books. All were recently honored by the American Library Association during the 2017 ALA Youth Media Awards.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
– illustrated and written by Javaka Steptoe

“Like Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, Steptoe’s illustrations radiate energy and immediacy. A patch-worked canvas of scavenged wood, painted and collaged with photos, and images of human anatomy, evokes the improvisatory nature of Basquiat’s art. ‘Radiant Child’ resonates with emotion that connects Steptoe with Basquiat and Basquiat with young readers.” Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award

Freedom in Congo Square
– illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and written by Carole Boston Weatherford

“As they work throughout the week, slaves look forward to their afternoon of music, hope, and community in Congo Square, New Orleans. Christie’s folk-art inspired paint and collage images powerfully capture the emotions of this little-known historical event. Vibrant color and brilliant use of line heighten the impact of the rhyming couplets.” Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor (Illustrator)

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life
– written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

“Inspired by an 1828 estate appraisement, Ashley Bryan honors the lives of eleven slaves in poetry and collage. Conveying the terror of the patterroller and the hope of voices raised in song, Bryan imagines for each person a life of oppression and a dream for freedom.” John Newbery Medal Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor (Author), and Coretta Scott King Honor (Illustrator)

In Plain Sight
– illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and written by Richard Jackson

“An African-American girl named Sophie shares a brownstone with her parents and her wheelchair-bound grandfather, ‘who lives by the window.’ He’s always there to wave goodbye as she boards the school bus, and he’s waiting to play a special game of hide-and-seek when she returns: Grandpa pretends to have lost an object, and intrepid Sophie locates each one, hidden in plain sight.” Coretta Scott King Honor (Illustrator)

March: Book Three
– written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell

“Beginning with a dream sequence that depicts the police crackdown on the 1965 Selma-Montgomery March, this memoir then cuts to Congressman John Lewis’s preparations on the day of President Obama’s inauguration. Lewis provides perspective on the occasion, explaining and describing his own religious and desegregationalist origins in Alabama, his early meeting with Dr. King, and his training as a nonviolent protester.” Winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Robert F. Silbert Informational Book Award and the YALSA Award for Nonfiction for Young Adults

As Brave as You
– written by Jason Reynolds

“The story of Genie and Ernie, two Brooklyn boys spending a month with their grandparents in North Hill, Va., while their parents try to mend a frayed marriage.” Coretta Scott King Honor (Author)

The Sun is Also a Star
– written by Nicola Yoon

“Is it fate or chance that brings people together? This is the question posed in this impressively multilayered tale of a one-day romance featuring practical Natasha, whose family is facing deportation to Jamaica, and Daniel, a first-generation Korean American with a poet’s sensibility.” Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award for New Talent and Michael L. Printz Honor

Shadow Liberty: the Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents and Five Black Lives
– written by Kenneth C. Davis

“In a clear-eyed, well-researched work, Davis looks at the relationship between five enslaved persons and the former presidents who considered them property. Utilizing personal narratives, census data, images, and other primary source material, this book explains a heartbreaking chapter in American history that is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.” YALSA Award for Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist

Bronx Masquerade
– written by Nikki Grimes, Recipient of the 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

“Using the structure of a poetry slam, Nikki Grimes’ award-winning novel is a powerful exploration of self, an homage to spoken-word poetry, and an intriguing look into the life of eighteen urban teens.”

More on the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards.

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