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Black Lives Matter: Our librarian’s reading tips for the autumn break

“This display was inspired by the racial and social justice discussions and initiatives that are happening at school," says librarian Urania. " So I thought the library could contribute by exposing the students to some relevant fiction and nonfiction literature on this important topic giving them an overview of the issue that is not a new one as books like 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock' can attest. I also picked some stories, like 'Wishtree' which is a tale of acceptance and embracing differences. I hope the students will get informed and inspired by those books!”


Heuchan, Claire. What is race? who are racists? why does skin colour matter? and other big questions. London : Wayland, 2018.
Talk about race is often discouraged, but this title aims to bring everyone into the conversation. Exploring the history of race and society and giving context to how racist attitudes come into being, the book looks at belonging and identity, the damaging effects of stereotyping and the benefits of positive representation. The authors talk sensitively about how to identify and challenge racism, and how to protect against and stop racist behaviour.

McWhorter, Diane. A dream of freedom : the Civil Rights movement from 1954 to 1968. New York : Scholastic Nonfiction, c2004.
Examines the rise of the Civil Rights movement in America, the men and women whose lives made an impact in the pursuit of social and political equality, and landmark Supreme Court cases that changed the fabric of American society in the mid-to-late twentieth century.

Margolick, David. Elizabeth and Hazel : two women of Little Rock. New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, c2011.
Offers insight into the lives of Elizabeth Eckford, an African American woman who was one of the Little Rock Nine, and Hazel Bryan, a woman who attended Little Rock Central High School and was photographed shouting racial epithets at Elizabeth outside of the school, and looks at the impact of their reconciliation on the lives of these two women and on the community.

Myers, Walter Dean, 1937-. Bad boy : a memoir. 1st HarperTempest ed. New York : HarperTempest, 2002, c2001.
Author Walter Dean Myers describes his childhood in Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s, discussing his loving stepmother, his problems in school, his reasons for leaving home, and his beginnings as a writer.

Picture Books (Kindergarten to Grade 3)

Mandela, Zindzi, 1960- author. Grandad Mandela.
Zazi and Ziwelene ask their grandmother about the life of her father Nelson Mandela and how he came to be president of South Africa.

Myers, Walter Dean, 1937-. Looking like me. New York : Egmont USA, 2009.
Jeremy sets out to discover all of the different "people" that make him who he is, including brother, son, writer, and runner.

Woodson, Jacqueline. The day you begin. New York, NY : Nancy Paulsen Books, [2018].
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.

Woodson, Jacqueline. The other side. New York : Putnam's, c2001.
Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.

Fiction (Middle and High School)

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, 1947-. What color is my world? : the lost history of African-American inventors. 1st ed. in this format. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2013.
While twins Ella and Herbie help the handyman Mr. Midal work on their new home, he tells them about such inventors as Granville Woods, Dr. Henry T. Sampson, and James West, giving them a new view of their heritage as African-Americans.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains : Seeds of America. 1st ed. New York : Scholastic, 2009.
After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Applegate, Katherine. Wishtree. 1st ed., 2017. New York : Feiwel and Friends, 2017.
An old red oak tree tells how he and his crow friend, Bongo, help their human neighbors get along after a threat against an immigrant family is carved into the tree's trunk.

Blackman, Malorie. Checkmate. London : Corgi Books, 2005.
Callie rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors...when Rose unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous deadly game...

Blackman, Malorie. Noughts & crosses. London : Corgi Books, c2001.
Callum and Sephy played together as small children, and their love is forbidden, now he is a second class citizen, a member of the naughts, and she is a cross, a part of the ruling elite, but when Sephy and her mother are nearly caught in a terrorist bombing and Callum's father is the prime suspect, more than there love is tested.

Burg, Shana. A thousand never evers. 1st Yearling ed. New York : Yearling, c2008.
As the civil rights movement in the South gains momentum in 1963 and violence against African-Americans intensifies, residents of the small town of Kuckachoo, Mississippi, including seventh-grader Addie Ann Pickett, begin their own courageous struggle for racial justice.

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. 25th anniversary ed. Boston : Beacon Press, [2003], c1979.
A young African-American woman is mysteriously transferred back in time leading to an irresistible curiosity about her family's past.

Devoto, Pat Cunningham. The summer we got saved. 1st trade ed. New York : Warner Books, 2006, c2005.
Three residents of a small Southern town find their lives forever changed as they face the issue of integration in the 1960s.

Frank, Steven, 1963-. Armstrong & Charlie. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2017].
"During the pilot year of a Los Angeles school system integration program, two sixth grade boys, one black, one white, become best friends as they learn to cope with everything from first crushes and playground politics to the loss of loved ones and racial prejudice in the 1970s"--Provided by publisher.

Jackson, Linda Williams. Midnight without a moon. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2017].
Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.

Johnson, Angela. Heaven. 1st Aladdin Paperbacks ed. New York : Aladdin Paperbacks, 2000, c1998.
Fourteen-year-old Marley's seemingly perfect life in the small town of Heaven is disrupted when she discovers that her father and mother are not her real parents.

Johnston, Tony, 1942-. Bone by bone by bone. 1st ed. New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2007.
In 1950s Tennessee, ten-year-old David's racist father refuses to let him associate with his best friend Malcolm, an African American boy.

Kidd, Sue Monk, author. The invention of wings : a novel.
"The story follows Hetty "Handful" Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah's eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid and follows the next thirty-five years of their lives"--Provided by publisher.

Kidd, Sue Monk. The secret life of bees. New York : Penguin Books, 2008, c2002.
Fourteen-year-old Lily and Rosaleen, the African-American woman who has loved her like a mother since she was four, flee their home after Rosaleen is victimized by racist police officers and find a safe haven in Tiburon, South Carolina, at the home of three eccentric beekeeping sisters. Includes a reader's guide.

Latham, Jennifer. Dreamland burning : a novel. 1st trade pbk. ed.: January 2018. New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2018.
"When Rowan finds a skeleton on her family's property, investigating the brutal, century-old murder leads to painful discoveries about the past. Alternating chapters tell the story of William, another teen grappling with the racial firestorm leading up to the 1921 Tulsa race riot, providing some clues to the mystery"--Provided by publisher.

Lee, Harper. To kill a mockingbird. 35th anniversary ed. New York : HarperCollins, 1995, c1060.
Eight-year-old Scout Finch tells of life in a small Alabama town where her father is a lawyer.
Lockington, Mariama. For black girls like me. 1st ed. New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2019.
"Eleven-year-old Makeda dreams of meeting her African American mother, while coping with serious problems in her white adopted family, a cross-country move, and being homeschooled"--Provided by publisher.

Morrison, Toni. The bluest eye. London : Vintage, 1999.

Myers, Walter Dean, 1937-. Scorpions. 1st HarperTrophy ed. New York : HarperTrophy, 1990, c1988.
After reluctantly taking on the leadership of the Harlem gang, the Scorpions, Jamal finds that his enemies treat him with respect when he acquires a gun--until a tragedy occurs.

Naidoo, Beverley. Burn my heart. 1st U.S. ed. New York : Amistad, 2009, c2007.
While the Mau Mau rebellion threatens the British settlers living in Kenya during the 1950s, Mathew and Mugo maintain their friendship, despite their different races, but during these tense times, a single act of betrayal could alter everything.

Naidoo, Beverley. The other side of truth. 1st U.S. ed. New York : HarperCollins, 2001.
Smuggled out of Nigeria after their mother's murder, Sade and her younger brother are abandoned in London when their uncle fails to meet them at the airport and they are fearful of their new surroundings and of what may have happened to their journalist father back in Nigeria.

Shabazz, Ilyasah. Betty before X. 1st Square Fish ed. New York : Square Fish, 2018.
"Raised by her aunt until she is six, Betty, who will later marry Malcolm X, joins her mother and stepfamily in 1940s Detroit, where she learns about the civil rights movement"--Provided by publisher.

Sharenow, Rob. My mother the cheerleader : a novel. 1st ed. New York : Laura Geringer Books, c2007.
Thirteen-year-old Louise uncovers secrets about her family and her neighborhood during the violent protests over school desegregation in 1960 New Orleans.

Stone, Nic. Dear Martin. 1st ed. New York : Crown, [2017].
"Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him"--Provided by publisher.

Thomas, Angie, author. The hate u give. First edition.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster. New York : Putnam's, c2008.
In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Hush. New York : Scholastic, 2003, c2002.
Twelve-year-old Toswiah finds her life changed when her family enters the witness protection program.

Graphic Novel (Middle School)

Craft, Jerry. New kid. 1st ed. New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019].
"Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his friends and staying true to himself?"--Provided by publisher.

Stassen, Jean-Philippe. Deogratias : a tale of Rwanda. 1st American ed. New York : First Second, 2006.
A graphic novel that describes the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1994 through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias, a Hutu, who is in love with Benigne, a Tutsi.

Tonatiuh, Duncan. Separate is never equal : Sylvia Mendez & her family's fight for desegregation. New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2014.
"Years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez, an eight-year-old girl of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, played an instrumental role in Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark desegregation case of 1946 in California"--Provided by publisher.