Sunday, June 07, 2020

100 Great Books

100 Great Books with Black Characters


During the last two weeks of protests, I have been unsure what to say on social media. I believe that Black Lives Matter, that the actions of the police and current administration are beyond appalling, and that we all need to band together to insure that all the children in our care as teachers and librarians are seen, respected, and represented in the books that we provide for them.

Having been told growing up that "no one needs to hear what you say", and being conscious of my white privilege, I have done a lot of listening and reading on various social platforms before posting.

My bottom line is always "the right book for the right child at the right time". The idea of books as windows and mirrors is critical for helping students to understand and be accepting of students whose lives are not like theirs. Black authors and educators on Twitter have reminded people not to forget books with Black characters that bring joy. Especially now, when students are stressed, this is important. Children, and adults for that matter, need a break from the constant anxiety of living in current times. Reading has always been an excellent escape.

For ten years, I have put together slide presentations of new books for district professional development. These are usually divided categories or which students ask, such as Mystery, History, Adventure, Speculative Fiction, Sports, etc. and are as diverse as availability allows. This diversity increased greatly in 2014 with the creation of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but the publishing world still does not fairly represent or value all contributors.

Having a diverse collection is hugely important. To make this list, I looked through all the books I have read since about 2011, almost 8,000 titles. Since I am always actively looking for books with nonwhite characters and read everything I can find, this is a sad reflection on the selection of books available for our middle grade students.

Any mistakes are my own. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this list. I hope that this helps, in some small way, to help get books with Black characters into the hands of all readers so that the next generation is able to create a society where everyone is treated with kindness, empathy, and understanding.

Authors included are Black, to the best of my research, although there are about six books that have notes attached as to why the books were included.

100 Great Books with Black Characters



9 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this and for your thoughtful words. I think I'll definitely be referencing this many times.

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  2. This took a lot of time, Karen, divided into categories & with a few notes by each. Thank you!

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  3. This is wonderful. Thank you!

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  4. I've been learning as much as possible while listening and reading the last couple weeks. People are so very angry and divided, here. I am in awe watching the pre-teens and teens in our society discovering how they feel and learning from all that's happening. I hope they are listening and reading and taking the time to question everything they previously thought/believed. We can ALL stand to learn more. Thank you for compiling this list in this slideshow format, Karen. I like how you shared the bullet points of themes. So great!

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  5. Thanks so much for this thoughtfully curated list. I have shared it with all my teacher and teacher librarian friends.

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  6. This list is fantastic and I love that it's separated into genres.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this list!

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  8. Bri Swanson9:34 AM EDT

    You’re amazing! This is an amazing list! Thank you for sharing this!

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