Children Books to Celebrate Black Identity

I shared some books regarding how to teach children about race and racism earlier this week but I wanted to also share books to celebrate Black identity. I think it is important to share different narratives for Black people and not just one of pain and suffering. The links will all take you to Eso Won Books, a Black owned bookstore in Los Angeles.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, Vashti Harrison (Illustrator)

When mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to do his daughter’s hair in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters from former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestseller Vashti Harrison.

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When mommy does Zuri’s hair, she feels like a superhero. But when mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to step in! And even though daddy has a lot to learn, he LOVES his Zuri. And he’ll do anything to make her—and her hair—happy.

Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair—and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere. 

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Vashti Harrison (Illustrator) 

A picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller   

An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.

It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens…until, finally, Aria has had enough!

Author-illustrator Sharee Miller takes the tradition of appreciation of black hair to a new, fresh, level as she doesn’t seek to convince or remind young readers that their curls are beautiful–she simply acknowledges black beauty while telling a fun, imaginative story. 

Brown Boy Joy by Thomishia Booker 

This book is filled with all the things little brown boys love. This book is also available in Spanish.

Happy to Be Nappy by Bell hooks, Chris Raschka (Illustrator) 

Bell hooks and Chris Raschka join together to create an exuberant, rhythmic, read-aloud celebration about the joy and beauty of “nappy” hair.

Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson, Rhonda Mitchell (Illustrator) 

“This story…consists of four short verses about the happy home life of a young African-American boy. Family love and the shared stories and symbols that connect the generations are pervasive themes.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, Ebony Glenn (Illustrator)

Tameika is an African American girl who loves musical and dreams of starring in one as a princess one day. But she fears that having brown skin and a plump frame might keep her from her dreams.

Books to teach Children about Race and Anti-Racism

I guest blogged for early educators on how to introduce diversity and differences to children through the use of books. I thought it was important to also show you all how to introduce the topic of race and racism to children through the use of books.

Something I’ve seen many people struggle with is how to introduce the topic of diversity and differences to young children. How do we introduce the topic of race to children? How do we teach them about anti-racism? How do we make this topic age appropriate?

I’ve found that a great way to introduce the topic of race and racism to children is through the use of books. Books are a great way to get children talking about many things and a great way to simplify what we may call “difficult” subjects. We can use certain books in order to start a conversation and give children the opportunity to ask questions meaning that all we have to do is continue that conversation by answering their questions or asking more questions.

Don’t be afraid to start these discussions in our classrooms and with your children, there are so many ways to do this. These books are a great start but something else you can do is make sure to read books written by Black people to all children. Read books that celebrate Black people along with books that teach about race and racism.


Here are a few books I feel would be a great way for you to discuss race and racism with children. All links will take you to Eso Won Books, a Black owned bookstore in Los Angeles, or Bookshop, where I recommend supporting The Lit Bar, a Black owned bookstore in the Bronx.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson , Rafael López  (Illustrator) 

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Skin I’m in: A First Look at Racism a First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (Illustrator)

Racial discrimination is cruel–and especially so to younger children. This title encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves. A First Look At… is an easy-to-understand series of books for younger children. Each title explores emotional issues and discusses the questions such difficulties invariably raise among kids of preschool through early school age. Written by a psychotherapist and child counselor, each title promotes positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. The books are written in simple, direct language that makes sense to younger kids. Each title also features a guide for parents on how to use the book, a glossary, suggested additional reading, and a list of resources. There are attractive full-color illustrations on every page. (Ages 4-7)

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, Raúl Colón (Illustrator)

In this Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family–and thousands of others–in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Poignant, moving, and hopeful, this is an intimate look at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside by Kenneth Braswell 

This engaging story begins when two children are awakened by noises in the middle of the night outside the window of their inner-city neighborhood. Both their Dad and Mom spend the next morning explaining to them what was taking place in their community.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson , E.B. Lewis (Illustrator) 

Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner, Richard Rudnicki  (Illustrator) 

In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: “You people have to sit in the upstairs section.” Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s black community. Vibrant illustrations and oral-style prose tell Viola’s story with sympathy and historical accuracy. 

Non-Fiction Books about Racism to Read

I don’t know how to put my thoughts into words about the injustice that occurs on a regular basis towards Black people. There is just so much to say and I find it better to in these cases to listen to the voices of Black people. What I do know is that things have to change. I had to do something though and creating this list for you all is one of the things that I could do. Pick up one of these books or more to learn more, and to work towards understanding.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 

Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 

Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”

As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them.

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.

In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the repose to Michael Brown’s death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown’s family and the families of other victims other victims’ families as well as local activists. By posing the question, “What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?” Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs.

Studded with moments of joy, and tragedy, They Can’t Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community’s long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination. They Can’t Kill Us All grapples with a persistent if also largely unexamined aspect of the otherwise transformative presidency of Barack Obama: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to those Americans most in need of both.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad 

Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey of how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #meandwhitesupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and nearly 100,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

Updated and expanded from the original workbook, Me and White Supremacy,takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ that led to this book.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo 

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

“Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity by Beverly Daniel Tatum 

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

Diverse Books Published May 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson 

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. 

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Once Upon an Eid by S.K. Ali  (Editor), Aisha Saeed (Editor), Randa Abdel-Fattah, Huda Al-Marashi, Sara Alfageeh, Hanna Alkaf , Ashley Franklin , Asmaa Hussein, Hena Khan, Rukhsana Khan , Ayesha Mattu , Candice Montgomery, N.H. Senzai , Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, G. Willow Wilson

Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina’s Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos 

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender 

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

What diverse books are you looking forward to reading?

Books to read to support Autistic Authors for Autism Acceptance Month

I know the month is almost over but I wanted to make sure that I gave you all some options on how to support Autistic people this month and beyond. Try to read one of these books before this month ends or read these at any time of the year, there is no reason to limit when you read a book. There is a lot more options for you if none of these sound like something you would enjoy, just go to Goodreads and search for books by autistic authors.

Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby 

As one of the only remaining autistics in the universe, Xandri Corelel has faced a lot of hardship, and she’s earned her place as the head of Xeno-Liaisons aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. But her skill at negotiating with alien species is about to be put to the ultimate test.

The Anmerilli, a notoriously reticent and xenophobic people, have invented a powerful weapon that will irrevocably change the face of space combat. Now the Starsystems Alliance has called in Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia to mediate. The Alliance won’t risk the weapon falling into enemy hands, and if Xandri can’t bring the Anmerilli into the fold, the consequences will be dire.

Amidst sabotage, assassination attempts, and rampant cronyism, Xandri struggles to convince the doubtful and ornery Anmerilli. Worse, she’s beginning to suspect that not everyone on her side is really working to make the alliance a success. As tensions rise and tempers threaten to boil over, Xandri must focus all her energy into understanding the one species that has always been beyond her: her own.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang 

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison 

Ever since he was small, John Robison had longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings pickling himself in sherry. It was no wonder he gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on.

After fleeing his parents and dropping out of high school, his savant-like ability to visualize electronic circuits landed him a gig with KISS, for whom he created their legendary fire-breathing guitars. Later, he drifted into a “real” job, as an engineer for a major toy company. But the higher Robison rose in the company, the more he had to pretend to be “normal” and do what he simply couldn’t: communicate. It wasn’t worth the paycheck.

It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself—and the world.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde 

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

2020 Books to read for Black History Month

I felt like every time I read a book that starred a black characters the premise was the same, it was always about police brutality. I want to read books that show another story for black people since I know they dont just have one narrative so I went and looked for them. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed or plan on reading this month and throughout the year. Click the titles for my full review of the books. You can check out my instagram this month for more books written by black authors.

Red at The Bone by Jaqueline Woodson

Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithewaite

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

The Water Dancerby Ta-Nehisi Coates

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Favorite Books I Read as Required Reading

I hate required reading much like most people and automatically write off a book if its required reading. Once in a while though I did stumble across a book that I really enjoyed. I thought I would share that short list with you especially for those of you who get to select what you read for class. I can also say that most of my required reading in high school I hated because the teachers said I interpreted everything wrong. I now know better and that there is more than one way to read a book.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
 
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. 

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Robert Bray

No play in the modern theatre has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. As Williams’s first popular success, it launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career, of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, Menagaerie has been the bravura piece for great actresses from Jessica Tandy to Joanne Woodward, and is studied and performed in classrooms and theatres around the world.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Books by Latinx Authors about Immigration

There’s a book coming out soon that I will not be reading because I want to listen to #ownvoices reviews on this book and the feelings it causes through my community. As a Latinx person who doesn’t share the immigrant experience I feel it part of my responsibility to listen to those who have that experience, and to read reviews written by them especially if a book is talking about their experience. It is even more of our responsibility to listen to #ownvoices when the book isn’t written by someone who shares that experience. It was because of that I decided to create a post that highlights books by Latinx authors.

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

From the two-time NBCC Finalist, an emotionally resonant, fiercely imaginative new novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border–an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity.

A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home.

Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father.

In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained–or lost in the desert along the way.

As the family drives–through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas–we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure–both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.

Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz

Ordinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery–the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes–will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.

At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamá fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero, Michelle Burford

Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told. Written with Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families likes the author’s and on a system that fails them over and over. 

Which books do you all recommend?

October Wrap-Up

I’m sorry that this is coming to you all late but it’s been a super busy start of November and ending to October. I still wanted to share with you all everything that I got a chance to read and what I thought about it.

Light It Up By Kekla Magoon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was so moving and addressed such important and real issues. It addressed the ever-pressing issue of police brutality, and the ongoing problems black people face with Law enforcement just for existing. It does this in a manner that speaks about the issues through multiple different eyes and from all perspectives.

At first, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow with so many characters and so many storylines but that added a lot to the story. I loved hearing from each character and watching how events change them. I loved watching Robb come to the realization he reaches after a very pivotal moment in the story. I also found it sad, moving and a lot to take in to watch so many of the children become adults overnight. I thought it was important that the police officer’s daughter had her viewpoint shown and to see how conflicted she was about the actions of her parents.

Cog By Grey Van Eekhout ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was such a cute read. I loved all the characters and how real they all felt to me. They all felt human to me rather than robots even car, proto, and trash bot. I wanted to hear more about their lives and couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to live in this robot town that they were all from.

I love how Cog interacts with others and how he explains his purpose. I love how he finds he learns by making mistakes and assumes the bigger the mistake the more he’ll learn. I think this is a great book for children grades 2nd to 5th. I think they’ll find great joy in the plot and some of the funny scenes that are included throughout. The lessons that are included are great for this age range and teach them that it’s okay to be unique and stand out. It shows our differences make us human and those differences help us when working with others.

Dear Sweet Pea By Julie Murphy ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoy how this books deals with divorce, sexuality, and body positivity. I like that the book is written for a younger audience because I hardly see books with fat protagonists in them. Something I enjoyed in regards to the body positivity aspect of this book was how the main character and her family made it a point that far wasn’t a bad word. I thought with all the images out there pressuring children especially young girls to be a certain size this was a great way to show that we come in all shapes and sizes and none is any more valuable than the other.

Deception By Teri Terry ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book picks up right where they left us at the end of book 1. This book just keeps developing an even deeper plot and when I think they may be done exploring another level gets revealed. I love how elaborate this supposed virus really is and how the survivors continue discovering more about themselves as time passes. This virus seems to have a mind of its own and I cant wait to find out who the real villain of this story is.

The twists in book 2 just keep getting better and as more is revealed you as a reader keep guessing what’s going to happen now. So much of this book scares me because of how invested I am in certain people and story lines. I love hearing more about Alex, Shay and Callie’s father, and finding the story about this virus unravel as we get to know him.

The Best at It By Malik Pancholy ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved the way that this story dealt with so many topics without it being overwhelming for the age group that it was intended for. I loved how each of the topics was addressed by Rahul’s friends and family and how intertwined his race was with these discussions. I really liked the characters that were included and how they each made Rahul’s differences stand out more than he liked. I thought that was a great way to show the reality of situations like Rahul’s for people his age.

I thought it was so great to read about how Rahul’s Indian background informed his thinking and the things that he did. This is the first book that I’ve read in which the main character is Indian and it was great that this was an #ownvoices book because it read really authentically. I enjoyed the relationship that Rahul had with his family, especially his grandfather, Bhai, and really appreciated that the relationships he had with his family’s friends were included.

Friend or Fiction By Abby Cooper ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love that this book explores the concept of a perfect friendship and how that can be unhealthy too. I really liked how the characters developed over time and how we not only get to know Jade but also Clue’s story and how he fits into Jade’s life.

I loved how they handled jade’s father having cancer and her feelings about it. Jade and Bo’s feelings both felt very real. I liked that they didn’t brush over it but they explored the anger and frustration that came with this family’s grieving.

Freeing Finch By Ginny Rorby ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a book that broke my heart multiple times and then put it back together. The characters were lovable from the start and I didn’t want anything happening to Finch or Maddy. I loved the way that Finch grows into herself and learns how to be herself through so many others. I love the message of a family in this one and how sometimes family looks different than what people might be used to. I really enjoyed how the animals were intertwined in Finch’s story, especially the dog, and what Ben meant to her. I thought it was great to see a story that has a transgender child but isn’t only about their life as a transgender person.

Blood: A Memoir By Allison Moorer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I always find it hard to rate and review a memoir because it is the telling on someone else’s life and how do you judge the recounting of someone’s life. This memoir does a great job of recounting the events of Allison Moorer’s life that lead up to the tragedy of her parent’s death. It was beautifully written and the story was told in a way that you got to watch as she challenged herself through the emotions from her past. The way that the story not only told the events from the past but included reflections about Morrer’s feelings towards those events as an adult with her own child were moments that I thought captured the whole story nicely. I thought it was such a great way to process her emotions and also leave the past in the past because no matter how she dwells on it, what happened there already happened. 

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this book and when I saw others comparing it to The Girls I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it seeing as I wasn’t a fan of that book. There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed though and part of it was the narrator.

I usually hate when I’m confused by the narrator and who is telling the story. This book shifts between telling the story in the 1st person point of view, through Claire’s perspective, and the 3rd person point of view coming from all other characters who play a part in this story. It gets a bit confusing and you start to wonder if maybe the third person is Claire’s view too but her trying to see things how these people would.

Honestly, this book is part of why I love adult fiction especially thrillers. They confuse me so much and I have to process them with others to know what happened. I love that everyone reads a different book and so much is left to the reader’s imagination.

Latinx Heritage Month Book recs

I kept dwelling and putting off this post because I wanted to do it justice. I wanted to make sure the selection I put was good enough but then I felt by putting it off I wasn’t doing it justice. I also kept debating about whether I should still post it since it was past the date for Latinx Heritage Month, but then I came across someone who said we can still read these books after that date. It was that message that helped me decide to post this, these recommendations are still valid even if they are being posted a few days late.

Another thing that made me post this was thinking that without putting it up I would be putting off putting up a part of me and recommending books that mean a lot to me as a Latinx person. They don’t have to be good enough for others but they were all great for me. These books helped me embrace my ethnicity when I was pulling away from it.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

July 24

My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it’s important to wait until you’re married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, “Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas.” Eyes open, legs closed. That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don’t mind it. I don’t necessarily agree with that whole wait until you’re married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can’t tell my mom that because she will think I’m bad. Or worse: trying to be White.

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

Swift as Desire by Laura Esquivel

The hero of this novelis Júbilo Chi, a telegraph operator who is born with the ability to “hear” people’s true feelings and respond to their most intimate, unspoken desires. His life changes forever the day he falls deeply and irrevocably in love with Lucha, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy family. She believes money is necessary to insure happiness, while for Júbilo, who is poor, love and desire are more important than possessions. But their passion for each other enables them to build a happy life together — until their idyll is shattered by a terrible event that drives them bitterly apart. Only years later, as Júbilo lies dying, is his daughter able to unravel the mystery behind her parents’ long estrangement and bring about a surprising reconciliation.

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

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If you’ve read any of these let me know what your thoughts were. You can read my reviews on most of these on my blog or on GoodReads.