Books to Start a Conversation
Books to Start a Conversation
A list for families to support conversations about current events, race and racism.
Written and Illustrated By Sarah Lynne Reul
When devastating news rattles a young girl’s community, she tries her hardest to respond to it as compassionately and positively as possible. With the help of her family, her actions reach the people around her in a big way. The author has made a read-aloud available online at her website http://www.reuler.com
BY BREANNA J. MCDANIEL, ILLUSTRATED BY SHANE W. EVANS
A girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march. The author’s website has links to an interview and an article about her inspiration for the book, which includes a peek at the interior illustrations.
BY CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD; ILLUSTRATED BY BRIAN PINKNEY
An African American mother describes her dreams for her newborn son, her hopes for his future and her prayers for his safety. You can see a preview of the book on the publisher’s website.
BY LANGSTON HUGHES, ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLES R. SMITH, JR.
The inspirational words of this celebrated writer’s poem are brought to life through a collection of brilliant sepia-colored photographs throughout capturing the diverse features, hearts and souls of African American children and adults. You can watch the artist discuss his book, or listen to artist Ashley Bryan recite the poem (starting at 2 minutes into the video).
BY ANGELA JOY, ILLUSTRATED BY EKUA HOLMES
A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history and a legacy that lives on. The publisher’s website and the author’s website both have a preview video and enriching materials that go with the book.
by Grace Byers
Shares a story of loving who you are, respecting others and being kind to one another with illustrations of girls from different ethnic backgrounds. The publisher’s website has samples of the book, a book trailer and tips for parents.
BY JACQUELINE WOODSON
When six students are chosen to participate in a weekly talk with no adults allowed, they discover that when they’re together, it’s safe to share the hopes and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. Juv Fiction 10-14
BY SHARON M. DRAPER
Eleven-year-old piano prodigy Isabella, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole. As racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police. Juv Fiction Gr 4-7
BY JEWELL PARKER RHODES
After seventh-grader Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat, he observes the aftermath of his death and meets the ghosts of other fallen black boys, including historical figure Emmett Till. Juv Fiction 8-13
A GRAPHIC NOVEL BY JERRY CRAFT
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. This book opens doors for additional discussion.
BY KEKLA MAGOON
Longing for summertime adventures outside of their small Indiana community, two boys are enthralled by a cool newcomer who enlists their help in a series of escalating trade cons that rapidly put them in over their heads. (Reviews of the book note that the brothers’ dad is protective of them and wants them to stay at home for safety.)
BY LISA MOORE RAMÉE
After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement. But when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity.
BY TORREY MALDONADO
Biracial sixth-grader Stephen questions the limitations society puts on him after he learns about the Black Lives Matter movement and he begins to notice how strangers treat him when he hangs out with his white friends
By Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson says her memoir is about “my past, my people, my memories, my story.” This memoir in verse turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson’s young life into art, through memories of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family. Small things—ice cream from the candy store, her grandfather’s garden, fireflies in jelly jars—become large as she recalls them and translates them into words. She gives context to her life as she writes about racial discrimination, the civil rights movement, and, later, Black Power. But her focus is always on her family.
By Jo Ann Allen Boyce
“In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann–clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students–found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process”