Black History Month is here, and now, more than ever, we need to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have left a mark on black history and acknowledge that there is still work (and reading!) to do. Luckily, we have a long list of books to explore. Read on for some of our favorite books that deserve a re-read this month.
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
If You Come Softly celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year (and is getting a fantastic new cover!). If you’ve read and loved Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, you need to read If You Come Softly, a story of a two teens from different worlds who collide at a Manhattan prep school. In If You Come Softly, Woodson delivers a powerful story of interracial love that leaves readers wondering “why” and “if only . . .”
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. Her memoir shows today’s young readers that fighting nonviolently can change American history.
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots. If she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as white, Ida might have a chance to fulfill her dream.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson
Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. How I Discovered Poetry is an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her.
Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. It is also Cassie’s story–an independent girl who discovers why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.
American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
Connor’s grandmother leaves his dad a letter when she dies, and the letter’s confession shakes their tight-knit Italian-American family: The man who raised Dad is not his birth father. Connor takes it upon himself to investigate—a pursuit that becomes even more pressing when Dad is hospitalized after a stroke. What Connor discovers will lead him and his father to a new, richer understanding of race, identity, and each other.
Looking for more recommendations? Check out this list of books by women of color coming out this year!