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Middle Grade Books by Black Authors You Should Be Reading

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What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado

What Lane

 

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight

 

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

Roll of Thunder Hear, My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder
Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning masterpiece with cover art by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winner Kadir Nelson and an introduction by Jacqueline Woodson.

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. And it is also Cassie’s story–Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year 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.

The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor

9781101997550
As America hovers on the brink of war, seventeen year-old Cassie Logan fights a battle closer to home. She dreams of college and law school. But no amount of schooling can prepare her for the violent explosion that takes place when her friend Moe lashes out at his white tormentors–an action unheard of in Mississippi as the country prepares for World War II. Moe will be in even greater danger if he stays in town, so it is up to Cassie, her brother, and their friends to accompany Moe on the road to Memphis–and to safety.

Mississippi Bridge by Mildred D. Taylor

9780141308173

Another powerful story in the Logan Family Saga and companion to Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.A day of conflict and tragedy.Cassie Logan and her brothers watch as the weekly bus from Jackson comes splashing through a heavy rainstorm—they are there to see their grandmother off on a trip. One by one, the passengers board the bus. But this is Mississippi in the 1930s, so when several white passengers arrive at the last minute, the driver roughly orders the black passengers off the bus, including Cassie’s grandmother. Then, disaster strikes in the rain, and the children witness a shocking end to the day’s drama.

 

Song of the Trees by Mildred D. Taylor

9780142500750

Another powerful story in the Logan Family Saga and companion to Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

With the depression bearing down on her family, there isn’t much that Cassie Logan can count on anymore.

But there is one thing that hasn’t changed—the whispering trees outside her window. Cassie’s trees, which have stood for centuries, are a great source of comfort to her. But they are also worth a lot of money. With Cassie’s daddy gone to lay tracks for the railroad, it seems like no one can stop Mr. Andersen from forcing Big Ma to sell their valuable trees. How can Cassie sit by and watch them disappear? The beloved heroine of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry enchants us again in this story of strength and pride.

 

The Well by Mildred D. Taylor

9780140386424

Another powerful story in the Logan Family Saga and companion to Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

For David Logan, a time of distress means taking the higher road. 

During a drought, the Logan family shares their well water with their neighbors, black and white alike. But David’s brother Hammer finds it hard to share with Charlie Simms, who torments them because they are black. Hammer’s pride and Charlie’s meanness are a dangerous combination, and tensions between the boys build and build—until they explode.

 

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor

9781101997567

The son of a prosperous landowner and a former slave, Paul-Edward Logan is unlike any other boy he knows. His white father has acknowledged him and raised him openly-something unusual in post-Civil War Georgia. But as he grows into a man he learns that life for someone like him is not easy. Black people distrust him because he looks white. White people discriminate against him when they learn of his black heritage. Even within his own family he faces betrayal and degradation. So at the age of fourteen, he sets out toward the only dream he has ever had: to find land every bit as good as his father’s, and make it his own. Once again inspired by her own history, Ms. Taylor brings truth and power to the newest addition to the award-winning Logan family stories.

 

The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor

9780140389647

Another powerful story in the Logan Family Saga and companion to Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Cassie Logan and her brothers have been warned never to go to the Wallace store. 

So they know to expect trouble there. What they don’t expect is to hear Mr. Tom Bee, an elderly black man, daring to call the white storekeeper by his first name. The year is 1933, the place is Mississippi, and any child knows that some things just aren’t done. Can a shared past between the two men make a difference?

 

The Gold Cadillac by Mildred D. Taylor

9780140389630

Another powerful story in the Logan Family Saga and companion to Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

A drive South becomes dangerous for ‘lois and her family.

‘Lois and Wilma are proud of their father’s brand-new gold Cadillac, and excited that the family will be driving it all the way from Ohio to Mississippi. But as they travel deeper into the rural South, there are no admiring glances for the shiny new car; only suspicion and anger for the black man behind the wheel. For the first time in their lives, Lois and her sister know what it’s like to feel scared because of the color of their skin.

 

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods

Unsung Hero of Birdsong

 

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods

Saint Louis

A boy, a dog, and New Orleans’ most famous storm—Hurricane Katrina.

Saint is a boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing clarinet for the New Orleans tourists, and his best friend is a stray dog named Shadow. At first Saint is sure that Hurricane Katrina will be just like the last one–no big deal. But then the city is ordered to evacuate and Saint refuses to leave without Shadow. Saint and Shadow flee to his neighbor’s attic–and soon enough it’s up to Saint to save them all.

“Woods takes us right into New Orleans, right into the eye of the storm and the heart of New Orleans’ people.” — Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winnng author of Brown Girl Dreaming

 

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods

9780147514301

Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is biracial, but she lives with her white mother and sister, attends a mostly white school in a white town, and sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. Now that she’s eleven, she feels it’s time to learn about her African American heritage, so she seeks out her paternal grandmother. When Violet is invited to spend two weeks with her new Bibi (Swahili for “grandmother”) and learns about her lost heritage, her confidence in herself grows and she discovers she’s not a shrinking Violet after all. From a Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author, this is a powerful story about a young girl finding her place in the world.

 

Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods

9780425288917

Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods introduces introverted, daydream-prone Zoe, who’s afraid her real life will never be as exciting as her imaginary one.

Zoe Reindeer considers herself “just Zoe”—never measuring up to her too-perfect older sister or her smarty-pants little brother. Truthfully, though, she’d rather just blend in with the plants at the family business, Doc Reindeer’s Exotic Plant Wonderland. She does have one friend, Q, and he’s the best one ever—but he’s moving away, leaving Zoe to fend for herself, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. That is until a tall astronomer from Madagascar comes to the nursery looking for a Baobab tree. His visit starts a ball rolling that makes Zoe long for real adventures, not just imaginary ones—and shows her that perhaps her first real adventure is finally beginning.

 

Jazmin’s Notebook by Nikki Grimes

9780141307022

Jazmin Shelby was “born with clenched fists”-which is okay, since she’s got a lot of fighting ahead of her. Her dad died a couple of years back, and now that her mom’s in the hospital, it’s just her and her big sister, CeCe. But that’s fine by Jazmin. She’s got her friends, her school, lots of big plans for the future-and a zest for life and laughter that’s impossible to resist.

 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

9780147515827

Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner, now available in paperback with 7 all-new poems.

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

A President Obama “O” Book Club pick

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. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

 

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Feathers

A beautiful and moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author

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

“Hope is the thing with feathers” starts the poem Frannie is reading in school. Frannie hasn’t thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more “holy.” There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And although the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he’s not white. Who is he?

During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light—her brother Sean’s deafness, her mother’s fear, the class bully’s anger, her best friend’s faith and her own desire for “the thing with feathers.”

Jacqueline Woodson once again takes readers on a journey into a young girl’s heart and reveals the pain and the joy of learning to look beneath the surface.

 

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me

 

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

9780142415528

 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

9780399545436

 

Between Madison and Palmetto by Jacqueline Woodson

9780698119581
Margaret and Maizon are back together on Madison Street, but their friendship is different now. Margaret needs more time alone, and it’s not just the two of them any more-their new neighbor and classmate, Caroline, has become part of their lives. But that seems minor next to what is about to happen to Maizon. . . .

 

Last Summer with Maizon by Jacqueline Woodson

9780698119291

Margaret loves her parents and hanging out with her best friend, Maizon. Then it happens, like a one-two punch, during the summer she turns eleven: first, Margaret’s father dies of a heart attack, and then Maizon is accepted at an expensive boarding school, far away from the city they call home. For the first time in her life, Margaret has to turn to someone who isn’t Maizon, who doesn’t know her heart and her dreams. . . .

 

Maizon at Blue Hill by Jacqueline Woodson

9780698119574

Maizon takes the biggest step in her life when she accepts a scholarship to boarding school and says good-bye to her grandmother and her best friend, Margaret. Blue Hill is beautiful, and challenging-but there are only five black students, and the other four are from wealthy families. Does Maizon belong at Blue Hill after all?

 

Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

9780142415535

 

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

9780142415122

 

Lifting as We Climb by Evette Dionne

Lifting as We Climb

For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle.

An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement–when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle.

Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Alice Paul. The Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. The 1913 Women’s March in D.C. When the epic story of the suffrage movement in the United States is told, the most familiar leaders, speakers at meetings, and participants in marches written about or pictured are generally white.

That’s not the real story.

Women of color, especially African American women, were fighting for their right to vote and to be treated as full, equal citizens of the United States. Their battlefront wasn’t just about gender. African American women had to deal with white abolitionist-suffragists who drew the line at sharing power with their black sisters. They had to overcome deep, exclusionary racial prejudices that were rife in the American suffrage movement. And they had to maintain their dignity–and safety–in a society that tried to keep them in its bottom ranks.

Lifting as We Climb is the empowering story of African American women who refused to accept all this. Women in black church groups, black female sororities, black women’s improvement societies and social clubs. Women who formed their own black suffrage associations when white-dominated national suffrage groups rejected them. Women like Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and of the NAACP; or educator-activist Anna Julia Cooper who championed women getting the vote and a college education; or the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, a leader in both the suffrage and anti-lynching movements.

Author Evette Dionne, a feminist culture writer and the editor-in-chief of Bitch Media, has uncovered an extraordinary and underrepresented history of black women. In her powerful book, she draws an important historical line from abolition to suffrage to civil rights to contemporary young activists–filling in the blanks of the American suffrage story.

 

IKENGA by Nnedi Okorafor

9780593113523

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

9781984837066

 

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

9780525516866

 

 

 

#ShelfGoals

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Excerpt Alert: WE ARE NOT FROM HERE

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Start reading HARROW LAKE by Kat Elis

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What to read if you’re not over The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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Read an excerpt of When I Am Through With You

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Start Reading CHEMICAL HEARTS by Krystal Sutherland!

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Books to Read for Latinx Heritage Month

September 15-October 15 is Latinx Heritage Month. We’re inviting you to join us in reading stories by Latinx authors–and if you don’t know where to start, here are a few of our recommendations!   We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez A poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, … Continued
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