Happy February, readers! I am so excited to share books with you today that celebrate Black History month. This week is going to be cold, especially for us Texans, so it will be a perfect time to curl up with a good book. If you would like to read additional books to celebrate Black History Month, view a list of websites at the end of this blog post. Happy reading and stay warm, dear readers!
President Barack Obama and the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, each have their own memoirs, giving an inside look at their life behind the public eye. Fans of audiobooks will be pleased to know that the memoirs are narrated by the famous authors themselves.
Title: A Promised Land
Author: Barack Obama
Publication Date: January 2020
A Promised Land is President Barack Obama’s first volume about his life and time in The White House as President of the United States. A Promised Land is an NAACP Image Award Finalist, a #1 New York Times Bestseller and named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, Marie Claire, The Guardian and NPR. Purchase a copy here.
Author: Michelle Obama
Publication Date: November 2018
Becoming is an Oprah’s Book Club selection, an NAACP Image Award Winner and a #1 New York Times Bestseller. The Netflix documentary based on the book was nominated for an Emmy. Michelle Obama’s memoir is simply stunning.
Click here to purchase a copy. To read about her new, upcoming Netflix series, Waffles+Mochi (March 16), that encourages healthy eating for children, click here.
I have been selecting books during the past few months for college students by reading lists from Buzzfeed, PopSugar, and Publishers Weekly. I have scrolled through hundreds of blogs and various publication websites. The next book on the list is what I believe to be a treasure and a must read for any American history class.
Title: The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song
Author: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. tells his personal story of the safe haven the Black Church has provided for him. Gates covers five centuries of the Black Church and its impact on the Black community, beginning with the time of slavery to present day.
Click here to visit the PBS site and to purchase a copy of the book. The Black Church documentary is hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and airs on PBS Tuesday, February 16th and Wednesday, February 17th.
I love Jenna Bush Hager’s Book Club. One of her most popular picks to date is The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Publication Date: June 2020
The Vanishing Half is a novel about twin sisters who grew up a small, southern Black community. One sister stays in the same small town raising her daughter. The other sister secretly passes for white, marries and keeps her past hidden from her white husband. The story takes place from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. The Vanishing Half is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, chosen as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year and named a Best Book of 2020 by TIME Magazine, Vanity Fair, People, Glamour, NPR and The Washington Post.
Click here to purchase a copy and click here to read author Brit Bennett’s Black History Month book selections for 2021. For additional Jenna Bush Hager’s Book Club selections, click here. The Vanishing Half is set to be adapted into a HBO miniseries. No release date has been announced at this point, as it is still in production.
Angie Smith has made herself a household name with her book, The Hate U Give. The author has a new book debut, Concrete Rose, which is the prequel to The Hate U Give. Her books are perfect for teens and adults.
Title: Concrete Rose
Author: Angie Thomas
Publication Date: January 2021
Maverick Carter is responsible for taking care of his mom while his dad is in prison. He follows in his dad’s footsteps by dealing for the gang, King of Lords, which is the only way he knows how to provide for his family. His life becomes more complicated when he becomes a dad at the age of 17. Purchase a copy here.
Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Smith
Publication Date: February 2017
Starr is torn between two worlds-her fancy prep school and the poor neighborhood where she lives. She experiences tragedy when she witnesses her best friend, Khalil, being fatally shot by a police officer. Protests begin and everyone in Starr’s life has questions as to what really happened that night.
The Hate U Give was chosen as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a William C. Morris Award Winner, a National Book Award Longlist, a Printz Honor Book and a Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best. Purchase a copy here. Click here to rent the movie on Amazon Prime or watch with a Hulu subscription.
My next book selection for the blog post is a collection of essays written by some of the most popular authors for youth that address the challenges of being young and Black in America today.
Title: Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America
Editor: Ibi Zoboi
Contributors: Rita Williams-Garcia, Justina Ireland, Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds, Leah Henderson, Lamar Giles, Tracey Baptisite, Brandy Colbert, Ibi Zoboi, Liara Tamani, Tochi Onyebuchi, Kekla Magoon, Dhonielle Clayton and Varian Johnson
Title: Between the World and Me
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates
Publication Date: 2015
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an intimate, powerful letter from a father to his teenage son about what it means to be Black in America. He writes from his own experience and others. Between the World and Me is a National Book Award Winner, named a must read by Toni Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, a National Book Critics Award Finalist and named One of the Best Books of the Decade by CNN.
Title: The Coming Race Wars: A Cry for Justice, from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter
Author: William Pannell
Publication Date: June 2021
The Coming Race Wars was a controversial book when it was originally published in 1993 after the Los Angeles riots. Many critics regarded William Pannell, author and Fuller Seminary theologian, as an “alarmist.” Pannell updates his 1993 publication to tie in with current events and speaks openly about his love for the church, which he believes need to take a deeper look at institutional racism and unjust systems still going on today. Click here to pre-order.
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club has become increasingly popular the past few years. My next book is one of her selections.
Title: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Author: Austin Channing Brown
Publication Date: May 2018
Austin Channing Brown writes about her experience as a young, Black female in America during a time when nearly all institutions claim to be diverse, but are failing. Brown found out at the tender age of 7 that her parents named her Austin so employers would think she was a white man. Her stunning and intimate memoir details her experience navigating racial divide and assisting organizations to practice genuine inclusion. I’m Still Here is a New York Times Bestseller and a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection. Click here to purchase a copy and click here to view additional selections from Reese Witherspoon.
My next book is a selection from the Book Club Queen, Oprah Winfrey. I have read so many books from her list and have never been disappointed. I can’t wait to read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitizer-Prize winning author of Warmth and Other Suns.
Title: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Publication Date: August 2020
Wilkerson writes about the unspoken, powerful caste system that has always existed in history by linking America, India and Nazi Germany. Caste is a look at how hierarchy influences human lives and the nation today.
Caste is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, a #1 Nonfiction Book by TIME Magazine and chosen as One of the Best Books of the Year Award by People, NPR, The Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Smithsonian Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Slate and several others. Click here to purchase copy and click here to read about the upcoming special on Netflix. To learn more about Caste, view the Oprah’s Book Club special on Apple TV.
I enjoy choosing fiction books for our students to encourage the love of reading. This next book is based on the true story of one of the first Black female doctors in America.
Author: Kaitlyn Greenidge
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Libertie Sampson is born during the Reconstruction-era in America. Her mother encourages Libertie to become a practicing physician so they can run a joint practice in the future. Instead of listening to her mother, she marries and moves to Haiti, with the promise that she will be her spouse’s equal. Libertie arrives on the island only to find out that she is considered an insubordinate to her husband and the men in Haiti. Libertie is a story of one young women’s journey to find freedom for herself.
Libertie is named one of the most anticipated books of the year by: Refinery29, O Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Rumpus, Harper’s Bazaar, Publishers Lunch and more. Click here to pre-order.
Title: Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
Author: Bryan Stevenson
Publication Date: September 2018
Lawyer and social advocate, Bryan Stevenson, writes about the wrongfully imprisoned and his fight for their freedom. Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults) is perfect for teens.
Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight For Justice (Young Adult Adaptation) is a Kirkus Review Best Book of the Year, was a feature on CBS This Morning and selected as a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year. Click here to purchase a copy. Just Mercy was adapted into a movie starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Click here to learn more and to watch the movie via Amazon Prime. Stream for free with a HBO subscription. To visit the Equal Justice Initiative website, click here, and to view Stevenson’s TED Talk, click here.
Title: She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman
Author: Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Publication Date: November 2019
My first presentation as a student was in the 4th grade. I was assigned to research Harriet Tubman and I loved it, so when I read about She Came to Slay on a blog list, I had to order a print copy for the college students. She Came to Slay includes photos, commissioned illustrations, an expansive timeline of Harriet Tubman’s life, and details about her impact on the Underground Railroad. Critics refer to She Came to Slay as “a powerful mix of pop culture and scholarship.” Click here to purchase a copy and click here to watch an interview with the author, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, provided by the 20th annual National Book Festival, which is hosted by the Library of Congress.
Title: Somebody’s Daughter
Author: Ashley C. Ford
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Ashley C. Ford, co-host of HBO’s Lovecraft Country Radio and a TIME 100 Talks correspondent, writes the story of her childhood in her upcoming memoir, Somebody’s Daughter. Ford would like a healthy relationship with her father, who spent most of her childhood in prison for a crime she didn’t know about as a young girl. In her memoir, Ford writes about living in poverty, the complicated relationship with her mother and a personal, traumatic life event that changed how she viewed the world around her, including the relationship with her father.
Somebody’s Daughter is named by journalists as One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021 and is an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Ford is one of the most important voices in the Black community for her generation. Her works have appeared in The Guardian, ELLE magazine, Buzzfeed, Slate, I-D, Matter Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and several other publications. She is currently the host of PROFILE by Buzzfeed News. Click here to purchase a copy.
Title: Just As I Am: A Memoir
Author: Cicely Tyson
Publication Date: January 2021
Cicely Tyson was one of the most legendary actresses in the world. She described what her memoir meant to her:
“Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” –Cicely Tyson
Ms. Tyson, you will be dearly missed.
Click here to purchase copy of her bestselling memoir.
Click the following links below for additional lists of books to read in celebration of Black History Month and, of course, year round. Happy reading!
- Black History Month 2021 (oprahmag.com)
- 25 Must Read Books For Black History Month (shondaland.com)
- 32 books to read during Black history month – TODAY
- 10 of the best fiction books by Black authors in 2021 (nbcnews.com)
- Forthcoming Books for 2021 by African-Americans (59 books) | Goodreads
- 19 Black Children’s Books by Black Authors | Book Riot
- Top 150 Recommended African-American Children’s Books (aalbc.com)
- 44 YA Books You Need to Read—Especially During Black History Month (epicreads.com)
- 25 Books By Black Authors To Add To Your Reading List This Month (buzzfeed.com)