February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the lives and contributions of the African diaspora. This year, Black History Month seems even more important: the social and political climate of North America is shifting and the progress we thought we had made towards true equality seems uncertain. While there may be much to be pessimistic about, we can also be hopeful for a future that celebrates and values all people. While we believe it is important to dedicate a month to learning about and celebrating Black history, it’s important to continue learning, reading, and fighting for the rights of African Americans and Canadians throughout the year.
This list of books for teens will give you a starting place to learn and talk about issues surrounding race and racism as a family. Each of these books focus on the history of civil rights, set in the 60s and 70s at the height of the civil rights movement. As you read, consider the ways in which the history of this movement informs the issues of today and what role you might play in fighting racism today.
If you are interested in borrowing one of these books, click on its title below to access it in our catalogue.
Loving Vs. Virginia
Patricia Hruby Powell
Written in blank verse, the story of Mildred Loving, an African American girl, and Richard Loving, a Caucasian boy, who challenge the Viriginia law forbidding interracial marriages in the 1950s.
Walter Dean Myers
In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy “swells” of New York City.
Midnight Without A Moon
Linda Williams Jackson
Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.
On September 4, 1957, nine African American teenagers made their way toward Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They didn’t make it very far. Armed soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard blocked most of them at the edge of campus. The three students who did make it onto campus faced an angry mob of white citizens who spit at them and shouted ugly racial slurs.
No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Told by a banker that he should sell fried chicken rather than books, since “Negroes don’t read”, Lewis Michaux defies the odds to build Harlem’s National Memorial African Bookstore, an intellectual center and gathering place from 1939 to 1975.