Our primary mission as a public library is to provide information to our community. We offer the tools to feed lifelong learners. We want you to ask questions. We encourage curiosity.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others have brought many to ask, “How can we learn more?” and “What can we do?”
This week, I ask that you take a look at some of these books, chosen specifically by Delaware County District Library staff members, to help start or continue the conversation on the black experience in America. It’s never too early to begin.
Picture books for kids:
• “Don’t Touch My Hair” by Sharee Miller. An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair. Author-illustrator Sharee Miller takes the tradition of appreciation of black hair to a new, fresh, level as she doesn’t seek to convince or remind young readers that their curls are beautiful—she simply acknowledges black beauty while telling a fun, imaginative story.
• “Black is a Rainbow Color” by Angela Joy, ill. 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.
Chapter books for kids:
• “The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963” by Christopher Paul Curtis. The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about a family on a road-trip at one of the most important times in America’s history.
• “Ghost Boys” 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.
• “Stamped” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning” reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas—and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
• “Say Her Name” by Zetta Elliott, ill. Loveis Wise. Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter. Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls. This collection features forty-nine powerful poems, four of which are tribute poems inspired by the works of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Phillis Wheatley.
• “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. The executive director of a social advocacy group that has helped relieve condemned prisoners explains why justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand through the story of Walter McMillian, a man condemned to death row for a murder he didn’t commit. Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction.
• “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett. Separated by their embrace of different racial identities, two mixed-race identical twins reevaluate their choices as one raises a black daughter in their southern hometown while the other passes for white with a husband who is unaware of her heritage.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected] No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!