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Ottakee

Need books by African American authors and about African Americans

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This should not be this hard.  I am looking for books for a young African American girl in my classroom.  She wants books to help her speak up and empower her.  She also wants books written by and about black people.  She reads about a middle school level but has the interests of a young adult.  Nothing with a lot of violence, intimate scenes, language, etc.  They need to be "school appropriate".  She is a Christian so Christian books would be welcome.

I found some on the Civil Rights movement and books on slavery and while those are good, she just needs books about everyday teens that look like her.  Any ideas for me?

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The True Meaning of Smekday doesn't quite meet your criteria - but it's really good!  Biracial female protagonist with a white mother.  White author.  Sci-fi dystopia that is terribly funny yet also serious.  The protagonist's biracialness (is that a word?) is not the focus of the plot.

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Thanks for these ideas.  I will see if our local library can get these.  

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Author Christopher Paul Curtis - the two excellent books we have read are Bud Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

Hidden figures - there is a version for kids (about middle school or upper elementary) as well as the grown-up version. https://smile.amazon.com/Hidden-Figures-Readers-Margot-Shetterly/dp/0062662376/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1F374GZ6A2ET4&keywords=hidden+figures+book&qid=1574171202&sprefix=hidden+figures%2Caps%2C170&sr=8-2

Condoleezza Rice's memoir Extraordinary Ordinary People - there is a version for kids around middle school level.  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0385738803/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Edited by SKL
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You might also look at I Will Always Write Back.  This is a true story of pen pals - a white girl in the USA and an African boy who ends up coming to the USA to study.  Really an excellent book, though not about a black girl in the USA....  https://smile.amazon.com/Will-Always-Write-Back-Changed/dp/0316241334/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1WKOSIRAXS99C&keywords=i+will+always+write+back&qid=1574171686&s=books&sprefix=i+will+always%2Caps%2C181&sr=1-1

Edited by SKL
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For girl empowerment, though everyone in the story is white, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was excellent.  It might be a little old depending on her emotional age (it had one or two parts that were a little old for my 12/13yo girls).

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Might also consider Julie of the Wolves for girl empowerment (Julie is a 13yo Inuit girl in a male-dominated culture in a white-dominated world).  Though my kids found this a bit of a let-down, it has an interesting message.  Plus it's just plain interesting.

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The Hate U Give is written from the perspective of the female protagonist. There’s also One Crazy Summer and The Watsons Go to Birmingham. DS also devoured every ‘Who Was...’ book he could get his hands on. They’re simple and quick reads but cover so many different people including musicians, athletes, inventors, and civil rights heroes.

I was an especially intense reader so I also read more intense things like The Women of Brewster Place, The Bluest Eye and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maybe give the student some of the tame ones and get some suggestions from her parents as to what they’re comfortable with. My parents never limited my scope.

Edited by Sneezyone
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One Crazy Summer and the sequels were my first thought. Also seconding Brown Girl Dreaming, especially for writing.

Anything that has won the Coretta Scott King Award is obviously a good candidate. The books range from YA to picture books so it's a spread, but all authors are African American.
http://www.ala.org/rt/emiert/cskbookawards

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(My kids really disliked Brown Girl Dreaming - more than any other book we ever started.  Just putting it out there.  Sometimes award winners are chosen for aspects that adults appreciate but kids don't.)

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3 minutes ago, SKL said:

(My kids really disliked Brown Girl Dreaming - more than any other book we ever started.  Just putting it out there.  Sometimes award winners are chosen for aspects that adults appreciate but kids don't.)

I've known young readers who really liked it. Not every book is for every kid though.

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You might also consider a book of poems/short stories by Langston Hughes or Countee Cullen. There are some great compilations out there.

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2 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

You might also consider a book of poems/short stories by Langston Hughes or Countee Cullen. There are some great compilations out there.

Or Gwendolyn Brooks or Nikki Giovanni.

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You want mostly realistic books, yes?

How about The Mighty Miss Malone, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (with a caveat that the nyc high school application process is misrepresented - there are no zoned high schools in Manhattan, so the odds of both twins and their neighbors going to the same high school next year are definitely not 100%, yes I care about this deeply), The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, The Parker Inheritance (warning - Jim Crow era violence), Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It (male protagonist), Full Cicada Moon, Like Vanessa, A Good Kind of Trouble, Flygirl, Celeste's Harlem Renaissance.

That's just off the top of my head.

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African, not African American, if it’s not too mature for her, autobiography of Wangari Matthai Unbowed or Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World https://www.amazon.com/dp/030759114X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_jmk1Db3JWGR6N

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. If too mature there are kids books about her, but I don’t know race of authors.

Lots of African American woman poets exist, and some have prose books or biographies about them.  

If not too mature, Maya Angelou Letter to my Daughter

 

(when younger they were every day teens, and certainly likely to be empowering, IMO! Especially Wangari Mathaai) 

Edited by Pen

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White author afaik, but Almena’s Dogs about a younger black girl (not sure main character age, maybe middle school) had uplifting messages—especially good if this girl likes dogs.   It’s straightforward in its reading level.  

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4 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

You want mostly realistic books, yes?

How about The Mighty Miss Malone, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (with a caveat that the nyc high school application process is misrepresented - there are no zoned high schools in Manhattan, so the odds of both twins and their neighbors going to the same high school next year are definitely not 100%, yes I care about this deeply), The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, The Parker Inheritance (warning - Jim Crow era violence), Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It (male protagonist), Full Cicada Moon, Like Vanessa, A Good Kind of Trouble, Flygirl, Celeste's Harlem Renaissance.

That's just off the top of my head.

Or, if something with a fantasy element is also okay, Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, which feature a girl from NY but living in Nigeria with elements of Nigerian mythology.

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Or, if something with a fantasy element is also okay, Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, which feature a girl from NY but living in Nigeria with elements of Nigerian mythology.

 

Nnedi Okorafor is always awesome and always recommended.

But you know, Ottakee, you ought to be diversifying the books in your classroom overall, for all the students. Would you also like some books featuring non-white protagonists who aren't African-American?

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20 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

 

Nnedi Okorafor is always awesome and always recommended.

But you know, Ottakee, you ought to be diversifying the books in your classroom overall, for all the students. Would you also like some books featuring non-white protagonists who aren't African-American?

We don't really have a classroom library.  I work at a program for going adults 19-25 with intellectual disabilities, severe LDs, etc.  We utilize the public library weekly.  Our main focus is to teach them to use community resources.

I certainly believe that classroom libraries should be diverse.  I am looking for diverse titles that are appropriate for our students, esp one girl, to expose her to at the public library.

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