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Prepare for Black History Month Commemorations

We've selected books highlighting black history and voices that would be perfect to add to your shelves.

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      The Voting Booth

      by Brandy Colbert

      Oct 2020

      Young Adults Plus

      Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She's always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?

      Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band's first paying gig tonight.

      Only problem? Duke can't vote.

      When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn't spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.

      And that's how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva's missing cat), it's clear that there's more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.

      Now That I’ve Found You

      by Kristina Forest

      Oct 2020

      Young Adults

      Eighteen-year-old Evie Jones's entire career—or at least what's left of it—is at the mercy of her reclusive grandma, Gigi. Blacklisted from Hollywood for badmouthing a famous director, only a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress (one who’s been out of the limelight for nearly thirty years) can save Evie’s career. So, of course, the week Evie is meant to present her grandma with a Lifetime Achievement award, Gigi does the unthinkable: She disappears.

      No warning, no note, and no forwarding address. Gigi is gone. With time running out and the comeback of a lifetime on the line, Evie enlists the help of the last person who saw her grandmother: Miles, the cute boy who delivers Gigi's groceries.

      Along the way, romance blossoms, adventure abounds, and Evie makes some new discoveries about why her grandmother has been hiding from the spotlight.

      Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb!

      by Veronica Chambers

      Sep 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      A timely picture book biography about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, who sought the Democratic nomination to be the president of the United States.

      Shirley Chisholm famously said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This dynamic biography illuminates how Chisholm was a doer, an active and vocal participant in our nation’s democracy, and a force to be reckoned with. Now young readers will learn about her early years, her time in Congress, her presidential bid and how her actions left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire, uplift, and instruct.

      The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

      by Dierdre Mask

      Sep 2020

      Adult Crossover Nonfiction Plus

      An exuberant work of popular history: the story of how streets got their names and houses their numbers, and why something as seemingly mundane as an address can save lives or enforce power.

      When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. Addresses arose out of a grand Enlightenment project to name and number the streets, but they are also a way for people to be identified and tracked by those in power. As Deirdre Mask explains, the practice of numbering houses was popularized in eighteenth-century Vienna by Maria Theresa, leader of the Hapsburg Empire, to tax her subjects and draft them into her military. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class, causing them to be a shorthand for snobbery or discrimination. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany, and why numbered streets dominate in America but not in Europe. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata, on the streets of London, or in post-earthquake Haiti.

      Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name,to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t—and why.

      You Should See Me in a Crown

      by Leah Johnson

      Sep 2020

      Young Adults Plus

      Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay—Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

      But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down…until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

      The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams…or make them come true?

      A Song Below Water

      by Bethany C. Morrow

      Sep 2020

      PG High Plus

      Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

      But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore— soon Portland won’t be either.

      Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker

      by Patricia Hruby Powell

      Sep 2020

      Character Building Elementary

      “What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.

      Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”


      Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists.

      Caldecott Honor winner R. Gregory Christie’s powerful pictures pair with Patricia Hruby Powell’s poignant words to paint a vivid portrait of the fight for the freedom of the human spirit.

      Simone Biles: Epic Athletes

      by Dan Wetzel

      Sep 2020

      Sports Elementary Plus

      Acclaimed sports journalist Dan Wetzel scores a perfect ten with this uplifting middle-grade biography of gold medal gymnast Simone Biles!

      In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Simone Biles dazzled gymnastics fans across the globe with each jaw-dropping backflip, spin, and jump she landed. Her record-breaking performance catapulted her to the top of the sport, and she quickly became a hero to young people.

      But well before Simone faced Olympic trials on the balance beam and rings, she confronted real-life challenges as a kid, as she moved in and out of foster care. With the support and love of her grandparents, plus her unwavering drive to make history on the ultimate stage in sports, she grew into an incredible role model and activist for the #MeToo movement—and one of the greatest athletes of our time.

      What Lane?

      by Torrey Maldonado

      Aug 2020

      Realistic Fiction Middle Plus

      Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules—and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends… So what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find ou which are his—and who should be with him.

      A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

      by Roseanne A. Brown

      Aug 2020

      Fantasy/Science Fiction High Plus

      For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

      But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic… requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

      When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a heart-pounding course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

      The Only Black Girls in Town

      by Brandy Colbert

      Jul 2020

      Advanced Readers

      Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta's best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can't understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

      Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

      When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie's attic, they team up to figure out exactly who's behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

      Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

      by Suzanne Slade

      Jul 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.
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