I’ve been spending a lot of time listening over the past couple of weeks, trying to figure out how I can be a better ally to the Black Lives Matter movement and learning about ways to help. Sometimes the messages are contradictory, but I feel that I have to take it all in, figure out what I am able to do within my circle of influence, and do that.
In uncertain and turbulent times, as most library professionals do, I turn to books for the answers. I shared some recommended titles on my Instagram stories earlier this week and I’ve had a few friends and colleagues ask that I compile them into a more shareable list.
These are just books that I have personally read that came to me as I was thinking about books I might recommend to children to start conversations about race. My colleagues and I are working on a more comprehensive list of what we have available in our particular collection across age groups (focusing directly on Black voices) that will be coming out soon on our library’s social media platforms.
I would also recommend checking out lists curated by the Black community. Here are a couple of good ones to start with:
What follows is the content of my original posts on Instagram Stories (which can still be found under the Book Recs Highlight on my Instagram profile as well):
“I believe that one of the best things we can do to actively fight racism is to read and educate ourselves. White people need to hear and listen to Black voices. As a library worker, I am blessed every day with an opportunity, a platform upon which to elevate those voices in the books I highlight and recommend to the community.
It is important for children of all colors to see Black children represented in literature, and not just in the context of their oppression and struggle, but also in their joy, humor, sense of adventure, triumphs, hopes, and aspirations. They deserve to be portrayed as whole human beings, not just stereotypes or objects of inspiration.
There is still a very long way to go in representation in literature (I’m looking particularly at my favorite genre, fantasy). But there are so many wonderful books that exist for children now that feature people of color in more than just a sidekick role. There are many books that highlight the long-overlooked achievements and societal contributions of our Black citizens. And more and more of them are written by people of color, sharing their own authentic experiences.
I’m going to highlight some of my favorite books to recommend, and I hope you will seek some of them out. These are all children’s books because that’s my specialty, but they (obviously) can be enjoyed by anyone of any age.”
Do you have any recommendations? Please share them! I’d love to hear yours and add to my to-read list!