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March 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Black History Books for Youth
The subjects of these top black-history titles, all reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months, delve into some of the darkest chapters in U.S. history. Look closely, though, and you’ll find expressions of joy as well.
Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson. By Charles R. Smith. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. 2010. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $16.99 (9781596434738). Gr. 1–3.
With punchy, rat-a-tat verse and swaggeringly stylish artwork, Smith and Evans distill the life and legendary fighting spirit of provocative boxer Jack Johnson.
The Cruisers. By Walter Dean Myers. 2010. Scholastic, $15.99 (9780439916264). Gr. 5–8.
In Myers’ fast, clever novel, a Civil War project in a Harlem school divides a class into Confederate and Union sympathizers—and a group of student slackers are tasked with mediating peace.
Finding Family. By Tonya Bolden. 2010. illus. Bloomsbury, $15.99 (9781599903187). Gr. 4–7.
Bolden uses real-life period photos to frame this richly imagined novel set in 1905 West Virginia about a girl who goes on a quest to find the truth about her African American family.
Fort Mose and the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America. By Glennette Tilley Turner. 2010. illus. Abrams, $18.95 (9780810940567). Gr. 7–10.
This handsome book introduces Francisco Menendez, a slave in eighteenth-century South Carolina who gained his freedom and led an early black community in Florida.
Frederick Douglass: A Noble Life. By David A. Adler. 2010. illus. Holiday, $18.95 (9780823420568). Gr. 6–10.
This standout biography uses Douglass’ own writings to provide a complete picture of not only a great man of the nineteenth century but also slavery.
Odetta: The Queen of Folk. By Stephen Alcorn and Samantha Thornhill. Illus. by Stephen Alcorn. 2010. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780439928182). Gr. 2–4.
With joyous free verse and flowing illustrations, this picture-book biography weaves together the themes of inequality that shaped folk-music pioneer Odetta.
One Crazy Summer. By Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. Amistad, $15.99 (9780060760885). Gr. 4–7.
Set during the summer of 1968, Williams-Garcia’s vibrant, humorous novel follows 11-year-old Delphine and her two sisters to Oakland, California, where they try to reconnect with their estranged mother, a poet with ties to the Black Panthers.
Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network That Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement. By Rick Bowers. 2010. illus. National Geographic, $16.95 (9781426305955). Gr. 7–10.
This account of Mississippi’s Sovereignty Commission—a spy network bent on thwarting civil rights—is flat-out chilling. Restrained prose and eye-opening details flesh out this largely undiscussed movement.
They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. By Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 2010. illus. Houghton, $19 (9780618440337). Gr. 7–12.
Bartoletti offers another impressive contribution to youth history shelves with this searing account of the Ku Klux Klan’s formation, which was selected as Booklist’s 2010 Top of the List Winner for Youth Nonfiction.
Zora and Me. By Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon. 2010. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763643003). Gr. 5–8.
Told in the immediate voice of 10-year-old Carrie, Zora Neale Hurston’s best childhood friend, this first novel evokes the famous African American writer’s early years.
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