Black History Month: Making History Happen

We often think of history as boring words in dusty books written by authors long dead, but this month and every month, Black History is being created worldwide. We've gathered ten titles that highlight amazing people—artists, athletes, authors, and more—making history happen. 

 

Children

Oprah by Alison Oliver

This delightful board book is made for our tiniest historians! Colorful illustrations from Oprah's life pair with simple two-word phrases and quotes that encourage children to “Be Confident,” “Be Empathetic,” and, above all, “Be Themselves.” A mirror at the end lets children see themselves as part of the story, and if children decide to “Be Inquisitive,” a short biography will help parents answer the unending questions. 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

If you're unfamiliar with Jacqueline Woodson, get excited because this is your new favorite author (or at least a very good one). Woodson writes children's books that are easy and joyful to read, and her most recent title, Before the Ever After, just took home a major award. Brown Girl Dreaming is the story of her childhood growing up in the 60s and 70s, slowly becoming aware of the Civil Rights movement and learning to love stories even through her reading difficulties. Read this if you love poetry, stories of families, or just plain good books. 

Beyonce: Shine Your Light by Sarah E Warren

Of course Queen Bey's book is sparkly! Follow her story from her first school performances through her time with Destiny's Child to her work as a philanthropist. Beginning with a dedication to the reader (YOU!) that reminds us that "When you are your best, most bodacious self, the universe winks and does a little shimmy." Children and adults alike will love the gorgeous, richly colored illustrations and appreciate the message: lift each other up and always shine your light. 

Serena: The Littlest Sister by Karlin Grey

Serena Williams has been a mainstay of the world tennis circuit for over 20 years now, but did you know there are five Williams sisters? In this engaging picture book biography, you get to see how her sister Venus, as well as the rest of the family, supported their littlest sister in her career. With lovely illustration work and a story that does not shy away from the tennis world's whiteness and the challenges the family faced, this title is well worth a read; tennis fan or not!  

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o

Sulwe is a little girl born with skin the color of midnight, while her sister is the color of high noon. While her sister's beauty is admired, Sulwe gets teased at school for her skin color. One night, a shooting star tells Sulwe the story of the two sisters, Day and Night, who experienced much the same treatment. But when Night left, the day became too long, and the people (and Night) learned to value the beauty of the dark. In an author's note, Nyong'o speaks of her childhood, when she spent the nights praying to God that she would wake up with lighter skin. This title is a beautiful and poignant reminder to all of us to love ourselves--because you're beautiful just as you are.

 

Teens and Adults

From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg

Do you ever wish your cookbook had a little bit more personality? With dishes ranging from The OG Chicken and Waffles to Down Under Lobster Thermidor, Snoop presents approachable and entertaining recipes. In between are hilarious opinions on essential spices (lemon pepper—"I can't handle no bland chicken"), munchies (Frito's Honey BBQ Flavor Twists—"the ultimate snack"), and comfort food (Bologna Sandwich "We ain't eating this just cuz we have to"). Finally! A cookbook with some character!

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Best to start with a quote, I think: "The word 'love' is most often defined as a noun, yet...we would all love better if we used it as a verb." And she's not just talking about romantic love. As bell hooks digs into the way we define love, she examines the lack of care, compassion, and unity—the lovelessness—of our culture and our world. While a quite slim volume, it's a great read for all, especially those who like to dig deep without having to spend months on a single book. 

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

Available in both adult and young adult versions, When They Call You a Terrorist at times reads more like poetry than a memoir. Cullors, in relaying the story of her life and the movement that has sparked controversy and led to a deeper conversation about racism in our society, asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. For an even more personal touch, check out the audiobook narrated by the author. 

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama

There has long been a vegetable garden at the White House, but Michelle Obama elevated it to a mission. Across America, millions of people do not have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, impacting their long-term health. And no one is more at risk than our children. And tucked between the lovely photographs of sunny gardens and the seasonal recipes is a story of a woman doing her best to improve an entire country's health. Highly recommended for gardeners and fans of the FLOTUS alike.