Hi All! It’s Becky. Books are one of the best ways to teach children about the world and we are currently living through a time when children need to learn about respect and to be empathic of other people experiences. Here is a list that is sampling of amazing books to teach teens to understand the experiences of many African Americans.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Rashad is an African American boy who was brutally beaten by a police officer, and Quinn, a Caucasian boy who witnessed the beating. Rashad and Quinn’s lives are forever changed by the actions of that police officer and they will both go on a journey of healing and find their voices to stand up to injustice.
All American Boys is a beautifully written, honest, and heartfelt novel that stays with you long after you finish it that is a must-read for anyone.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Justyce McAllister has good grades, is a member of his school’s debate team, and a good friend. He has his life under control…until one night when he doesn’t. The night Justyce has a brush with a police officer that causes him to create the “Martin Project”. Justyce will live his life by the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and he will either find peace or a new understanding about his place in the world.
Nic Stone wrote a powerful and impactful novel about how racism can impact anyone. The book’s greatest strength is the realistic portrayal of a teen boy and his relationships which will hook you from the first page and won’t let you go.
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Marvin Johnson is a good student, a good friend, and a great brother to his twin Tyler. Marvin knows Tyler is beginning to fall with a bad crowd but is shocked when one night after a party Tyler disappears. Marvin is desperate to find his brother and to reveal what really happened the night he went missing.
Jay Coles based this book on his own childhood experiences and that gives the novel an extra layer of realism that is not found in other similar novels. The book explores violence and brutality through eyes of someone who is going through a great loss and it adds a much needed narrative voice to the world of YA lit.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr is a sixteen year old girl stuck between two worlds. She spends part of her life in low income inner city where she was raised and the rest of her life at her expensive prep school. Starr has been balancing her two live successfully until the night that changes everything. The night Starr is the only witness of her friend being shot by a police officer. As Starr gets ready to testify about her friend’s death she finds herself trapped between her two worlds and the expectations of her friends, family, and society.
Angie Thomas’s award winning novel is probably the best known book on my list and it’s for a good reason. Thomas’s debut novel explore a young African American woman’s experience. Starr witnesses the police murder her childhood friends and she has to deal with the media scrutiny and the lack of justice for her loved one. Plus, I have to mention that the loving relationship between Starr’s parents was refreshing and is still one of my favorite illustrations of parents in YA books.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (2015-12-15) by Kekla Magoon
No ones knows how it went down exactly. Everyone can agree that Tariq, a young black man, was gunned down in the street but no one can agree about what happened and why it happened. As the stories add up the only truth that is revealed is the injustice of Tariq death.
Magoon’s novel is a relevant exploration of the injustice facing African American teens. The book is the start of a conversation about what is fundamentally broken in our society.
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