Hi everyone, it’s Sarah.
The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013 in response to the injustice black lives received at the hands of the police force and other systemic societal racism. As police continue to use deadly force against the black community, protests have erupted across the country and even spread to other countries. This issue is important to and impacts people of every age. While tweens may still be kids, they also have a sense of justice and equality. These kids want to make their own voices heard, but may need more information to understand what Black Lives Matter means. Here is the link to the Black Lives Matter home page and here is a link to an article created by the National Education Association, which breaks down resources and techniques for addressing these issues in young teens/tweens.
I have created a list of middle grade books that explore the Black Lives Matter movement through fiction. If any great recommendations for this topic, please comment below.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
In the summer of 1968, Delphine and her two younger sisters are sent to live with their long-absent mother. When the young girls show up, they find their mother to be cold and obsessively working on publications. Delphine fills her and her sisters’ days with events at the local Black Panther’s headquarters, which is structured similar to a vacation Bible school. Delphine begins learning more about her mother and the work of other adult African Americans during this time of history.
I felt it was important to start with this award-winning book that shows up on many reading lists. I wanted to keep my list mainly contemporary, but I thought this was a great historical novel that discusses the past of activism related to racial equality.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
Shayla is a good kid who works hard to stay out of trouble. As she begins to navigate middle school, she starts to notice areas of injustice around her. Her older sister is involved with the Black Lives Matter movement and gives Shayla new ideas for addressing the issues around her. Sometimes, you have to make trouble.
This is a solid book that gives tween readers a role model for activism. Shay shows what it looks like to stand up for what is right in today’s world.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Zoe is a budding pastry chef. She is constantly whipping up delicious concoctions in her kitchen and can’t wait to start her summer internship at a local cupcake place. She loves her mom and stepdad, who is really just dad to her. Zoe has never met her father and knows that he is a bad guy, because why else would he be in prison. Her mother never wants to talk about her bio-dad. On her twelfth birthday, Zoe secretly intercepts a letter to her from her father. She begins writing him and questioning if he really is guilty of what they say he did.
Zoe begins learning about the Innocence Project throughout the book and the inherent racism of the justice system.
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
Karina loves her family, especially her grandfather, is great at school, and when others bully her for her Indian culture and nerdy ways, she still finds a way to be true to herself. Karina and her grandfather are beginning to develop a friendship with the next-door-neighbor, Chris. This friendship is quickly rocked when Karina, Chris and Karina’s grandfather are attacked by a racist stranger on the street. Everyone reacts to the attack in their own way, but will everything fall apart or will they find a greater strength.
This book discusses a community that embraces their members and combats hate. Activism can start nationally or be homegrown within your own family.
Blended by Sharon Draper
Isabella, or Izzy to her mom, is caught between many worlds. Not only must she switch from one parent’s house to the other’s from week to week, but she feels caught between races because her mother is white and her father is black. In addition to a challenging home life, Isabella is going through the typical growing pains of being a middle schooler, from boys to friends, and pressure to perform perfectly at her upcoming piano recital. All of the racial issues surrounding Izzy come to a head, when she and her step brother are stopped by the police.
This novel succinctly describes the issue of code switching and differing expectations of society for white people and black people. It pulls in relevant real-world dangerous scenarios and allows the reader to walk through them.
Here are a few titles I am working on getting to that will also address issues related to the Black Lives Matter Movement. If you have read them, comment below with your thoughts. If not, maybe add them to your own TBR.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
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