I find that reading books has always been a way for me to practice empathy because I can go into other experiences through other perspectives. And that’s why I’m always moved by the power of storytelling and inspired to read more books.
Since it’s Black History Month, I hope to continue educating myself about the experiences of my Black peers and support their storytelling.
It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin
Here are 7 books to celebrate Black History and storytelling:
(For book synopsis’ and details, click on their titles)
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., paintings by Kadir Nelson
I remember hearing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech for the first time in the third grade, and I hope that they still emphasize the importance of his messages for equality, peace and freedom as his words still ring true. Even 55 years after Dr. King delivered his speech in 1963.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’”
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (ADULT HISTORICAL FICTION)
Through Gyasi’s powerful storytelling, I’m learning about eight generations of history in these 320 pages. A history that I didn’t know or remember learning very much about in history class. It also got me thinking about all the stories in history that are missing and how important it is to look for these stories and to listen to them.
We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”
March: Book One by John Lewis (ADULT GRAPHIC NOVEL)
I usually associate graphic novels to stories of superheroes, and I think that it was great choice of genre to tell the stories of John Lewis and his peers. Since he’s a superhero and his peers are superheroes in real life, fighting for civil and human rights. This quote also deepened my love for libraries.
I loved going to the library. It was the first time I ever saw Black newspapers and magazines like JET, Ebony, the Baltimore Afro-American, or the Chicago Defender. And I’ll never forget my librarian.”
How Black Mothers Say I Love You by Trey Anthony (CANADIAN PLAY)
I thought this play really captured the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and between immigrant parents and their children. Imagining the scenes on stage in front of me with the humourous and honest dialogue, was an emotional journey. And I think it would be a great play to see on stage.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
This book showed me how love can look in all forms, as well as the heartbreaking challenges up against loving when there’s hate. I was captivated by the grace and sensation of Baldwin’s writing. The book was also recently made into a movie by director Barry Jenkins, and premiered at last year’s TIFF. I know that books are always better the film but I’m still excited to see such a significant story on the big screen.
love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now.”
Becoming by Michelle Obama (BIOGRAPHY)
Fellow blogger Tali, is currently reading this book as well, and these are her thoughts on it: “I’m really enjoying the book so far, one of the main themes from her life has been that she felt like she was always questioning whether she was good enough, which I think many people relate to,” (I know I do!) “She also switched careers, from bring a lawyer to a doing more public service work, which I found admirable and courageous”. And here’s one of Tali’s favourite quotes from the book (also relatable):
I tried not to feel intimidated when classroom conversation was dominated by male students, which it often was. Hearing them, I realized that they weren’t all smarter than the rest of us. They were simply emboldened, floating on an ancient tide of superiority, buoyed by the fact that history never told them anything different”.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (NON-FICTION KIDS)
Reading about all the inspiring Black female leaders in this book brought out my inner child and reminded me of the feeling of wanting to find someone to look up to, that looked like me. And that’s why I believe representation is so important, especially in leadership, because there are little leaders looking for mentors out there, who need to know that there’s not just one type of leader. That there are leaders who look like them too.
What are some books you’re reading that celebrate Black storytelling?