The Bookshelf

It has been a very interesting 2021-2022 preparation season for us as we have explored our library, our bookstore friends, and paid attention to the book banning happening across the country. It solidified for us even more the importance of what we do.

There are so many more authors and debuts than when we started a decade ago. Our shelves are running out of space. We keep buying and reviewing because while our program is in the summer, our resources and consultations are all year. We want you to read all. year

It is a delicate dance of moving and curating the collection that will make it to the eight weeks we are together this summer.

What should we add to the 2022 Bookshelf?

We are currently exploring the following list with some potential additions or changes. All the books will be accessible via the library or for your purchase. We highly recommend purchasing at least The 1619 Project, edited and conceptualized by Professor and Journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones. That and Four Hundred Souls edited by Historians Dr. Ibrim X. Kendi and Dr.Keisha Blain.

We will be exploring The 1619 Project, conceptualized by Nikole Hannah-Jones as a non-fiction entry. There is poetry in the book that covers a new origin story from 1619-2021. It is stronger than the original New York Times Magazine series. The poetry selection is going to celebrate the Black women writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance through the collection, Legacy, by Nikki Grimes. Jason Reynolds and artist Jason Griffin have given us a gift in Ain’t Burned All the Bright. We will also invite circle members to curate their own choices. We are still intrigued by the work of fiction written in verse and so will be visiting with the voice of a high school girl in Muted by Tami Charles. A great fiction book with a strong Black female protagonist who is a senior in high school is by Camryn Garrett – Off the Record. An AfroMuslim contemporary book we will read is You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen. We often hear we don’t have enough male protagonists, that is sometimes the default because we have more girls than boys, but this year, we have two we will explore, Your Dark Corner by Desmond Hall is set in Jamaica about a boy’s aspirations to study in America. Kneel by Candace Buford is a contemporary topic meeting at the intersections of scholar athletes, voice, and race. The short story will be part of our reading this year through a collection by Ladee Hubbard set in 1992-2007 suburban Black America, it isThe Last Suspicious Holdout.

Of course there are so many more books and welcome suggestions by our teens. The links to the books are to some of the Black bookstores we support.

We encourage strong use of the public library. Several of the newer contemporary offerings in AfroFantasy and YA are on the shelves, again, too many for us to explore. The Brooklyn Public Library has generously made their entire collection available to any teen in the United States, ages 13-21 can get a library card. Whether it is the local library or part of what the American Library Association and specifically places like The New York Public Library are offering, we encourage reading heavily this summer in light of the book bans and because it is so vital to your growth and development.

As for me, I am currently exploring four books – SPEAK by Tunde Oyeneyin and Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, a May release that centers the reproductive rights conversation through the experience of Black women nurses, doctors, and patients in the south in 1973. As Zora Neale Hurston is one the inspiration of this literary circle, we are reading a newly released (2022) book of her essays, You Don’t Know Us Negroes. We will explore some of her thoughts here and perhaps in other books currently in the collection. The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker edited by Jelani Cobb and David Remnick. This enormous volume is great exploration of essays that have appeared in that magazine over decades, some of the essays are from our writing ancestors including James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. It is available at the local library and I recommend our seniors and those in college explore this volume.

Founder and Executive Director on a curating tour to Baldwin & Co. This is an independent Black bookstore in New Orleans.

If you have a suggestion, contact our director.

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