BLM Reading Recommendations

Black background with the text "Black Lives Matter"

The discussion around #BlackLivesMatter cannot be encapsulated in only these books, but these books are part of the conversation. If you have been looking to read and reflect on how black authors deal with these issues, then these books are great places to start.

You can currently check out and read physical books from our catalog via curbside pickup or through our eBook service Overdrive. If you read a book and would like to find more books like it, please try Novelist Plus. If you are looking to learn more about the facts surrounding current political issues, our eSource Issues and Controversies will allow you to learn more about the history behind current issues, different talking points, as well as providing sources for verifiable news and data.

Black Lives Matter reading recommendations for adults

I Am Not Your Negro book coverI am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin and Raoul Peck

To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote.

 

Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy book coverLoving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy by Sheryll Cashin

Loving beyond boundaries is a radical act that is changing America. When Mildred and Richard Loving wed in 1958, they were ripped from their shared bed and taken to court. Their crime: miscegenation, punished by exile from their home state of Virginia. The resulting landmark decision of Loving v. Virginia ended bans on interracial marriage and remains a signature case--the first to use the words “white supremacy” to describe such racism.

 

The Souls of Black Folk book coverThe Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois

This classic groundbreaking work of American literature first published in 1903 is a cornerstone of African-American literary history and a seminal work in the field of sociology. W.E.B. Du Bois, who drew from his own experiences as an African-American living in American society, explores the concept of “double-consciousness”—a term he uses to describe living as an African-American and having a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.”

 

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America book coverTears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Short, emotional, literary, powerful―Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

 

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice book coverBiased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

With a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society—in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it.

 

Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin book coverRest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton

Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power.

 

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul book coverDemocracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude

A powerful polemic on the state of black America that savages the idea of a post-racial society America's great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency.

 

Stamped from the Beginning book coverStamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. He demonstrates racist ideas were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.

 

The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America book coverThe Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America by D. Watkins

The time under President Obama was meant to usher in a new post-racial American political era. However, when seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by a wannabe cop in Florida; and then Ferguson, MO, happened; and then South Carolina hit the headlines; and then Baltimore blew up, it was hard to find any evidence of a new post-racial order. Suddenly the entire country seemed to be awakened to a stark fact: African American men are in danger in America.

 

Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Race in America book coverBacklash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Race in America by George Yancy

When George Yancy penned a New York Times article entitled "Dear White America," he knew that he was courting controversy. Here, Yancy chronicles the ensuing blowback as he seeks to understand what it was that created so much rage among so many white readers. He challenges white Americans to develop a new empathy for the African American experience. 

 

 

We also own these high-demand titles, but they have waitlists. Click on the book cover to place a hold.

White Fragility book coverHow to Be Less Stupid About Race book coverHood Feminism book coverHow to be an Antiracist book cover

When they call you a terrorist book coverThey Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement book coverHow we fight white supremacy: a field guide to black resistance book coverRace Matters book cover

 

No book list can be exhaustive. Find more with these subject matter searches:

African Americans--Race Identity | African American Women--Social Conditions |
Racism--United States | United States--Race Relations | White Supremacy Movements--United States

Black Lives Matter reading recommendations for teens

The discussion around #BlackLivesMatter cannot be encapsulated in only these YA books, but these books are part of the conversation. If you have been looking to read and reflect on how black authors and black teens deal with these issues, then these books are great places to start.

Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The cover is an illustration of a teenaged black girl holding a protest sign with the title of the book on the sign.The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Still on the New York Times bestseller list after 169 weeks, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a stunning and concise story. Starr Carter is in the passenger seat when her friend Khalil is shot during a traffic stop. Thrust into the middle of a growing national story, Starr has to learn how to find a way forward, and how to figure out the right thing to do in a complex situation.

 

 

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan KielyThe cover of All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; the cover shows a black teenaged boy with his hands up.

Rashad, a teenaged black boy, is beaten by a cop for seemingly stealing from a convenience store. Quinn, Rashad's white classmate, witnesses the whole thing--and the cop is a family friend. This book examines how we respond to injustice both as a victim and as a bystander, and how to do the right thing in response to police brutality.

 

 

The cover of Dear Martin by Nic Stone. The cover depicts a black teenaged boy wearing a hoodie.Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is an honors student doing all the right things, but he still ends up in the middle of a tragic conflict with a white police officer. In this novel, Justyce McAllister writes letters to Martin Luther King, Jr. attempting to understand what happened. This book also has a sequel, Dear Justyce, about Quan, a classmate of Justyce's who winds up in prison, writing letters to Justyce in an attempt to understand their differences.

 

Light It Up by Kekla MagoonThe cover of Light it Up by Kekla Magoon. The cover shows a black teenaged girl in a hoodie standing in front of armed police officers.

After an unarmed thirteen-year-old-girl is killed by the police, her community responds with protests and growing unrest. The community's growing protest is met by white supremacist counter-protestors. The community of Underhill each take turns unpacking their stories and their understanding of what to do next.

 

The cover of Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The cover features a silhouette of a black person's head.

Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

A nonfiction book, Stamped is a version of Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped From the Beginning specifically for teenaged readers. This book examines how racism has been constructed, and how we can identify and address it in our daily lives.

 

 

The cover of Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes. The cover shows a young black boy at a stoplight.Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Twelve-year-old Jerome is a victim of a police shooting. As a ghost, he observes both his own family and the family of the police officer, trying to come to terms with what happened. This book is aimed at slightly younger readers who want a book on this topic.

 

 

The cover of I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina. The cover is an illustration of a teenaged black girl crying while holding a picture of Alfonso.I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, John Jennings

In this graphic novel, Alfonso is excited to play Hamlet in his school play, to tell Danetta how he feels, to buy his first suit--until he wakes up in the afterlife, a victim of a police shooting. Alfonso and the ghosts of past police shootings watch over his family as they try to get justice for Alfonso.

 

The cover of How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon.How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

After Tariq, a black teen, is shot and killed by a white man, his community is in uproar. But not everyone can agree on exactly what happened. As the witnesses unpack what they saw, and what they believe they saw, the community attempts to understand how, exactly, it went down.

 

The cover of Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles. The cover is an illustration of a teenage black boy surrounded by flowers.Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Marvin Johnson tags along with his twin brother, Tyler, to a house party. Tyler and Marvin are separated by a police raid, Tyler goes missing, and then a video is leaked online of Tyler's death at the hands of a police officer. With his mother unraveling and his brother becoming a hashtag, Marvin has to figure out what freedom and justice really mean.

 

This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany JewellThe cover of This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell. The cover has illustrations of teens of color.

Another non-fiction title, this book has 20 lessons to help readers become more proactive in taking action against racism. This book offers tools, stories, and activities designed to empower readers.

Black Lives Matter reading recommendations for kids

The Black Lives Matter movement has been a powerful part of our current events and is impactful to all members of society for any age. These books for children will help better understand the ideas and ideals behind the movement and start the conversation with age appropriate material. You can place material on hold to be picked up at your local branch through curbside pick up or check out material online through our Overdrive eSource. Further information about these subjects can also be found using our Kids Infobits eSource.

The UndefeatedThe Undefeated by Kwame Alexander & Kadir Nelson

This year's Caldecott winner, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. Discussing the trauma of slavery, the struggle for civil rights and the heroes of history.

Hands UpHands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniels & Shane W. Evans

The ways in which the charged statement 'Hands Up' turns from a high five and praising the sun into a protest chant for a young black girl.

I Am EnoughI Am Enough by Grace Byers

A reasurring ode to young black girls about loving yourself, respecting others, and being kind to one another

Hey Black Child

A Good Kind of TroubleHey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins

This classic lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.Black Lives Matter

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée

When rule-follower Shayla's sister Hana joins in protests, Shayla doesn't think it's for her. But when she is moved by a powerful protest, she joins in.

If You're Going to a MarchBlack Lives Matter by Duchess Harris

A non-fiction book about the origins, aims, and the means behind the Black Lives Matter Movement.

If You're Going to a March by Martha Freeman

A great resource for kids that are interested in participating in the protest process, with information about what to wear, what to bring, and how to behave for the youngest members of our community.

Looking for more? You can always use our Novelist K-8 eSource for more books on the subject.

Incredible YA Books by Black Authors

An illustration of a black woman holding a sign reading "Incredible YA Books By Black Authors."
This list highlights some great books written by black authors!

Great Books by Black Authors

Collage of book covers by black authors
Fiction and genre fiction by black authors.