As we prepare for Kwame Alexander’s virtual visit to Hope College at the end of the month, I encourage you to continue to read our AARI recommended texts.

Today, we’re thrilled to share even more book recommendations from our friends in the Black Student Union at Hope College. 

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Alexander fully captures Josh’s athletic finesse and coming-of-age angst in a mix of free verse and hip-hop poetry that will have broad appeal. . . . This will inspire budding players and poets alike.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

Reach includes forty first-person accounts from well-known men like the Rev. Al Sharpton, John Legend, Isiah Thomas, Bill T. Jones, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Talib Kweli. These remarkable individuals are living proof that black men are as committed as ever to ensuring a better world for themselves and for others. Powerful and indispensable to our ongoing cultural dialogue, Reach explodes myths about black men by providing rare, candid, and deeply personal insights into their lives. It’s a blueprint for better community engagement. It’s an essential resource for communities everywhere.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching her toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local supermarket. The store’s security guard saw a young black woman out late with a white child and accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar. A crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right. But Emira is wary of Alix’s desire to help. Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown-up.

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range. The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny and moving novel. McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was a deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself. 

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child to exist. But he did exist–and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his keen smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government. In a country where racism barred blacks from social, educational, and economic opportunity, Trevor surmounted staggering obstacles and created a promising future for himself thanks to his mom’s unwavering love and indomitable will.

Happy Reading!

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