Recommended Reads for Black History Month

There are so many ways to participate in Black History Month — volunteering, listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and attending virtual events — each having a unique way to communicate Black History to audiences of all ages and interests. Although learning about history, culture, and ongoing struggles should be a year-round pursuit, Black History Month gives many of us the reminder to actively engage in conversations and activities to honor and continue to learn more about Black history. Since many of us are still learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion, SMPS Oregon compiled a short list of books to peruse written by Black authors and featuring people of color as main characters.

This list ranges from contemporary fiction, to non-fiction and educational books for adults and children. It represents only a fraction of the books available on Black history and culture, with more books by authors of color in all genres to be found at some of your favorite retailers. Check out more Black History recommendations from Bookshop.org that also supports your local bookstores!

Nonfiction and Contemporary Fiction for Adults

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man | Emmanual Acho

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man explores concepts such as cultural appropriation and white privilege that were first presented in the author’s video series of the same name. Drawing on personal experience, research, and cultural perceptions, Emmanual Acho encourages readers to listen to the why and how behind some of the common questions that arise about race.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents | Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson is well known for her writings following the stories of generations of individuals (notably in The Warmth of Other Suns, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award) and exploring the effects of a caste system on culture, politics, and beyond. Aside from the myriad other literary reviews and book clubs that proclaim this book as a crucial read, it’s also a recommended read by SMPS Oregon’s February event DEI Educational guest speaker, Teela Foxworth.

Black Buck | Mateo Askaripour

Set in New York City, this satirical take on business gives readers an ambitious and riveting new story anchored by Buck, the only Black man in a competitive new tech company. As a way to navigate through unfamiliar territory, he imagines himself as an entirely different person. Black Buck is sure to give some laughs, insight, and dark comedic takes on the corporate world.

Heads of the Colored People | Nafissa Thompson-Spires

This short story collection explores facets of life from the perspectives of both young and older individuals grappling with identity, racism, black culture and modern relationships.
This book is appropriate for those who may not have time for a full novel, but want to engage in contemporary fiction stories that have people of color as main characters.

 

Nonfiction for Kids

A kids book about™ | Various authors

Portland-based publisher A Kids Book About™ have been instrumental in bringing current issues to children and parents in an accessible, informative, and sensitive series of books. Many have found that using these books to start the conversation has led to thoughtful, conscious learning between parents and kids. This month, A Kids Book About™ is offering a Black History Month bundle which features all of their books written by Black authors. Included are standouts: a kids book about, Racism, White Privilege, Diversity, Climate Change, Empathy.

Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History | Vashti Harrison

Appropriate for elementary school and middle-grade readers, Little Leaders is an approachable story about the influential actions of Black women in history. Featuring stories about women who were mathematicians, poets and chemists, this book spotlights the changes they made in their industries, and the paths they opened for generations of young women after them.

 

Have you recently read any books about Black History you’d like to share? Let us know!

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