Summer Reading

  • Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad

    by Monica Edinger Year Published: 2013 Historical Fiction, Cultural

    When a drought hits her homeland in Sierra Leone, nine-year-old Magulu is sold as a pawn by her father in exchange for rice. But before she can work off her debt, an unthinkable chain of events unfolds: a capture by slave traders; weeks in a dark and airless hold; a landing in Cuba, where she and three other children are sold and taken aboard the Amistad; a mutiny aboard ship; a trial in New Haven that eventually goes all the way to the Supreme Court and is argued in the Africans’ favor by John Quincy Adams. Narrated in a remarkable first-person voice, this fictionalized book of memories of a real-life figure retells history through the eyes of a child — from seeing mirrors for the first time and struggling with laughably complicated clothing to longing for family and a home she never forgets. Lush, full-color illustrations by Robert Byrd, plus archival photographs and documents, bring an extraordinary journey to life.

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  • New Shoes

    by Susan Lynn Meyer Year Published: 2015 Children, Historical Fiction

    Set in the South during the time of segregation, this lushly illustrated picture book brings the civil rights era to life for contemporary readers as two young girls find an inventive way to foil Jim Crow laws.

    When her brother's hand-me-down shoes don't fit, it is time for Ella Mae to get new ones. She is ecstatic, but when she and her mother arrive at Mr. Johnson's shoe store, her happiness quickly turns to dejection. Ella Mae is unable to try on the shoes because of her skin color. Determined to fight back, Ella Mae and her friend Charlotte work tirelessly to collect and restore old shoes, wiping, washing, and polishing them to perfection. The girls then have their very own shoe sale, giving the other African American members of their community a place to buy shoes where they can be treated fairly and "try on all the shoes they want."

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  • The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

    by Christ Barton Year Published: 2015 Biography, Children, Nonfiction

    John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the fi rst African-American congressmen.

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Recommended Reading

  • A Girl Called Problem

    by Katie Quirk Year Published: 2013 Cultural, Mystery, Historical Fiction

    Thirteen-year-old Shida, whose name means “problem” in Swahili, certainly has a lot of problems in her life — her father is dead, her depressed mother is rumored to be a witch, and everyone in her rural Tanzanian village expects her to marry rather than pursue her dream of becoming a healer. So when the village’s elders make a controversial decision to move their people to a nearby village, Shida welcomes the change. Surely the opportunity to go to school and learn from a nurse can only mean good things.

    However, after a series of puzzling misfortunes plague the new village, Shida must prove to her people that moving was the right decision, and that they can have a better life in their new home.

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  • New Boy

    by Julian Houston Year Published: 2005 Historical Fiction, Young Adult

    Fifteen-year-old Rob Garrett wants nothing more than to escape the segregated South and prove himself. But in late 1950s Virginia, opportunity doesn’t come easily to an African American. So Rob’s parents take the unusual step of enrolling their son in a Connecticut boarding school, where he will have the best education available. He will also be the first student of color in the school’s history. No matter—Rob Garrett is on his way.
    But times are changing. While Rob is experiencing the privilege and isolation of private school, a movement is rising back home. Men and women are organizing, demanding an end to segregation, and in Rob’s hometown, his friends are on the verge of taking action. There is even talk about sitting in at a lunch counter that refuses to serve black people. How can Rob hope to make a difference when he’s a world away?

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  • The Skin I'm In

    by Sharon G. Flake Year Published: 2000 Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
    Miss Saunders, whose skin is blotched with a rare skin condition, serves as a mirror to Maleeka Madison's struggle against the burden of low self-esteem that many black girls face when they're darker skinned. Miss Saunders is tough and through this, Maleeka learns to stand up to tough-talking Charlese.
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