This is Feature Shelf, a series that provides book recommendations based on theme or title suggestions. This week’s shelf is part of the Black History Month videos by Black Booktubers organized by my friend Didi. There’s a link to her channel below. Check her out, and check out some of the other Black History Month videos. So this is Feature Shelf #38: The Black History Month Edition. My name is Eli, I’m also called the (book) supplier. Thanks for listening.
So when Didi asked me if I wanted to put together a video, I thought about what I’ve been reading lately in order to process the current events that sparked #blacklivesmatter, some conversations I’ve been having in my personal life, cultural insensitivity I’ve experienced and where I am with my own sense of self as a Black person situated within the history of Black people. So I have five books that speak to and have helped me through the struggles I’ve been having lately.
The first book on this shelf is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. In One Crazy Summer, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern travel from New York to Oakland, California to see the mother who abandoned them. It’s 1968, and the girls, in addition to meeting their mother, get swept up in the Black Panthers in their own interesting ways.
The second book on our Black History Month shelf is Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. It’s about a girl, Amari, who’s stolen from her village following the murder of her family, and put on a slave ship headed for the Carolinas. She’s purchased by a plantation owner as a present for his son. She has the opportunity to escape, and takes it, with the hopes of finding safety in a Spanish colony in Florida. Copper Sun won the Coretta Scott King Award, which, according to the American Library Association, honors “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. So there’s that.
The next book on our list is the most recently published: X: A Novel, written by Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz along with Kekla Magoon. X: A Novel is a fictionalized account of the life of young Malcolm Little — the life before he became the well-known political activist. Malcolm wanted to be a lawyer, but people didn’t take him seriously. His father died and his mother was taken away and the trouble he got into in his past has an annoying habit of following him around. I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s high on my list; I’m really excited about it.
We’re on book 4 now? We don’t have any Christopher Paul Curtis. I feel like this list needs some Christopher Paul Curtis. We have a number to choose from, like Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham, but I think I’m going to go with Elijah of Buxton. Buxton is a settlement of runaway slaves in Canada, just across the border from Detroit, Michigan. Elijah is the first child to be born free in that settlement, and slightly sheltered. When another former slave steals money from a friend of Elijah’s family, he decides to set off into the US to get it back. While he’s there, he experiences the atrocities his parents were running from, one that he doesn’t ever have to experience, if he can just get back home.
The last book on our shelf is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson won the National Book Award in 2014 for this memoir-in-verse about what it’s like to grow up split between New York and South Carolina, and her experience of being a black person in the 1960s and 70s — dealing with the Civil Rights Movement and what was left of Jim Crow. Beautiful, beautiful collection of poems, this. This is one it’s so hard to pin into a paragraph’s worth of summary, so I’ll just say this: If you trust me at all — READ THIS.
And that’s it for this episode — we have five young adult books about the Black experience, mostly set in the United States: One Crazy Summer, Copper Sun, X: A Novel, Elijah of Buxton and Brown Girl Dreaming.
For the Feature Shelf archives and show notes, both video and podcast, or to request your own Feature Shelf check out thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf. You can also send me requests on Facebook or Twitter at thebooksupplier (all one word) or an email at thebooksupplier at gmail dot com. Oh, and the podcast for this shelf has some other recommendations that don’t appear on this shelf, so check that out as well.
I’m going to leave you there now, dear readers. Thanks for watching to Feature Shelf #38: The Black History Month Edition. As always, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.