Oh wait, it’s also Valentine’s Day? Eh. Give me a book holiday focusing on literacy any day!
Started just last year by a bookstore in Chicago, National Black Literacy Day focuses on building upon the concept that “Literacy is Freedom” and that “Reading is a Revolutionary Act”. It is focused on increasing literacy rates for underrepresented people in the Chicago area and beyond! February 14th is not only Frederick Douglass’ birthday, but also Valentine’s Day, and they’d like encourage readers to focus on the love of community via literacy.
Children who read proficiently by third grade have an 89% chance of graduating from high school. But 71% of children in Shelby County are reading at below grade level. And 1 in 7 adults in Shelby County cannot read. Celebrating and encouraging literacy can literally be life-changing.
So how can you celebrate National Black Literacy Day? Here are some suggestions:
- Read a book by a Black author. (I’m including a huge list of suggestions.)
- Shop the Black Book Fair, a collaboration between Tribe Bookstore and The Lab School of Memphis. It will be at First Baptist Church, 2835 Broad Ave. at 3:30.
- Buy a book from a Black owned bookstore. DeMoir Books and Things in East Memphis and The African Place downtown are two to check out, plus the one above.
- Buy a children’s book with a Black main character. MMC has several lists; see this, this, and this.
- Sign up to read to a child or a school. Literacy Mid-South and ARISE2Read are great organizations to volunteer with or donate to.
Since we have several lists focusing on children’s books, I thought I would include a list of books for YOU by Black authors. I’m going to include fiction and nonfiction works, but keep in mind that this list barely scratches the surface.
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
The Wedding Date (just go ahead and read the whole series) by Jasmine Guillory
And American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
If You Come Softly and Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate you Give by Angie Thomas
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Crone
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Castle: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Here for H by R. Eric Thomas
Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
The Beauty in Breaking by Michelle Harper
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
What books would you add?