Happy Black History Month!
Black history month was officially recognized in Canada on December 1995. This month is dedicated to the achievements of everyone who has contributed to all of the key moments in black history. To celebrate, I will be sharing books in the categories of black history, contemporary, self-love and acceptance, fantasy and science fiction. If you’re looking for books to read during this month, or if you’re looking to read books about black history or the black experience, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I will be sharing books to read in celebration of Black History Month. They cover topics like slavery, the Underground Railroad, civil rights and more. You’ll find out about Canada’s role and history in the slave trade as well as read fiction and non-fiction books about important black figures that have made an impact throughout our history. I will be dividing the books into kid-friendly titles as well as fiction and non-fiction for a general audience As you’re reading this list of recommendations, you can also note the books you are interested in and put them on hold online, for pick up at any of our eight library branches in Brampton!
- Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed: This is a story about the first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison. It is meant to inspire young children, especially girls, to go for their dreams. Young Mae dreams of being an astronaut despite different opinions from her teacher and classmates. She continues to pursue her dreams and becomes the first African American woman in history to go to space. Recommended for ages 4 and over.
- Black Women Who Dared by Naomi N. Moyer: A picture book that features the lives of black women from the past who paved the way for black women in Canada and America today. This book will take you on a colourful journey through these women’s struggles, accomplishments, and how they’ve made history. Recommended for ages 9-13.
- Viola Desmond won’t be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner: An inspiring storybook for kids based on how Viola Desmond changed Canadian history and fought for the rights of black people by standing up for herself. Recommended read for ages 6-9.
- Malaika’s Winter Carnival by Irene Luxbacher and Nadia L. Hohn: A picture book about a girl, Malaika, who is not impressed when her mother gets married and has to move to Canada with her from the Caribbean. Recommended for ages 3-9.
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan: Written by two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author Esi Edugyan, Washington Black is an adventurous work of historical fiction that follows Washington, a slave who has been sold to an unconventional slave master called Tish. Washington’s responsibilities are to help with Tish’s science experiments. Unfortunately, things change when Tish runs away with Washington in an effort to save him from a false murder conviction. This story explores the relationship between slave and master and the journey towards freedom and love.
- Brother by David Chariandy: A story of two brothers set in Scarborough, Ontario in the summer of 1991, one of the city’s most violent summers ever. The themes of identity, struggle, grief and relationships can all be found in this book. It starts from the boys watching their immigrant mother work triple shifts at her cleaning job, explores the violence in their impoverished immigrant community as well as police violence and brutality.
- An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole: A suspense-filled historical romance about a free woman named Elle who becomes an undercover spy on a plantation during the U.S. Civil War. Elle falls in love with a white man, an illegal act, and attempts to avoid getting caught while successfully completing her mission.
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin: A love story that endures the test of family drama, false imprisonment and loss.
- Black Writers Matter: Prose Written From a Point of View by Whitney French: A collection of stories from black writers of diverse backgrounds such as cab drivers, immigrants and activists. These stories are poetic, express strong emotions that are felt by readers and the end of each story provides a smooth resolution. The intersectionality of the writers makes this anthology a relatable read.
- Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard: A book that challenges the notion of Canada as a “cultural safe haven,” when compared to the United States. It highlights the racism in Canadian history and how this racism affects minorities such as black and indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ and immigrants today. This book is for you if you want to learn about systemic anti-black discrimination and the racism that minorities, immigrants and indigenous people faced in the past and how it has come to affect them now.
- The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole: An outline of true stories that highlight black people’s experiences with police forces in Canada. This book challenges us to disrupt our ignorance toward systemic racism in Canada.
- They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train porters and the Birth of Modern Canada by Cecil Foster: The story of black train porters in Canada and their contribution to Canadian advancement, diversity and inclusivity.
- Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston: Cudjo Lewis, who was on one of the last ships to America during the slave trade, tells the story of his challenges coming to America as a slave and how he became a free man.