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Book Recommendations from the African American Literature Book Club

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Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson is Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic. Her memoir relates her experience growing up, in the 1950s, as part of Chicago’s black upper class. In a recent interview, with NPR, Jefferson describes her parent’s generation’s reaction to the Black Power movement.

“My parents were at one with the civil rights movement, but Black Power, it flung its disdainful hand at much that they believed in and much of who they were. And that was very, very painful. Just beginning with the disdain, the contempt with which the word “Negro” was used, which had been their generation[‘s] and the generation before theirs word of honor. And suddenly “Negro” became the sign and symbol of — for the Black Power movement — of deference … of corruption, of corrupt bourgeoisie values, of rejection of black identity and black pride. This was horrible for them. In its way, it was traumatic.”


Dark Justice by Diane Cooper

Diane Cooper was sentenced to 40 Years for crime she didn’t commit. I was shooting a video of the author, during the First Read Expo in Atlanta, thinking I was learning more about a work of fiction. I was about two feet away from her when she says the story is about her life. I almost dropped my camera! Occasionally I meet an author whose book I have to read immediately. I was not disappointed. I was also reminded of my mother’s advice to watch the company you keep.


Trust: Mastering the 4 Essential Trusts by Iyanla Vanzant

You just can’t trust anyone—it’s a constant refrain in the modern world, and learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult lessons. This leads to fear and uncertainty, which too often erodes our confidence and undermines our relationships. “That’s because trust is not a verb,” says legendary life coach Iyanla Vanzant, “it’s a noun. In fact, trust is a state of mind and a state of being.”

In Trust, Iyanla explains what trust really is, reveals how and why to trust, and explores how to cultivate this liberating power. She outlines the special rewards that come from mastering the four essential trusts – trust in God, trust in yourself, trust in others, and trust in life—and shares how these opportunities encourage our true state of being. When trust is broken, it brings us face to face with our shadow, revealing our hidden beliefs and expectations about how things “should” be. This book’s pragmatic prescriptions demonstrate how to avoid trust-destroying behaviors through communication, consistency and cooperation.


Children’s Books

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Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Coretta Scott King Award Winner and bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it’s like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

It’s the summer of 1969, and Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit Big Ma and her eighty-two-year-old mother, Ma Charles. Pa can’t remind them enough that the South’s not like Brooklyn, and that you can’t get more southern than Alabama.


Willimena Rules: 9 Steps to the Best, Worst, Greatest Holiday Ever! by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner and Willimena is usually excited about her favorite time of the year. There are fun decorations, yummy food, the seven principles of Kwanzaa and, of course, gifts for both holidays. But this year, no one feels much like celebrating. Aunt Laura lost her job and Dad and Mom say that big changes are coming for the family—changes that mean Willie may not get that bike she wanted. Willie thinks she has it bad until she sees how these big changes are affecting her cousin Teddy. He’s usually nice, friendly, and greets Willie with a grin. But lately, he’s sad, mad, and downright rude. He doesn’t seem to want to celebrate the holidays at all, and nothing Willie does to cheer him up is working. Christmas and Kwanzaa are supposed to be joyful, but this year is turning out to be the worst. Can Willie find a way to bring “happy” back to the holidays?


Mommy Says! by Rosheena Beek, Illustrated by Warren L. Maye

When something seems hard to do, Mommy makes everything better through her wisdom. This story has little symbols that help us to understand what Mommy says. These symbols are called Adinkra symbols. For many years the Asante people of Ghana, West Africa, have painted and carved Adinkra symbols.

This book has been chosen by the Children’s Defense Fund, as part of their “Freedom School” program curriculum listing 2016.


Scary, Scary Sasha by Starr T. Balmer

Creepy, crawly bugs give Sasha goose bumps. Her fear grows when her mother tells her to pick vegetables from the garden — an eerie, scary place where she believes all bugs live forever and ever. Her mother says many of the bugs in the garden protect the vegetables. But can she stand up to the bugs despite her fear? Scary, Scary Sasha illustrates how a young girl challenges her fear and transforms into a proud, courageous leader, while developing knowledge and respect for the creepy, crawly species of the garden world. Readers join Sasha on her exciting, yet daunting trek, encouraging all to examine their own personal fears and accomplishments, while building confidence and determination.


To promote the diverse spectrum of literature written by, or about, people of African descent by helping readers find the books and authors they will enjoy.  We accomplish our goals through, our related platforms, and partnerships.

About (African American Literature Book Club) is the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited, web site dedicated to books and film by or about people of African descent. Started in 1997, is a widely recognized source of author profiles, book and film reviews, book recommendations, event information, discussion forums, writer resources, interviews, articles, videos, and more.

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