Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Books for a young black man?

I got the following request from a blog reader to recommend books that "a young black man should read." Off the top of my head, I would suggest the YA novels of Walter Dean Myers, Coe Booth, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sharon Draper and Booker T. Mattison. More suggestions can be found at Reading in Color, the blog for black teen readers, on this great list compiled by author Zetta Elliott of middle grade and young adult novels by black authors released in 2011 and on this list of YA books by other minority writers put together by the Happy Nappy Bookseller.

But my additional advice would be to find out what the young man enjoys. Sports? Find sports books. Horror? Get him some scary books (Try Brandon Massey, L.A. Banks, Tananarive Due, Terrence Taylor). Maybe he would enjoy graphic novels and comics: let him read about some black superheroes. Fire up his imagination by introducing him to science fiction.

Too often I think people assume that if a book is about a kid about the same age in about the same situation as the young reader then the young reader will automatically like the book. Maybe, but maybe not. The writer I loved the most when I was in high school was Stephen King, and even today I'm a big Harry Potter fan. I don't think it's a good idea to only focus on the outside circumstances of a person's life when thinking about books he might actually enjoy. Part of the pleasure of reading for me is escaping from the circumstances of my situation, if only for a short time.

Enjoyment. Pleasure. Fun. Keep those words in mind when shopping for a book for anyone. Instead of thinking what he "should" read, think of what might blow his mind or tickle him.

Teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, young readers, read below and then if you have recommendations for this person, let us know in the comments. Thanks! 


I would like to kindly ask if you had the time to suggest the top ten or twenty books, you feel, a young black man should read. I am looking to develop a list to find books for a young man, for the holidays and birthdays, who reads, slowly, with resistance and complaint, is struggling with his racial identity, his poverty, life with his mother and his sister, and without his absent father and extended family. Thank you very much for any thing you can suggest! I have posted this question, in greater detail, as the beginning of a new blog I have started on wordpress.


Karen Denise said...

Love the suggestions, even though my family is FULL of girls-lol. I'll still recommend some of these books to them because, just like you said, something outside of what they know and have experienced my just be what they want to read. Great post!

Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

I would suggest "up From Slavery' by Booker T Washington and 'Richest Man in Babylon" by George S Clayson

Mahogany Books also has a list of books for black boys: http://bit.ly/vnJ0tC

Shannon @ Reading Has Purpose said...

I visited the blog of the person who asked the question to try to leave a comment there but the comments setting is very restrictive. One other book I would recommend is Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

Anonymous said...

"Should" read is an interesting proposition indeed! I find it difficult to make blanket suggestions without knowing the young man's interest because he 'should' read something that will keep him reading. There is a good reading list in Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males. Young males often enjoy sports and there are currently many good sports histories of Blacks in tennis, football, baseball and basketball. The Boondocks and Still I Rise are popular as well as manga, and superheroes such as Icon, xMen and Batman. Others may enjoy the Flight series, Percy Jackson or Twilight. In my experience, young Black men are more willing to explore a diverse selection of reading materials.

Kim Possible said...

Love this thread! Boys I know have enjoyed The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey.

Akum said...

Thanks for the suggestions. Btw, I like your blog.