My Top 5 Books for Black History Month

My Top 5 Books for Black History Month

Happy Black History month, y’all! I thought I’d share some of my favorite books that have exposed me to culture and history through the power of story. 😉

And as a person with Jewish heritage, I know what it can feel like to have all the available stories reduced to your greatest historical traumas, so I tried to include little-known time periods or books centered on Black joy for a breath of fresh air. 😉

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker

I really enjoyed Hidden Figures (and researched the true story afterward), so I was delighted to come across this beautiful picture book biography of Katherine Johnson. I enjoyed the look into her childhood, the amazing illustrations, and the timeline in the back that shared even more details of her life than either the book or movie could fit. I think this is a great introduction to an American hero and inspiring woman. 😉

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods

This was my first introduction to WW2 history outside of European wars, resistance fighters, or homefront stories. The racism and challenges Black GIs faced after coming home from war shouldn’t have shocked me but set in this “idyllic” little town from the perspective of a privileged main character, everything was put into stark perspective. This was definitely a tougher read, but I credit it with “gently” introducing me to less well-known Black history and making me realize there was a lot more I needed to research.

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women’s Lives by Catherine Parks

We’ve all heard about Joni Eareckson Tada, Corrie Ten Boom, and Elizabeth Elliot, women of faith who’ve made a great impact on the world and our history, but this collection of short biographies took it even further, including and focusing on Black and Asian women whose stories often go untold. I really enjoyed reading about their lives and how God worked so powerfully through them. I also found all tough topics to be addressed respectfully and age-appropriately, so this is definitely one that could be great for young readers.

The Trouble With Love by Toni Shiloh (and sequels)

I discovered this romance novel mainly through the adorable covers and a desire to read more diversely. I fell completely in love with this swoony, creative world, the strong female friendships that took center stage (sometimes even over the romance!), and the deep spiritual themes that were naturally included. Let’s just say I binged the series as it released and am now a forever fan. 😉 *has one of her newest books sitting on my shelf and another pre-ordered* 😉

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

I found this book totally by accident when I stumbled upon the author’s Instagram and completely fell in love with the aesthetic. The second book was just releasing, so I of course hunted down the first and gobbled it up. It’s seriously cute and completely lives up to the nerdiness of the cover. A writer MC? With a soft, baker boy love interest? Sign me up! The representation of her anxiety actually helped me recognize and accept my own, so I’ll be forever grateful for that. I have the second book her from the library, and the author’s latest has me severely tempted. 👀

For more book recommendations, check out Toni Shiloh’s Instagram reels and this blog post by Nadine Keels.

Do you have any favorite books about Black history or Black joy? Recommend them in the comments. 😉 My TBR thanks you.

An Empowering Book

An Empowering Book

Do you ever buy a book just because it’s beautiful and then you find that the contents are even more beautiful in ways you couldn’t have even imagined?

I bought this book because the concept sounded cute, and I absolutely love the illustrators’ work, but beyond that Empowered by Catherine Parks was just another book.

Until I opened it up and was immediately hit with a Gospel-rich introduction. The easy to read, short chapters slipped past my 2020-induced reader’s block, and I wanted to both savor it and gobble it up.

Le book

Numerous chapters brought on the tears with portraits of women of God in unique, defining moments of their lives. I learned about Pandita Ramabai, Esther Ahn Kim and others, women of color whose stories I’d either never heard or only knew the revisionist details of.

I read stories about the Ten Boom sisters, Elizabeth Elliott, and others you would expect, ready to skim over testimonies that felt literally drilled into my head but was shocked and delighted to find new perspectives, new highlights to their lives, and even more inspiration and encouragement.

I found topics such as racism, slavery, and the Holocaust to be handled with age-appropriate honesty and respect to those who experienced them, and I would hand this book to readers of all ages.

The study questions, while best used in a book club of middle-grade readers, were helpful and interesting to me as well.

Charlotte Grimke

The illustrations (as expected! 😂😍) were a delight, and God shone through every chapter.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Review)

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Review)

This movie means so much to me as an author (it perfectly captures the agony and ecstasy), as a reader (nerdiness abounds), as a human who doesn’t always deal with the past well and sometimes finds fictional people more “real” than living, breathing ones. Much to think about, much to love about life.

The Victorian backdrop and the perfectly subtle, creative references to A Christmas Carol were an absolute delight. Dan Stevens is a powerful actor, though I love the whole cast really.

It’s an intensely frightening moment when the message you’re writing for other people is exactly the one you need to hear…

I didn’t grow up on this movie, but I already feel it becoming a tradition. 💚

CW: extreme poverty, verbal abuse, dead rodent, angry conversations, ghosts 😉, familial hurt. A scene where the walls of a hole shrink in at intervals may trigger claustrophobia.

Book Review: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Book Review: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

28114411““SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.” (from Goodreads)

When I’m dead and famous, please write my biography exactly like this one by Melissa Sweet. It felt like reading a scrapbook with all the photographs, newspaper clippings, and letters scattered throughout. The scrapbooked decorations were adorable, and the illustration style was very fun. ❤ Quite the aesthetically pleasing book! My favorite part was when it showed the six different drafts of the first line for Charlotte’s Web. I quite identified with his author-ly struggle. 😉 E.B. White led an enthusiastic, jam-packed life. His was a lesson in gleaning experience, joy, and wonder from every circumstance. His sense of humor was up my alley, and I love his frank yet whimsical writing style. Since this book was written for children, the author did a good job of keeping things light and engaging. I was especially delighted to see two of my other literary favorites featured in this book. Garth Williams is my all-time favorite illustrator, and William J. Strunk is the best. I’ve personally learned a ton from The Elements of Style so it was great to hear a little more about the men behind it. Just a note that the way in which he met and married his wife is not God-honoring but kept brief and vague.

Best quote: “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. I guess you can find that in there, if you dig around.”

Altogether, I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a biography so much! I’d definitely recommend this book to every author, artist, and booklover. 😉