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.