If you’ve heard about 11 year old Marley Dias’s drive to collect 1000 books which have black girls as the main characters you may have been inspired! I know I was! Marley noticed that none of the books she was reading in school had black girls as the main character – they were all about “white boys and their dogs” as Marley is quoted saying. The great news is: Marley collected over 1000 titles! Check out the project on Twitter using the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks.
Here are some suggestions of great reads for young people featuring girls and women of colour you can get at Winnipeg Public Library!
One of my favourite books of all time is Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. If you enjoy science fiction and any of books by Octavia Butler or Ursula K. Leguin – this book may be for you! It is set in dystopian Toronto and stars a young woman named Ti-Jean who faces an epic battle against a criminal mastermind named Rudy. (for mature readers)
The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland is a gripping and heart wrenching true story of a young girl in Sierra Leone who survives violence at the hands of rebel soldiers who cut off both her hands. The amazing and resilient Mariatu now lives in Toronto where she is a spokesperson and advocate for child victims of war. (for mature readers)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a book of poetry (FYI –it’s also available as a sound recording!) exploring growing up in the south as an African American person in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is a work that provides a social commentary on the civil rights movement and segregation as well as a touching look into family relationships and friendships.
Do you like graphic novels? Check out the Ayaseries by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. Originally written in French, Montreal’s Drawn and Quarterly have translated all six volumes into English. The stories are loosely based on the author’s life growing up in Côte d’Ivoire and are filled with dynamic characters who come in and out of Aya’s life.
For a quirky, funny and caring “coming-of-age” story check out Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon. It takes place in West Philadelphia and stars a girl named Kenya Curtiss who knows she and her family are a little “different”.
Check out Between Sisters by Adwoa Badoe – a book exploring themes of transition between cultures and from small town to big city. This book delves into tough issues such as HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and poverty in an engaging and sometimes humorous way.
If you are interested in some specifically Canadian authors whose books feature awesome girls of colour check out this fabulous list by CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/02/25-great-canadian-blackgirlbooks.html
Finally, check out this Human Rights booklist made just for teens by librarians at Winnipeg Public Library:http://wpl.winnipeg.ca/library/pdfs/downloadables/HRreadingTeens.pdf