I am a boy mom. A Black boy mom. A boy who loves anime, cousins, gaming, and food from around the world. When it came time to choose his last quarter independent reading book, he skipped over Ghost Boys and opted for The Giver. He isn’t interested about reading about the other part of his identity. The part that makes him afraid of the skin he is in.
And as his mom, I am okay with that for now. He along with millions of other black boys are more than trauma and pain and violence and poverty and as a teacher and a book pusher, I want, no I NEED, people to see our black boys beyond that. Let’s interrupt the narrative about African- American boys.
So here are my favorite books that show black boy joy in no special order.
Maniac Magee meet two brothers and this new visitor in town that as you are reading, it is hard to pin- point his angle. This is a fun book of the trials and tribulations of trying to fit in and brotherly relationships. This book you will find as a book club choice in one of my book club units on Teachers Pay Teachers.
You know all those crazy ideas that pop into your head while day dreaming? Yeah, well this author put them all down in a book and brings us along for the ride. What an entertaining book. You as the reader can have zero expectations of what the next page will bring but that is the surprise of the book. You can also find this book in the Summer Fun Book Club Unit you can find in my TpT store.
Even though most of the other books have male protagonist, Zoe Washington has an awesome sidekick in this book that needs to be celebrated. Of course, he starts off not being on her good side but his redemption and the way he goes hard for Zoe is what I want all kids to experience. He is that type of friend who is not afraid to say when he is wrong and tries to do better the next time. He is the type of friend who has your best interest at heart and will push you towards your goal. That is to always be celebrated in young children.
No review of books that show joy of young African-American boys is complete without bringing up a book by the amazing writer, Kwame Alexander. Crossover is his award- winning book in verse about twin teenage boys who are realizing that they may not always be in sync but the brother bond will always be there. It is a great coming-of-age book as we see the boys navigate their school and home life and how they handle it both together and apart. No library is complete without all of Kwame’s books.
This last book is actually a picture book but there shouldn’t be an age limit on reading picture books. This is the story of young John Lewis. It is a story to remind kids to develop their passions no matter what people might say.
Our Black boys need to see themselves on the pages of books in ordinary ways, in a variety of ways , in ways different from what the world tries to portray of them. Other ethnicities need to see this as well.