Libraries respond to #BlackLivesMatter

Deimosa Webber-Bey  //  Jul 27, 2016

Libraries respond to #BlackLivesMatter

One way librarians respond to current events is with a program. Another option is to create a book list or subject guide. But the most visual method of sharing information is to create a thematic book display. I made a few in my time at the public library, relating to holidays, the news, and happenings in pop culture.

This year my fellow book people in libraries and book stores across the country are doing programming, readers advisory, and displays relating to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Here are some examples:

The books that I would place front and center on a display like this are How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, and All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. I imagine the reason that I didn’t see them in these pictures is because they were the first ones to get checked out or purchased! The Hennepin County Library in Minnetonka, MN has gotten a lot of well-deserved praise for the reading list they developed for teens, which has those two titles up at the top.

Most of the books mentioned above will appeal to both teens and adults, so here are some titles for the middle school crowd:

  • Guardian, by Julius Lester – set in 1946, a mob lynches an innocent black man while the 14 year old narrator, who knows the truth, remains silent despite his desire for justice.
  • Kinda Like Brothers, by Coe Booth – a sixth grader navigates the relationship with his new foster brother, and there is a scene where the adults talk to youth about how to interact if they are stopped by the police.
  • Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me – (picture book) written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier – one day dad isn’t there anymore, and a young boy has to learn how to grow into a man without him.
  • Riot, by Walter Dean Myers – set during the NYC draft riots, a biracial girl has family and friends on both sides of the chaos. 
  • The Rock and the River, Kekla Magoon – witness to his friend's brutal beating by the police, the narrator contemplates his father's civil rights activism, his brother's involvement with the Black Panther Party, and where he fits in. 
  • We Could Be Brothers, by Derrick D. Barnes – two boys, with different home lives, become friends during the three days they spend together in after school detention.