News4's Reading List to Celebrate Black History

Diversify your reading list with these picks curated by News4

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These are the News4 picks to celebrate Black history and diversify your bookshelf.

"Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou

News4's Shawn Yancy describes "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou as a poem that "encompasses what it means, or what it's like, to be a woman."

The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

"For me, it sort of feels like her anthem to celebrate the pride of being a woman, a Black woman," Shawn says. "It's a celebration of identity, self-love, self-assurance, self-acceptance, it's about being a phenomenal woman."

"John Henry Days" by Colson Whitehead

"John Henry Days" by Colson Whitehead follows two timelines: one in the past which is the story of John Henry, an American folk hero; and one in the present which follows a Black journalist, J. Sutter, covering John Henry Days festival.

The novel, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, "explores the parallels between the lives of these two men, and between the Industrial Age, which literally killed John Henry, and the Digital Age, which is destroying J. Sutter’s soul."

News4's Aimee Cho recommends the novel for being inventive, creative and hilarious. "Colson Whiteheads' writing really draws you in, makes you feel like you're in the moment," she said.

"Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic"

This installment of the "Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls" series is filled with "Black Girl Magic." By telling dozens of stories of Black women and girls around the world, the book "is designed to acknowledge, applaud and amplify the incredible stories of Black women and girls from the past and present."

tracee wilkins holding black girl magic book

Some women included are Aretha Franklin, Naomi Osaka, Toni Morrison, Ava DuVernay and Ida B. Wells.

The forward is written by Cashawn Thompson, from Washington, D.C., who coined the term "Black Girl Magic" to celebrate the accomplishments of Black women.

News4's Tracee Wilkins recommends this book as it is one of her 7-year-old daughter's favorites.

tracee wilkins daughter

"It is very important to me that when she opens up her book she sees images that she can relate to and stories that help her spark her imagination about her own possibility as a young Black girl," she said.

"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett is a novel about a pair of twin sisters— one living her life as a Black woman and one living it as a white woman.

News4's Jummy Olabanji recommends this family novel in which Bennett poses this question: "What will happen to the next generation when their own daughters' storylines intersect?"

jummy and Britt Bennett Books

"The Mothers" by Brit Bennett

Because of "The Vanishing Half," Jummy also picked up "The Mothers" by Brit Bennett.

Bennett's debut novel begins with a secret set in a contemporary Black community in Southern California. It is described as a story of "community, love, and ambition," after a teen pregnancy from a teen romance has an "impact that goes far beyond their youth."

"Bibliophile: Diverse Spine"

If you want to diversify your reading list, this one is for you.

"It's a great little book bible to have around if you really love to support diverse authors," Jummy says.

This book with rich illustrations is a list of diverse books by Black authors as well well Asian-American, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ writers.

"I Too" by Langston Hughes

News4's Melissa Mollett describes "I Too" by Langston Hughes as the poem that has impacted her the most ever since she read it in grade school.

"I just remember it being very impactful even at that age," Melissa says. "I realized that it was sad, but I didn't fully understand it. I also felt like parts of it towards the end, maybe, were a little bit hopeful."

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

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