Opportunities to amplify Black voices, histories, and futures extend throughout the year, particularly in a library. However, Calhoun’s Sora collection only keeps growing (we’re up to nearly 800 ebooks now!) and Black History/Futures Month is an excellent opening for me to highlight a bunch of great titles so they don’t get lost in all that content. The theme at Calhoun this month is The Future is Black: Radical Joy and Justice, and likewise the ebooks here were selected because they each, in some way, center on Black joy and experience. Log into Sora to read them, or to browse all the other books I simply didn’t have room to talk about.
Black History/Black Futures @ The Library continues outside of Calhoun’s library as well! The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture works throughout the year to make Black history, activism, scholarship, and creativity the center of conversation. Visit their website any month for digital exhibitions, remote events, research support, and recommended reading lists from NYPL librarians.
Featured Ebooks on Sora:
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Speaking of the Schomburg Center – How much do you know about the man who created it? Written in poems, this picture book chronicles the life of Arturo Schomburg and his mission to put work from generations of Black artists and scholars in the spotlight.
I Am Every Good Thing
The duo behind Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is back with a work of literary art that celebrates Black boys – and all their confidence, jubilance, and limitless potential – with the undeniable declaration “I am every good thing that makes the world go round.”
Matthew A. Cherry’s original animated short made waves when it was screened before the Angry Birds movie a few years ago, and rightly so. If you’ve seen it before, now you can enjoy it all over again as a beautifully-adapted picture book; if you haven’t seen it yet, borrow the book on Sora and experience it for yourself! (And then look up the short on YouTube afterwards, because seriously, you gotta see it.)
The Last Last-Day-Of-Summer
Cousins Otto and Sheed Alston are problem-solving sleuths in the very odd town of Fry. But just as their eventful summer is about to end, a stranger with a mysterious camera makes the time in town freeze! And even worse, Otto and Sheed might only be able to fix it if they can make their adventuring rivals, the Ellison sisters, agree to a truce long enough for them to collaborate on a solution.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
Perfect for Rick Riordan fans, the first book in this exciting ongoing series takes seventh grader Tristan Strong – boxer-in-training, unexpectedly magic, and mourning his best friend – and transports him to Alke, a parallel land where African-American folk heroes and West African gods are facing down a serious threat. If Tristan wants to help save the day, get back home, and fix that hole he accidentally made by crashing through Alke’s sky in the first place, he’ll have to make a bargain with the trickster Anansi himself… If Tristan can manage to find him.
“I want to cast a spell where a black trans girl is never hurt,” author Akwaeke Emezi said in a New York Times interview about their first young adult novel. And their protagonist Jam is perfectly safe in the city of Lucille, because everyone knows that there are no more monsters there. But when she meets Pet, a strange creature who claims to hunt the monsters still lurking in the city’s shadows, Jam has to rethink everything she’s been told – and wonder if anyone will believe her when she reveals the truth. (The 8th grade will be reading Pet soon with Krystal, so why not read it along with them?)
Charming as a Verb
Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger is a charming social chameleon, a debate team star, a determined student, and a dedicated son. He’s also being blackmailed by his classmate Corinne Troy after she discovers the not-quite-honest side of his dog walking gigs. Now Henri has been roped into helping Corinne remake her image at their prestigious high school. What’s the worst that could happen?
Somebody Give This Heart a Pen
The first collection from acclaimed UK performance poet Sophia Thakur, Somebody Give This Heart a Pen is a selection of coming-of-age poems that explore identity, difference, joy, loss, perseverance, and more. As with many poets, the best way to really feel Thakur’s power is to hear (and watch) her perform one of her works; Jamie Broadnax, creator of Black Girl Nerds, recommends “Little Black Girls” in her book review.