#1. The Hate U Give
Three years ago, this book was so relevant and so powerful. Today it’s even more so, which frankly makes me sad and angry at the same time. How are we going backwards? This is one of the best works of fiction about this issue. There are a few situations in the book that maybe make it unsuitable for younger audiences, but it is an amazing book for teens and adults. If you have a kid that’s maybe too young for it, see this next book.
#2. Ghost Boys
I’ve sold this book as “The Hate U Give for middle-grade readers” before. In it, twelve year old Jerome is killed by a police officer for having a toy gun and meets fellow ghost, Emmet Till. Emmet helps him process what happened and walks him through the historical racism that lead to his death. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the officer who killed him. Yeah, I know. …..heavy. This book is great read for your eight-fourteen year old who is struggling to understand what’s happening in the news right now.
There’s an adult version of this book, but I haven’t read it, so I can’t speak to it. The remix version for young readers, though. Man. This book…… I wish I could download this title into the brains of everyone in this country, There’s so much here I didn’t ever know or ever think about. For example, did you know that racism started as a marketing scheme for slave trading companies? The Portuguese traders spun the lie that their African slave trade was better than other European slave trade because it was moral. The Africans were not civilized and by kidnapping them and enslaving them, the Europeans were bringing them culture, civilization and Christianity. The marketing lie worked. Soon, other countries abandoned European slave trade, and focused only on Africa. To justify what was so obviously an abhorrent practice, the traders continued the lie. It wasn’t wrong. They were making these slaves better people. They were less than human anyways. It’s just crazy to me that the most successful, widely believed marketing spin in history is racism and that people are still buying it today.
Read this book. Have your kids read this book. If you aren’t readers, listen to the audio book together. It’s important.
I know this is a difficult conversation for white people to have with our kids. It’s time to stop pretending like black people aren’t being murdered by police officers, though. Our kids aren’t dumb and if they don’t get the honest truth about what’s happening, then they’re going to grow up and find themselves in the same world that we live in, nothing changed.
Also, please encourage your kids read books with stories about people of color. This “our stories/their stories” culture that we live in is not a healthy one. Our kids are the future. This world can be better. It starts with sharing stories and experiences.