Celebrate Black History Month

Add These Titles to your "To Be Read" Pile

As part of my research for my YA novel Half-Truths, I read a lot of books.  And I mean A LOT. Read my pitch and I think you’ll understand why:

In the heavily segregated South, fifteen-year-old Kate Dinsmore’s world is shaken when she realizes she’s related to her grandmother’s black housemaid. This knowledge leads Kate to truths that threaten to destroy her family.

Early on I realized that to make this story authentic (as one of my 94-year-old African American experts charged me to do), I not only had to speak to people who lived through the time period, but I had to read books.

Here are several which informed my story. I hope some of them will pique your interest so you will read them too. The order in which they are displayed reflects the order in which I read them; most recent book is on top.

Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy  Written by North Carolina professor, Elizabeth Gillespie McRae, this book opened my eyes to the role that white women in the South played in maintaining segregation.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop Alice Faye Duncan’s debut picture book told from the perspective of a young girl who “meets” Martin Luther King.

Eyes on the Prize This excellent book on the Civil Rights decade is written by Juan Williams. If you’re looking for an in-depth overview of the Civil Rights movement, then you’ve come to the right book.

Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls’ Escape from Slavery to Union Hero. This is a great panoramic view of South Carolina before, during, and after the Civil War and an eye-opening biography of an amazing man.

Crossing Ebenezer Creek This middle grade novel, based on true events, deepened my understanding of what ex-slaves experienced after “freedom.”

Midnight Without a Moon. This book takes place in Mississippi in the mid-50’s. Linda Williams Jackson’s debut novel uses Emmitt Till’s murder as a background for Rose Lee Carter’s decision not to flee the South. 

Loving vs. Virginia. This is a great curriculum resource written in free verse which shows Mildred and Richard Loving’s struggles to legalize their marriage in Virginia. 

The Lions of Little Rock This classic civil rights book is set in Little Rock, AK in 1958. I now use it as a comp title in my pitch for Half-Truths!

Carver: A Life in Poems. Lillian, my most important secondary character, wants to be a scientist. What better person to model her goals after than George Washington Carver?

Primary Lessons: A Memoir by Sarah Bracey White Sarah grew up in the Jim Crow south and here I share excerpts describing her experiences. 

Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond. This book was a fascinating look into Strom Thurmond’s bi-racial daughter and the many challenges she and her mother faced. I blogged about it extensively. 

The Color of Love. This is an autobiographical account of a boy whose mother falls in love with a black man in the Jim Crow South. 

Mixed: My life in Black and White  A candid autobiography written by Angela Nissel. She describes what it was like to grow up in Philadelphia as a bi-racial child during the second half of the 20th century.

Fly Girl  A beautifully written YA novel about a young black woman who becomes a pilot during WWII.

A Lesson Before Dying. A book review of a powerful book portraying racism in Louisiana in the 1940’s.

 

Here are a few of the books that didn’t make it into this list!

Let me know which books you add to your TBR list!

When Carol is not working on Half-Truths or blogging, you’ll find her traveling, trying to improve her golf game, or playing and reading books to one of her six grandchildren. A new member of the Write2Ignite Team, Carol seeks to serve the Lord with the writing gifts He has given her. She has published two non-fiction books and dozens of newspaper and magazine articles and enjoys teaching writing to teens and adults. For more information, please visit her blog where she reviews and gives away gobs of books!

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