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Book Club – February

For Mentors

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

By: Martin Luther Dr. King Jr. 

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this significantly prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, we find King’s acute analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Here he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, powerfully asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.

For Ages 13-17

Piecing Me Together

By: Renée Watson

Jade is a talented collage artist who believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And she has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities.

But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods. And just because Maxine, her college-graduate mentor, is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

“In short, poetic chapters, Jade ponders her family, school, and neighborhood relationships, wondering where she fits in….Jade’s narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson’s story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world.” — Publishers Weekly

For Ages 9-12

The Only Black Girls In Town

By: Brandy Colbert

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black — and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living. When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems. Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert’s debut middle-grade novel explores race, identity, and family.

“The author of the journals was Constance, a young woman who apparently worked as a nanny in the building during the 1950s…. While Alberta and Edie juggle the awkward, sometimes-painful dynamics of middle school friendships, bullies, and racism, their research into the journals leads the girls to a discovery of family and racial dynamics that transcends time. Colbert’s middle-grade debut, centering black girls who represent a range of experiences, deserves a standing ovation. Alberta’s narration is perceptive and accessible as she navigates race in America in the past and present.” — Kirkus Reviews

For Ages 6-8

Sulwe

By: Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school, and give her nicknames like “Darky” and “Night.” Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a shooting star comes in her window and takes her on a magical journey in the night sky, introducing her to the story of Night and Day, two sisters who show that “we need you just the way you are.” The experience opens her eyes and changes everything.

From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within that inspires children to celebrate their uniqueness.

“The story draws its power from graceful prose by actress Nyong’o, making her authorial debut, and expertly executed animation-style art by Harrison (Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History). By turns beguiling (as when Sulwe’s mother counsels her tearful daughter) and magical (a shooting star darts into Sulwe’s room to share the story of Night and Day), the volume also clearly conveys that colorism is real, and it hurts. Sulwe’s story confronts it head-on, with words and images that celebrate the ‘dark and beautiful, bright and strong.'” — Publishers Weekly