Adult Summer Challenge Reviews, Imagine Your Story Part 1

By Shaileen Beyer, Librarian Fiction Department

Valerie S. on Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler: Another delicious helping of contemporary life in Baltimore — just before coronavirus — that ended too quickly and left me wanting more. Tyler’s main characters are usually funny and fallible. This novel is no exception. A perfect summer read.

Redhead by the Side of the Road
Anne Tyler
Book|eBook|Audiobook

Michael M. on Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: Evaristo opened my eyes with this gorgeous semi-prose book. Identity can be an obstacle, but it can also be a fountain of joy when fully realized. Many characters fall into unhealthy relationships with an imbalance of power. Past trauma, mistreatment, or marginalization leads the characters to trust and rely on people who ultimately take advantage of them. It’s a compelling and crucial read with as broad a range of emotions as possible.

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo
Book|eBook

Ashley S. on The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary: This is a must-read for every parent who is interested in helping their children blossom and grow.

The Conscious Parent
Shefali Tsabary
Book

Rachel P. on A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr: A book about friends whose ideals about love and marriage are tested and true friendships and true love are shown to hold up when communication and trust are a part of the recipe. A fun read!

A Summer in Sonoma
Robyn Carr
eBook|Audiobook

Stephanie H. on My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: A fast-paced and immersive read. Fun use of language and first-person narrative.

My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwait
Book|eBook|Audiobook

Yana C. on White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo: …Truly required reading for every white person in America. She does a great job of clearly explaining concepts like prejudice, discrimination, racism, white privilege, white supremacy, and of course, white fragility. Straightforward yet will really challenge your views and get you out of your comfort zones, both for those who do not understand their role in the system but also for those white progressives who feel “woke.:”

White Fragility
Robin DiAngelo
Book|eBook|Audiobook

Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 17 and August 12.

Gay Pride and Black Lives

By Emily Sachs, African American Department

Each year in June, Baltimore and other cities across the U.S. host Gay Pride parades and festivals.  These events celebrate LGBTQ+ lives and commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a protest against police brutality that catalyzed the modern Gay Rights Movement. 

Sister Outsider
By Audre Lorde
Book|eBook|Audio

Unapologetic
By Charlene A. Carruthers

Book|eBook|Audio

This year the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march is different, with many large, in-person Pride events cancelled.  The country is reeling under a historic pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black people and communities of color.  The health crisis is also occurring amidst a backdrop of ongoing protests focused on ending the killing of Black people by police, confronting systemic racism, and dismantling white supremacy.  

The Truth that Never Hurts
By Barbara Smith

Book

How We Fight for our Lives
By Saeed Jones

Book|eBook

Pride month has brought increased public discussion around the intersection of the LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter movements.    We see it acknowledged, at least aesthetically, by organizations who this year have opted to display Pride flags that include black and brown stripes, an acknowledgement of the unique inequities experienced by Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people.  We see it on the cover of Time Magazine, where Baltimore photographer Devin Allen captured a scene from a recent march against police brutality organized by the Black transgender community in Baltimore.  We see it in interviews with The Pride Center of Maryland (the host of Baltimore Pride) that discuss this year’s realignment of Baltimore Pride with Black Lives Matter.

Don’t Call Us Dead
By Danez Smith

Book|eBook|Audio
Black on Both Sides
By C. Riley Snorton

Book|eBook

With Baltimore Pride cancelled this year, Pratt Library staff will miss seeing you in the streets and talking to you in Druid Hill Park.  Instead we invite you to check out our books and movies to learn more about the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social identities.

In addition to our books, eBooks and Audio books, below you’ll find a few film titles from the Kanopy catalog, but we have many more.  Write to us on Facebook or Twitter to share your own recommendations we’d love to hear from you. 

The New Black: LGBT Rights in African American Communities
Watch film
The Watermelon Woman
Watch film
Passing – Profiling the Lives of Young Transmen of Color
Watch film
Naz & Maalik
Watch film

Diverse Reads for Middle Schoolers

Just in time for summer break! Here’s a look at a few diverse books, perfect for middle school students.


For Black Girls Like Me
By Mariama Lockington

Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda’s family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena- the only other adopted black girl she knows- for a new life.

Book | eBook | eAudio

Harbor Me
By Jacqueline Woodson

When the six students start meeting together weekly, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Book | eBook

Infinite Hope
By Ashley Bryan

From celebrated author and illustrator Ashley Bryan comes a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.

Book | eBook

Finding Langston
By Lesa Cline Ransome

When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. Until he finds the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, Langston discovers another Langston—a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him.

Book | eBook | eAudio

The Season of Styx Malone
By Kekla Magoon

Meet Caleb and Bobby Gene, two brothers embarking on a madcap, heartwarming, one-thing-leads-to-another adventure in which friendships are forged, loyalties are tested . . . and miracles just might happen.

Book | eBook | eAudio

Brave. Black. First.
By Cheryl Hudson

Published in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, discover over fifty remarkable African American women whose unique skills and contributions paved the way for the next generation of young people.

Book | eBook


For more Diverse Reads check out these titles.

A Good Kind of Trouble
By Lisa Moore Ramée
Book | eBook
Black Brother, Black Brother
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Book | eBook
Clean Getaway
By Nic Stone
Book | eBook

From the Desk of Zoe Washington
By Janae Marks
Book | eBook

Ghost Boys
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Book | eBook
Look Both Ways
By Jason Reynolds
Book | eBook
Pathfinders
By Tonya Bolden
Book | eBook
The Only Black Girls in Town
By Brandy Colbert
Book | ebook
The Stars Beneath Our Feet
By David Barclay Moore
Book | eBook

Looking for more diverse books to read? Check out the Pratt’s collection of Diverse Reads for Middle Schoolers.

Diverse Books for Elementary Students

The school year might be ending but learning should never stop! Here’s a great list of diverse books for Elementary School readers.


A Ride to Remember
By Sharon Langley

This book reveals how in 1963, demonstrations and public protests lead the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park to became desegregated. Learn how tells how a community came together—both black and white—to make a change.

Book | eBook | eAudio

A Girl Like Me
By Angela Johnson

Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews’s distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.

Book | eBook

The Undefeated
By Kwame Alexander

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. 

Book | eBook

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice
By Mahogany Browne

Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

Book | eBook

Hidden Figures
By Margot Lee Sheterly

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do.

Book | eBook


Get Up, Stand Up
By Cedella Marley
Book | eBook
Radiant Child
By Javaka Steptoe

Book | eBook
Josephine
By Patricia Hruby Powell
Book | eBook
Let the Children March
By Monica-Clark Robinson

Book | eBook
This is the Rope
By Jacqueline Woodson

Book | eBook
The First Step
By Susan Goodman

Book | eBook

Preaching to the Chickens
By Jabari Asim
Book
Freedom Over Me
By Ashley Bryan
Book | eBook
Whoosh!
By Chris Barton

Book | eBook
Before She was Harriet
By Lesa Cline-Ransome
Book | eBook


Looking for more diverse books? Check out the Pratt’s collection of Diverse Books for Elementary Students.

Diverse Reading Recommendations for our Youngest Readers

Are you looking for diverse books to read with your pre-schoolers?
Take a look at these selections. They’re perfect for story time or bedtime!


Hair Love
By Matthew Cherry

When Daddy steps in to style Zuri’s hair for an extra-special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he loves Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her and her hair happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.

Book | eBook

Hey Black Child
By Useni Eugene Perkins

Six-time Coretta Scott King Award-winner and four-time Caldecott Honor-recipient Bryan Collier brings Useni Eugene Perkins’s classic, inspirational poem to life. This book celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

Book | eBook

Parker Looks Up
By Parker Curry
and Jessica Curry

Don’t miss this moving picture book that tells the story of a young girl and her family whose visit to see Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery becomes an extraordinary moment.

Book | eBook

The King of Kindergarten
By Derrick Barnes

Starting kindergarten is a big milestone — and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm.

Book | eBook | eAudio

I Believe I Can
By Grace Byers

I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves, from actress and activist Grace Byers. The book teaches, “My presence matters in this world. I know I can do anything, if only I believe I can.”

Book | eAudio


Bedtime Bonnet
By Nancy Redd

Book | eBook

Don’t Touch My Hair
By Sharee Miller

Book | eBook

Going Down Home with Daddy
By Kelly Starling Lyons

Book | eAudio
I Am Enough
By Grace Byers

Book | eAudio

I Walk with Vanessa
By Kerascoët

Book | eBook

In Plain Sight
By Richard Jackson

Book | eBook

Last Stop on Market Street
By Matt De La Peña

Book | eBook
Saturday
By Oge Mora

Book | eBook
Sulwe
By Lupita Nyong’o

Book | eBook
Thank You, Omu
By Oge Mora

Book | eBook

Looking for more diverse books? Check out the Pratt’s collection of Diverse Reading Recommendations for our Youngest Readers.