Janet Sumner Johnson
About Author Visits Blog Books Events Contact Book Extras

black authors

Reading Our World


06, 2020 |

Filed in:


Big apology for missing posts. Between COVID-19 and the deaths of so many of my black brothers and sisters, my mind has been full. I’ve been wrestling with myself and working on how to be a better ally to the black community.

I’ve learned a lot by listening to my friends, and by reading books by black authors. So that’s where I want to start, because education is always the first step. We can’t empathize with others if we don’t listen and understand their plight. Today I’m sharing three books by black authors that I love and recommend.

Midnight Without a Moon - Kindle edition by Jackson, Linda ...First up is Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson. This book was fascinating to help me really understand the plight of blacks living in the south during the 50’s. Here is the Amazon description:

It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.

Then, one town over, an African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change . . . and that she should be part of the movement. Linda Jackson’s moving debut seamlessly blends a fictional portrait of an African American family and factual events from a famous trial that provoked change in race relations in the United States.

Sulwe by [Lupita Nyong'o, Vashti Harrison]Next is Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. I loved this book about learning to love yourself exactly as you were made. It’s such a universal message, but it means even more in the context of the racial struggles in the U.S. Here is the Amazon description:

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

Cover ImageFinally, I want to share The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, and illustrated by Hatem Aly. A year or so ago, I read Ibtihaj’s book, Proud, about her journey to becoming the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to represent the U.S. at the Olympics. If you recall, she went on to win the bronze medal in the team sabre event. I really enjoyed her story, and loved how she talked about what wearing a hijab means to her in this picture book. It was beautiful, and a reminder to me to seek to understand first. Here is the Amazon description:

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

 I hope you check out these books and love them as much as I did. Wishing you all love and safety in these uncertain times. Please share books that you’ve loved that help us understand experiences that are not our own. I’d love to read them! 

Speak up:



, , , , , , , ,