National Reading Month is in full swing! The annual month-long celebration takes place every March, empowering children of all ages to pick up their favorite books and read. Although it may seem small, reading is such a vital component of education and professional development for kids and teens, especially with the growing literacy crisis impacting students across America. According to the Reading Is Fundamental organization nearly “Twenty-five million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently,” with 34 percent of kindergartners lacking the resources needed to learn how to read. In 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that nearly 34 percent of fourth-grade students were ” below basic reading level.” Unfortunately, these disparities can follow children as they progress to high school or even college if not addressed.
The data can feel disparaging, but we need to continue to cultivate and teach our children the power of reading despite the glaring obstacle, and the process can be fun too. Try to find what sparks your child’s interest, whether they like diving into a fun fantasy book or exploring outer space with an intergalactic sci-fi novel. There’s so much to uncover about the world when opening up a book, and some, give children and teens a window into other parts of the world, or a chance to learn about different cultures and ways of life. Others pieces of literature might even allow children and young adults to see a bit of themselves too. In honor of National Reading Month, here are five books you and your kids should be reading this month, and these books just so happen to be written by Black authors too!
Keep Your Head Up
Earlier this week, Senator Corey Booker kicked off the start of National Reading Month by reading Aliya King Neil’s powerful children’s book “Keep Your Head Up.” The award-winning journalist’s book teaches little ones that it’s okay to have a bad day and gives a sweet reminder that even on the worst days, it’s important to keep your head up and be kind to yourself.
Tales of the Astonishing Black Spark
Charlie J. Eskew collides the fantasy of sci-fi with the critical issues impacting the world today in this action-packed superhero comic. Freshly fired from his terrible job, and watching the girl of his dreams move on to pursue her goals in another big city, Donald McDougal is at a pivotal crossroad in his life. Things quickly change for the young Ohio native when a lightning strike gives him superhuman powers. McDougal gains a wealth of confidence with his new ability but his superhero fame might come at a price, that he may or may not be able to afford. The story raises questions about race and privilege along with the challenges of navigating life as a Black male.
Michelle Obama walks readers through her inspiring career journey from becoming a top attorney to the first African American First Lady. The Chicago native shares stories from her humble beginnings growing up in the Windy City and how all her core values gave her the strength and grit to create change in the highest office in the land. Mrs. Obama has made an adapted version of the book for young readers too!
All Boys Aren’t Blue
George M. Johnson’s bestselling young-adult memoir “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” weaves together a series of essays from queer Black men about the challenges of growing up throughout adulthood.
Stacey’s Extraordinary Words
Back in December, politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams published her first children’s book called “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words.” The touching story follows Stacey as she muscles up the courage to participate in a spelling bee. The young student grapples with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness as she prepares for the big competition, but Stacey’s confidence plummets after she realizes a classroom bully named Jake might be her opponent. Stacey faces her fears despite the feeling of opposition. This book is catered to children ages 4 to 8.