This is a We Are Here Lit recommendation. We often hear people talking about Black Joy, but we never have a lot of discussions about what that entails for our kids, ourselves, and in classrooms. ‘We Are Not Broken’ by George Johnson is an example of a book defining Black boy joy and Black love.
The story centers around the author’s family paying particular attention to his grandmother, Nanny, brother Garrett, cousins Rall, and Rasul. Johnson shares the ordinary, relatable precious moments in life that we often time overlook and take for granted and is our Black Joy
The book features family anecdotes that we all can connect with because they are all the fun, mischievous, mundane, and serious moments you deal with from family. The learning moments and the wisdom, resilience, and appreciation of the family matriarch Nanny remind you of home.
In addition to the vibrant storytelling, there are special features within this book that add to the humor and history of Black culture. For example, Johnson includes Nanny-isms which are oftentimes Southern or regional ‘Black Proverbs.’ The Nanny-isms provide the themes for the chapters, and some of them are simply hilarious.
The most endearing moments of the book are the letters from the four cousins to their Nanny. They're so heartfelt.
Also includes images in s family album layout that add another layer of home to this book.
Johnson discusses the tough topics that all families have to deal with drugs the streets identity in this case Johnson's queer identity and finding love where it is.
One of the things we particularly enjoyed about reading this book was the moments where our identities have us navigating the challenging moments in life. Johnson brilliantly helps us counter the narrative to see and appreciate moments of Black joy and love from endurance because, as the title says We Are Not Broken.
If you need an example of Black of joy and love this is it.
This book is from middle and high school students, especially for school and library book clubs.
That’s the problem with Norris Kaplan, the main character in the ‘Field Guide to The North American Teenager’.
Norris, a Black French-speaking Haitian Canadian, moves with his Mom to Austin, Texas where she has accepted a position as faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. With brutal quips, he journals his angst in a notebook, as a field guide, detailing scathing, sarcastic narratives of the typical high school Southern cliques.
Not only is he dealing with his immigrant status at his new school, but he is also harboring unattended feelings regarding his parent’s divorce and feeling cast aside as his dad remarries and starts a new family.
This all inevitably leads to Norris looking within for an honest look at learning to cope with change.
With the feel of many teen movie dramas, author Ben Philippe, does an amazing job centering the rarely seen, young Black male learning to deal with the typical growing pains of being a teenager. The character development of Norris Kaplan is very relatable to those attending suburban schools and navigating where they fit into life, much less high school.
We Are Here Lit! & R.E.A.D. Books with Joziah!
We are featured on an episode of the most excellent podcast, R.E.A.D. with Joziah (@readbookswithjoziah)
Join us as we discuss Jason Reynolds's book Ghost (1) (Track), and also hear Joziah share some fun facts and more!
If you have a young person who likes to read, have them listen to R.E.A.D. Books with Joziah on your favorite podcast platform.
It is of the highest honor to have been chosen to participate in this podcast. We Are Here Lit's mission is to uplift youth, centering Black male voices as our mission, goal, and core value
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglas
I finally got a chance to read this book. The cover had me intrigued for a while. Jake Livingston is one of the few Black teens at St. Claire Prep, Not only does he have to deal with that, he also sees dead people. The ghost world and Jake's world collide as an violent teen ghost named Sawyer attempts to possess Jake and commit atrocities again.
Jake, a closeted gay teen, also has to deal with the social difficulties of life as a minoritized adolescent in majority spaces.
The novel is descriptive and very well written. If you like scary, horror-filled stories with layered social commentary, add this to your list. Douglass is a dope writer!. Can't wait to read more.
One of the best-uncovered historical events we’ve come across is the intriguing life of Yasuke, the Black Samurai. Jesuit historical resources mention Yasuke. Today we want to share two books giving context to an African in Japan during the 16th century.
Turner, Jamal, and Lista, César R., illustrator. Yasuke : the Legend of the African Samurai. United States]: Griotscape Press, 2020. Print.
The age range for this graphic novel is from about 3rd through 6th grade
Imhotep. The Black Samurai : the Story of Yasuke. Place of publication not identified]: Mr. Imhotep, 2021. Print.
This title is an upper elementary through high school level book.
Use the following book to compare with the Netflix series to learn more about this historical figure.
Check out the following books at your local library or independent Black bookstores, links to both in the bio.
Dr. Guy Sims, Philly native, co-creator of the critically acclaimed Brotherman comics books takes time to share his story with us! He is a frequent collaborator with his brother, illustrator Dawud Anyabwile. He adapted Walter Dean Myers' book Monster into a graphic novel which Mr. Anyabwile illustrated.
Dr. Sims discusses, the role literacy played in his life, writing, the story behind Brotherman comics, retelling Monster for a new generation, and much more.
In his memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers), Trevor shared his experiences growing up as a biracial child during Aparthied in South Africa.
Readers will gains better understanding of what it was like to live under racial segregation in another country outside of the United States.
Noah shares his adventurous, mischievous, complicated, journey as he witnesses gender roles, colorism and the system of racism as it existed in South Africa.
You will also experience Trevor's resilience, his intelligence and incredible love for his Mother. This book fits the literary 'windows' and 'sliding glass door ' references.
There are some difficult themes, like domestic violence within this book. The reading range is from Middle-grade to High school.
As we celebrate International Education Week, we hope these titles inspires addition learning about the culture, histories, and stories from Africa.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans, who are people who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
We Are Here Lit! highlights books with Black men who have served in the military in United States history.
Also listed are several ways kids can thank a Veteran:
1. Say ‘Thanks for your service.”
2. Pray for veterans
3. Make a care package for the troops.
4. Deliver a homemade gift to a veteran.
5. Attend a parade.
6. Spend time with a Veteran.
WE ARE HERE will provide you book reviews, discussions, news, and programming about literature and literacy by and about Black males. This site will also feature vlog conversations on topics related to the promoting literacy and voice for Black boys and young men.