Hey y’all! So I don’t know about y’all but I love books that talk about history or is historical because, no surprise here, I’m quite the nerd! I’m not picky about what type of history it is as long as I learn something or have a knowledge refresh along the way! There are also bonus points if the history lessons are woven into the story line.
So I was thinking of some middle grade and young adult books that spoke to the history nerd that lives within me for different reasons. Of course, wanted to share those books with you as well as what spoke to me! All of these would be great books to add to Social Studies curriculums… just putting that out there!
Let’s get into this list!
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown-This book was my introduction into middle grade horror and I will say it got me pretty good at times. I’m a person who loves to read at night and I was very unsure of whether or not I could read it and not feel nervous about how my dreams would be once I laid my head down (I was totally fine, btw). I learned quite a bit about abandoned Black cemeteries reading this book & it was really interesting that there was a news story here in New York around the time that I was reading it about a Black cemetery that ended up being built over (the disrespect). I also loved the bits of Black superstitions that were mentioned as well.
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee-One of the biggest things that spoke to me about this book is the relationship between Maizy and her grandpa. As you all know from my post dedicated to my own, My grandpa was very much a storyteller and so was Maizy’s. Maizy’s grandpa baits her by teasing at their ancestor’s history by telling her in pieces. It illustrates Chinese immigration in the 1800s going into the early 1900s and the experiences of this fictional ancestor. While I knew a bit of the history of Chinese immigration & that of Chinese restaurants in the US (I know a little bit about a lot y’all), it was nice to see it through a different lens…it’s definitely not taught enough in schools (hello erasure of POC history in education).
The Only Black Girls In Town by Brandy Colbert-Disclaimer here, I’m a Brandy Colbert Stan. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I love how the history in this story is wrapped in a mystery of sorts (I love turning into detective while reading a book). Alberta learns about the history of her house and the town she’s lived in her whole life through some journals she & her friend discover. This book is a great way to introduce the concept of “passing” to students learning about American history and how it was a means of survival to those passing living in openly racist and segregated parts of America (we not gon’ sit here and pretend like that’s not still a thing here…not today or any other day on this here blog).
Black Was The Ink by Michelle Coles-What I loved about this book is that it was that it was a contemporary book with the fantastical element of time travel. Malcolm not only got to learn about his ancestor but also how he came to acquire their family land and about the Reconstruction Era. I had learned a bit about the Reconstruction era way back when but this book served as a refresher with a much more interesting presentation than any textbook would ever provide AND in a way that shows just how prosperous Black people were (and could be) by working together. This book is one that I think any teen who is reluctant to learn about history could lean into.
So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow-I’m going to acknowledge that this book is a remix of Little Women but I’m also going to say that I never read Little Women *shrug*. While I am familiar with the history of Freed People’s colonies, I did not know much about the Roanoke colony. There was something distinctly different to read a book that took place in one and spoke of the histories that felt like a first person account (this is book is multiple perspective, just an FYI). It was also amazing to read a book filled with Black Joy rather than Black Trauma at the end of the era of chattel slavery (had to be specific there). I honestly want Bethany to do a story based in Seneca Village (where Central Park now is…my mind is still blown over that history).
Angel Of Greenwood by Randi Pink-Another history that I knew about and still feel sick over is the Tulsa Massacre. What is different about this book is that it began a few days before the massacre takes place. You get to see this thriving Black community known as the “Black Wall Street” from two perspectives that also have different ideologies. Angel believed in the teachings of Booker T. Washington (though she was pretty open-minded) while Isaiah heavily believed in those of W.E.B Du Bois (he wasn’t so open-minded). There is a lot of joy and hope in this story even though we know that there will be tragedy. We all know that no place is perfect but reading a thriving Black community gave me hope and a longing for us to get back to that.
There are other books that have spoken to the History nerd in me, like in this post about important middle grades. There are quite few that are coming out or recently came out that I plan on talking about in the future in other posts, these are great books to roll with doe. I also have but so much energy to sit in front of my laptop as well (Just keeping it real with y’all)!
Are there any books that spoke to your inner nerd? Do you love books that speak nerdy to you too? Let me know in the comments or on the social medias! As per usual, You can find & follow me out on these e-streets on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also please subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I read a bunch of books that spoke nerdy to me! As always, I’m sending y’all bookish love and wishing you happy reading! Byeeeeee!