Reading Women Recommends Books That Center Black Joy
Featuring Leah Johnson, Alecia McKenzie, and Lupita Nyong'o
In this week’s episode, Kendra and Sachi are joined by Caribbean Bookstagrammer Cindy (@BookofCinz) to talk about books that feature Black joy.
Leah Johnson, You Should See Me in a Crown
Sachi: This book gave me all the feels at the end. If you’re looking to dive into something that will make you feel a little bit better about the world that we’re living in, this is 100 percent a great book to pick up.
Talia Hibbert, Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Kendra: A lot of times, the heroines of a book, they’re perfect, right? And love hasn’t worked out for them because of the trash men in their life. But really, Dani was the trash person in her past relationship, and she has to work on herself. I think that’s a really important thing to talk about: maybe your past relationships didn’t work out because you were the—I can’t say that and lose our expletive rating—but maybe you were not the greatest person in the relationship.
Alecia McKenzie, A Million Aunties
Cindy: I think it’s great when we see grief being explored, but it’s not explored in a traumatic way. Yes, grief will happen, but how do you find community that helps you get through it? That’s something that I felt Alecia did such a great job of. There is love. There are all the women who are doing good things. I feel like a lot of times with literary books, it’s always about young people, the younger generation—we don’t hear about the fifties, sixties-plus aunties who are still out there changing lives and doing good things.
Bolu Babalola, Love in Color
Cindy: It’s not every day that you pick up a collection of stories that is about Black love and Black joy, every single one. If you are a romantic at heart, you will love it. I feel like it’s one of those books that you have to savor.
Portia Dery, illustrated by Toby Newsome, Grandma’s List
Sachi: If you’re thinking what lessons can be learned from this book—as most picture books are centered around different lessons that children can learn—this is focused on self-perception, recognizing your own strengths, self-confidence, and even empathy.
Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Kendra: I’d never really read a picture book that tackles colorism like this. The story is of a little girl who feel sad that she doesn’t have lighter skin like the other members of her family. And her mom sits her down and tells her this story about how both light skin and dark skin are important, and that she should take joy in her own body and in herself and the way that she is made. Just teaching a young girl to take joy in who she is is such an incredibly important concept, particularly for young Black girls who are just growing up in this world and they don’t entirely understand it yet. And the illustrations are phenomenal.
This episode is brought to you by Chanel. A visionary woman who’s influence on the arts continues even today, Gabrielle Chanel created her life and her legend on her own terms. Discover her story at InsideChanel.com.
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