Celebrate Black History Month With These Three Reads


Kaytaki P. , Arts and Entertainment editor

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Words cannot explain my love for this story, and the amount of knowledge I gained from this book. The Hate U Give is one of those rare stories that is fictitious but still teaches you about the world. The story follows the main character Starr Carter as she navigates the world after personal tragedy strikes. As she continues moving through life, Starr deals with racism that comes from officials like law enforcement officers, but also from some of her best friends.

Through Starr, The Hate U Give provides a moving depiction of life after devastation and gives a clear view of what racism really looks like; how it can tear apart friendships and seemingly shake the balance of the world.

Like with the later-mentioned American Street, I listened to The Hate U Give, and I found that the audiobook helped me understand the story more deeply than I could have by reading the printed copy. By having someone perform the story, I was able to understand the subtleties in the actor’s voice, and the audio version allowed me to hear what was happening in the story, instead of just skimming over the text.

But no matter what form of the book you decide to engage in, one fact remains clear; The Hate U Give is a must-read. Its intense storyline and phenomenal writing draw attention to the real truth of what living with racism truly feels like, and the emotions and events that follow the unfair death of a loved one.

If you read one book from this list, please let it be The Hate U Give. The power of the story and the understanding that you gain is worth the pages of the book or the hours of the audiobook. The profoundness of this story will last you a lifetime, and it will help you become part of the solution to eliminating racism in the world and in America.


Punching the Air, by Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five

Punching the Air, by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is an amazing book, told through the perspective of Amal Shahid. Amal’s life as a young Black artist is loosely based on Dr. Yusef Salaam’s life, as they were both unjustly accused and sentenced for crimes that they did not commit. 

This book-in-verse is a must-read because it highlights the power of art, and it illustrates how real humans feel when they are thrust into situations that they don’t deserve to be in. Punching the Air was breathtaking and sad. It provided a  raw and vulnerable view of injustice in the world, and because of that, it is not just a really good book, but an absolutely necessary read.

One of the best parts of this book was the way that it was narrated and the word choice. The story, told in verse, has word choice that is both painful and enlightening. Through the poetry that he writes, the protagonist, Amal, conveys his experiences as he lives his life in prison.

Without a doubt, Punching the Air was beautiful. It combined vivid poetry with illustrations, and overall, created a story that spotlights the power of injustice in the world, while also showing the courage that people have to keep moving forward with their lives.


American Street, By  Ibi Zoboi

Another Ibi Zoboi book! 

American Street is one of my favorite books of all time. It follows Fabiola Toussaint, an American who lived in Haiti before moving back to the US. The beginning of the story starts with Fabiola moving through an airport, waiting for her mother who has been taken away from her at Customs.

The story then moves to tell about Fabiola and her new life with her cousins and aunt, the new school that she starts attending, and the slew of mysteries that she finds herself trying to untangle. In the midst of all this, the author also tells the story of Fabiola trying to find her mother and bring her back.

Ibi Zoboi’s writing in her debut, American Street is exceptional, tying the honest heartache one would feel when a loved one is missing, and the happiness one experiences when starting over in life. The characters of Fabiola, Pri, Donna, and Kasim are so expertly written that when something happens to them, good or bad, you want to laugh, and cry, and scream for more.

As an audiobook, the narrator Robin Miles performs the entire book with the tone and character you would expect to hear from the characters if you were reading the printed version. Her knowledge of each character is spellbinding, and the performance she delivers is truly a work of art.

Full of heartbreak, mystery, and just everyday life, American Street is a literary masterpiece.