13 books to read during Black history month and beyond

Whether you're looking for children's books, non-fiction, devotionals or poetry, we have suggestions for year-round reading.

Black voices are worth listening to 365 days of the year, not just in February. However, the celebration of Black history month may serve as a reminder to evaluate the narratives that surround us and with which we choose to engage. Whether you want to introduce new perspectives into your reading or celebrate a rich history, there are many books that center on the Black experience. It can be hard to pick just one. Below you will find some of the Outlook’s favorite books by African American authors from this past year.

Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey

“Disrupt and push back against capitalism and White supremacy. In this book, Tricia Hersey, aka The Nap Bishop, encourages us to connect to the liberating power of rest, daydreaming, and naps as a foundation for healing and justice.”

What Makes You Come Alive: A Spiritual Walk with Howard Thurman by Lerita Coleman Brown

“In What Makes You Come Alive, … Brown walks with us through Thurman’s inimitable life and commitments as he summons us into centering down, encountering the natural world, paying attention to sacred synchronicity, unleashing inner authority, and recognizing the genius of the religion of Jesus.”

Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman by Therese Taylor-Stinson

“Spiritual director Therese Taylor-Stinson calls readers to be ‘public mystics’ in her new book focusing on Harriet Tubman’s story and spirituality.”

Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman

“This is more than a poetry book; it is an experience. Gorman employs form and structure to accompany each poem’s meanings and emphases.”

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

“A memoir about three Black girls from the storied Bronzeville section of Chicago that offers a penetrating exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood, and the powerful forces at work that allow some to flourish…and others to falter.”

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson

“The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.”

If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I? by Angela N. Parker

“In If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I?, Angela Parker – a professor of New Testament and Greek – takes our hand and guides us on an unrelenting journey through dismantling Western notions of biblical authority and the construction of God’s identity as White and male.”

Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough by Candice Marie Benbow

“In Red Lip Theology, blogger and public theologian Candice Marie Benbow offers an invitation to create theologies that speak to our personal experiences of church, God, heartache and true fullness of life.”

Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit by Esau McCaulley

“When Josey wonders why people are so different, Dad helps her understand that our differences aren’t a mistake. In fact, we have many differences because God is creative!”

Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just by Claude Atcho

“Pastor and professor Atcho suggests that we learn from Black voices by reading their stories through dual lenses — theological and literary.”

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

“Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks–those that are honest about the past and those that are not–that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.”

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.

Awkward Silence: Practical Activities for White Ministry Leaders to Confront Anti-Racism by Shani McIlwain

“Shani E. McIlwain guides readers through how to effectively practice anti-racism and allyship, using your faith as a foundation. Whether your goal is as simple as wanting to listen, or if you have grander aspirations to rid the world of hate and intolerance, this book will inspire you to take that first step toward your true heart transformation.”

Presbyterian Outlook supports local bookstores. Join us! Click on the links above to purchase our suggestions from BookShop, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. As an affiliate, Outlook will also earn a commission from your purchase. 

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