The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Black Girlhood - October 2010

Booth, Coe. Kendra. Push/Scholastic, 2008. 304 p. Gr. 10–12.
Fourteen-year-old Kendra Williamson was raised by her grandmother while her mom, Renée, who got pregnant at fourteen, went to school. Shortly after her mother earns a PhD from Princeton and moves into a studio apartment in Harlem, Kendra’s complicated relationship with a boy named Nashawn creates a rift between Kendra and her strict grandmother. Kendra moves in with Renée and slowly comes to understand her mother, her family, and herself.

Campbell, Bebe Moore. I Get So Hungry; illus. by Amy Bates. Putnam, 2008. 32 p. 6-9 yrs.
An overweight young girl named Nikki who eats to make herself feel better when she is angry or sad bonds with her also-overweight teacher Mrs. Patterson. After Mrs. Patterson has a health scare, Mrs. Patterson helps Nikki develop healthier attitudes about food through their daily walks together.

Davis, Tanita S. Mare's War. Knopf, 2009. 341 p. Gr. 7-10.
Teenage sisters Octavia and Tali drive cross-country with their unpredictable grandmother Mare. Along the way, Mare tells them stories about her life, including her experiences in the 6888 th African American Battalion in World War II.

Draper, Sharon M. Fire from the Rock. Dutton, 2007. 176 p. Gr. 6-9.
Honor student Sylvia Patterson has been chosen to be one of the students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. She must confront her fears of violence and mixed signals from her friends and family, and decide whether or not she wants to step forward to the overwhelmingly white school or remain within her own supportive community.

English, Karen. Nikki & Deja; illus. by Laura Freeman. Clarion, 2008. 80 p. Gr. 3-5.
Third-graders Nikki and Deja are next-door neighbors and best friends. When manipulative Antonia moves into their neighborhood, she comes between Nikki and Deja. Ultimately, Nikki and Deja overcome their disagreements and mend their friendship.

English, Karen. Nikki & Deja: Birthday Blues; illus. by Laura Freeman. Clarion, 2009. 96 p. Gr. 2-4.
Deja is very excited about her upcoming 8 th birthday party and her best friend Nikki is helping her make plans. Unfortunately, Deja’s caretaker Auntie Dee has to go out of town the week before Deja’s party, and Deja’s enemy Antonia sends out invitations for a fancy “Just Because” party on the same day as Deja’s birthday. However, Auntie Dee returns and Deja’s party goes smoothly despite the drama leading up to it.

Forman, Ruth. Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon; illus. by Cbabi Bayoc. Children's Book Press, 2007. 24 p. 5-7 yrs.
Focusing on young black girls in South Philadelphia, this book is a free-verse poetic celebration of summertime in the city.

Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Kroupa/Farrar, 2009. 144 p. Gr. 5-10.
Based on interviews with Claudette Colvin and other research, this biography presents a teenage civil rights activist who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus before Rosa Parks’s famous action. This book also places Colvin within the broader context of the civil rights movement.

Jones, Traci L. Finding My Place. Farrar, 2010. 208 p. Gr. 6-9.
Tiphanie, the daughter of civil rights activists, is a black high school student having trouble making friends in her overwhelmingly white Denver high school in the 1970s. A poor white girl named Jackie Sue befriends Tiphanie, but Tiphanie’s parents do not approve and steer her toward a new social club. Tiphanie learns to judge the value of her friends for herself.

Latham, Irene. Leaving Gee's Bend. Putnam, 2010. 240 p. Gr. 4-6.
Ten-year-old Ludelphia Bennett and her family are sharecroppers in Gee’s Bend, a town in rural Alabama in 1932. She and her mother pass time quilting together until Mama falls ill with pneumonia. In order to get medicine for Mama, Ludelphia must leave Gee’s Bend for the first time. She faces prejudice, but ultimately returns with the lifesaving medicine.

McMullan, Margaret. Cashay. Houghton, 2009. 163 p. Gr. 7–10.
Grieving over the recent death of her sister, a young girl named Cashay must struggle to deal with an already difficult life in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood. After she joins a mentoring program that links her with a stockbroker named Allison, Cashay begins to see her life in new ways, while helping those around her to see things differently as well.

Rodowsky, Colby. That Fernhill Summer. Farrar, 2006. 169 p. Gr. 5-8.
Kiara is a thirteen-year-old girl who has, until recently, been unaware of the existence of her mother Joyce’s side of the family. When Joyce’s mother Zenobia falls ill, however, Kiara and her mother travel to Fernhill, the old family estate, and Kiara discovers that she has two cousins near her own age. She and her cousins end up staying with Zenobia at Fernhill while the adults try to sort out their problems, and begin to gradually understand their strong-willed, temperamental grandmother.

Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl. Putnam, 2009. 288 p. Gr. 7-12.
It’s World War II and Ida Mae, who has always loved to fly, sees the Women Air Force Service Pilots program as the perfect opportunity to indulge her love of flying and do her part in the war effort. Though her fair skin passes her as white and allows her entry to the program, her struggle to unlearn deeply ingrained habits while dealing with her proud but resentful family, offers the reader a profound illustration of how prejudice doesn’t always have to get in the way of following your dreams.

Stauffacher, Sue. Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson; illus. by Greg Couch. Knopf, 2007. 34 p. 6-9 yrs.
This biography tells the story of Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, starting with her childhood in Harlem. Stauffacher does not portray her as an overly-perfect sportsperson from day one, but rather, a strong-willed young girl (with a slight temper) who used her determination to overcome any obstacle in her path.

Whittenberg, Allison. Sweet Thang. Delacorte, 2006. 149 p. Gr. 4-7.
Set in Pennsylvania in the 1970s, Sweet Thang is the story of fourteen-year-old Charmaine, who resents having to babysit her cousin Tracy John, a little boy orphaned three years ago. As she gets to know him better, Charmaine begins to understand why Tracy John acts out the way he does, and comes to some conclusions about her own behavior as well, particularly her willingness to let the opinions of others control her life.

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2010. 224 p. Gr. 5–8.
In the summer of 1968, 11-year-old Delphine and her younger sisters are sent to live with their estranged mother. A difficult and combative woman, she ushers them off to spend their days with the Black Panthers at the People’s Center. It is there that Delphine witnesses and becomes part of the activist movement, learning about her family, her race, and herself in the process.

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D Foster. Putnam, 2008. 160 p. Gr. 7-10.
A 12-year-old girl and her best friend find their lives instantly changed upon meeting the titular D Foster, a new resident to their Queens, NY community. D both relates to the girls as well as shows them a life outside of their neighborhood, enabling them to constantly reflect on themselves as they tackle the challenges and realities of their surroundings.