Shaping the Future

I’m working on a project that I’d like your assistance on. If you were to put together a list of recommended reading for today’s youth, what would you recommend? This list does not have to be limited by race or sex. Here is what I have so far:

Middle/High School Age:

Native Son, Richard Wright
The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Dubois
In The Mecca, Gwendolyn Brooks
1984, George Orwell
Kiss the Girls, James Patterson
The Prince, Machiavelli
A Lesson before Dying, Ernest Gaines
Roots, Alex Haley
Raising Fences, Michael Datcher
Makes Me Wanna Holler, Nathan McCall
Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, Sanyika Shakur

Elementary Age:

Magic Tree House Series, Mary Pope Osborne
Zach’s Lie and Zach’s Run, Roland Smith
Falling Up and A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein

What can you add that will help enrich a child’s life?

About the host:
Rich Fitzgerald is the author of the short story "One to Remember" featured in Love and Redemption (Bloggers' Delight Vol. 1), a collection of short stories by authors who blog. To read excerpts or to order a copy of the title, visit i-Lit. The book is also available on Amazon.


Mental Vagabond said...

Secret Life of Bee's
Grapes of Wrath
Not Without My Daughter
TO KIll A Mockingbird
Works by Shakespeare
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women.

Avi. Nothing But the Truth

Blume, Judy. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Tony Morrison, The Bluest eye

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

Tony OH said...

Hey Rich,

Check out Letters to a young Brother by " Hill Harper" this is a must read for all teenage brothers. No Joke....All Dads too

The Diva's Thoughts said...

I was just going to mention The Judy Blume's book (A MUST read for middle school girls) and The Hill Harper book is a DEFINITE for young men.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to think a minute and get back.

Your short story made gave me the biggest lump in my throat - what a beautiful/sad love story - amazing!

CapCity said...

Authors to check out - ANY of their books are good to me:
Mildred Taylor (more appealing to girls), Langston Hughes, Fred & Patricia McKissack (who are in STL i just learned!), Lucille Clifton, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe & Eloise Greenfield. Of course, that's just a few (while the reading level may be too difficult for the young - reading TO them makes these all accessible - in my humble opinion - though Poe may be too scary for the very young)!

Rich said...

@jali -- I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm in "the lab" right now cooking up another story. I think I learned a thing or two this last go around and I can't wait to see the response of readers.

Shai said...

I am all for around reading. However, why always the classics. Some of them I could not relate to as a kid and still as an adult, I cannot get with some classics.

I had problems finding my child books to read. Now there are an array of books for young black kids, some good some bad.

Let's see:

-Sharon Draper books
-Stephanie Moore Perry books
-Dana Davidson(a Detroit sista and teacher
-Sharon Flake

These are mainly for ages 12 and up. If you do a seach an, they will give other recommened books in the teen genre.

Rich said...

@shai - I can definitely relate to that, which is why I'm asking for help. There are a lot of good new writers on the market, but unless you run into them, you don't know about them.

Thanks for the suggestions. Which reminded me, I forgot to add:

Earl Sewel -- Sheletha recommended him and he has a new book out for teens.

The Jaded NYer said...

I personally don't care for the Russians (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vladimir Nabokov, Aleksandr Pushkin) but everyone should at least be exposed to their works.

Some Dickens would be good, too (Great Expectations is my favorite), some Shakespeare, and then of course I'd highly recommend some Garcia-Marquez... magical realism really keeps a kid's interest.

for older girls- some Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri and my beloved Julia Alvarez

all kids should read Bridge to Terabithia- SUCH a good book!

that's all I can think of off the top of my head

Shai said...

Earl is cool I met him at a conference last year. He is really close with his daughter.

Rich, I have to say be careful there are some urban teen books as bad as the adults. It sickens me how the niche opened up for black teen books then crap sneaks in.

There are a new Christian teen author Britney Holmes. I met her last year and she is only 18 and my daughter read her book.

Shai said...

Sorry the author's name is Brittney Holmes.

CapCity said...

Why the classics? Now, not EVERY classic is well written - but u GOTTA respect the elders, those who laid the ground work withOUT the ease of technology;-). Learn from them: good, bad & otherwise. A GOOD parent's job is NOT an easy one cuz I think parents need to preview everything their kids digest, personally. But then - I was raised by a Daddy who DID that for me & my siblings: he was VERY protective of what HE allowed into our craniums - hence we DID NOT go see Jaws (he was not going to have us afraid of going to beaches because of a stupid movie) and he walked out of Blues Brothers - told us we could stay - but he refused to allow the ridicule/jokes into his consciousness (of course, my teen sisters & I left, too after a bit of hesitation;-).

So, Rich - does that explain why I refuse to see Color Purple (i READ it & KNOW the story - don't need the visuals on top) - no matter how Popular/Award winning it is? ;-) We gotta make some decisions for ourselves regardless of what the mainstream/our friends think & encourage.

Shai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mizrepresent said...

Walter Mosely has a teen book called "52" and i think i coming out with a teen series.

Rich said...

@shai, I think you are taking that too personally. Everybody has different parenting styles. Too many distractions to watch everything my kids do, but if I roll up on it and it's foul, out it goes.

As far as the books go for this list I'm putting together, Some of the less known writers will be read to make sure their message is consistant.

Shai said...

Rich, I misread the comment and that is why I deleted my comment. So I don't need the correcting.

Rich said...

So I don't need the correcting.

Just looking to diffuse a situation before one started, no offense meant.

Shai said...

I meant no offense either. LOL. I was wondering though, you posted WAY after I deleted it.

Rich said...

Probably because I read your comment in my email folder. I didn't even look here to see if it was up or not.

KIKI said...

Well...the authors I was going to mention have already been said...

I dont think you can go wrong with any Judy Blume, Langston Hughes, Louisa May Alcott, or Harper Lee novels as far as the middle/high schoolers go. I'll have to think on the elementary reading.

And I have to say that I enjoy the classics...mainly because they're NOT easy to understand...they make you think. I think that's one of the problems with our youths today; everythng's made too easy for them. The one thing I love about alot of the clasic stuff is that there is no one clear message; everyone gets something different out of it or you maybe learn a different perspective than what you originally got from reading it.

Dave J. said...

Fences: August Wilson.

Don said...

Native Son, The Souls of Black Folk, 1984, Roots, and Makes Me Wanna Holler are some excellent reads. That is quite a selection, Rich. I had to copy and paste the entire list so I can put 'em on my To Read list. Good stuff.

I don't know too many. But here are the few I've read and would recommend:

Member of The Wedding (a great novel about teen isolation and logning)
Hoop Dreams
Why Black People Tend To Shout
A Raisin In The Sun
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Life Greatest Lessons

Don said...

@ capcity: The Color Purple was a good book with a great message told. Although it was scary how black men were portrayed.

Shai said...

Don, why do so many men have issues with how men were portrayed in the movie? I mean the story was written about how a woman overcame a man who mistreated her. Hell, that happened alot back in the day. Why truth make some cringe?

Don said...

@ shai:

It was a great storyline. I like the way she wrote it. The greater the suffering, thou holier the joy. I see why she won a Pulitizer. Honestly, all of Alice Walker's novel portray black men in negative lights.

I'm all for a good storyline, but I just feel like there could have been more substance shown instead of the stereotypical "woman sit down and shut your mouth" impression. Especially since there really wasn't anything out there to lessen that blow.

The book Beloved was similar in style, yet it didn't portray every single black man in an uncomfortable light.

So why did The Color Purple have to? Both books were truths.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

The choice by Sam Yette
Spook who sa by the Door - sam greenlee
civilization or barbarism _ chekih anta diop
Letter to birmingham jail - MLK

and last but not least

Dirt behind my ears Torrance Stephens

CapCity said...

I agree, Don!

I, too appreciate a well written story. I just get frustrated that most of the "popular" novels portray our PAINFUL sides, when there's so much BEAUTY in our survival. I choose not to see the play/movies of abusive male/female relationships because personally, i have enough images in my head of dysfunctional Black relationships - whether male/female antagonizers. Yea, I'm creating my OWN "perfect world" in my head, b'cuz the only way that I know to break the patterns that have been etched for CENTURIES in our minds/lives is to create/seek NEW patterns & images instead of replaying the OLD ones over & over.

I just started a MUST-READ for EVERY BLACK person from High School on UP: Terrie Williams', Black Pain (it just looks like we're not hurting).

Ms. Bev Jenkins has a couple of teen novels that girls LOVE! Also, I learned about this INCREDIBLE book in her list of resources (Bev Jenkins' list of resources at the back of each novel is an added bonus!): Forbidden Fruit: Love stories from the underground railroad, Betty Deramus

Yea, Rich - this is a great list/idea!

Don said...

@ rich:

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley

The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Race Matters, Cornel West

Don said...

@ capcity:

Just from first glance, I'd say those underground railroad love stories sound very interesting. I've never heard of this book nor Black Pain, so I'm pretty sure there are others who will also be happy to discover your list and rich's list.

I just get frustrated that most of the "popular" novels portray our PAINFUL sides, when there's so much BEAUTY in our survival.

I agree. I can understand some novel have to be written so one-sided. Not all. I think the more people find the beauty in movies such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Outsiders, they too will see how, as you say, the beauty born out of survival.

Sheletha said...

ironicly mine are a book of poems...

Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein

Ego-Trippin and other poems for young people...nikki giovanni

Anonymous said...

Seems like you have a pretty good list here, Rich.

I need to read some of them for myself.

Have you read the Willie Lynch Letter? If so, what did you think?

Rich said...

@ jaded nyer -- impressive additions. I've never checked out the Russians, but I may now that you recommended them.

@jewells -- I read the Willie Lynch letter years ago. If it isn't truly an old letter, it was a very creative way for explaining the polarization that exists within our culture.

@everybody - you all never fail to come through. Great list. Any RECENT writers you would suggest?

By the way, I was going to mention "Loving Penny" by our blogging buddy Diane Dorce' (Mizrepresent) but it's out of print.

The Jaded NYer said...

recent authors...hmmm... a lot of what I read isn't suitable for kids, and even my kids read stuff that is beyond their years.

BUT, I do have to make a push for fellow Dominican Junot Diaz- he's a great writer and his new novel just won a Critic's Circle award. I read it and it's WONDERFUL!

Also, maybe you can recommend that kids read some literary journals instead- there is a wealth of talented writers who get published in lit journals who don't have a book per se. If you want I can send you a list of good journals to check out.

N. Steven said...

parable of the sower, by octavia butler. (middle school-high school)

the eyes of kid midas, by neal shusterman (elementary-middle school)

allienicole said...

get some baldwin in there!!

"Giovanni's Room"...if they are mature enough...perhaps "Go Tell it on the Mountain"

and some black feminist theory aka TRUTH?? lol

"From margin to Center" by bell hooks