by Maggie Block
At the beginning of Governor Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, the King County Library System (KCLS) and the South Seattle Emerald teamed up to offer digital book recommendations to help readers get through the pandemic shutdown. While there may be more opportunities to get out and about now, many of us continue to spend time at home and could still use some great reading material to consume during the reopening process.
All you need is a KCLS library card to access our digital collections. If you don’t have one, residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the city of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a digital eCard. Enter your library card and PIN number to search for titles in BookFlix and hoopla. And the Libby app makes it especially easy to download digital titles through OverDrive. Contact Ask KCLS if you need assistance with your account or to get help finding and downloading titles. KCLS has also started offering Curbside to Go at select locations starting July 1.
For this issue, we’ll focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. This batch of recommendations is intended to aid our ongoing national conversation about racism. Many KCLS titles about antiracism have long wait lists right now, so we’ll highlight some great options that are available for immediate check out.
Kids (ages 3 to 7): Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson — Available on BookFlix
Woodson celebrates the women in her family and their beautiful legacies. Her ancestors were born into slavery and made coded quilts to help slaves escape through the underground railroad,and her mother and aunt marched for civil rights as little girls. Woodson’s book is a wonderful jumping-off point to talk to young kids about how the struggle continues today. For more recommendations worth the wait, check out KCLS’ Books to Support Conversations About Race, Racism and Resistance book list.
Kids and Tweens (ages 8 to 13): New Kid by Jerry Craft — Available on hoopla
New Kid is a fantastic graphic novel about a Black kid named Jordan who goes to a very prestigious private school. Jordan rides the bus from his inner-city neighborhood to an affluent suburb, where he is one of three Black students in his grade. Navigating a new school is hard enough, but learning how to deal with students who make ignorant comments and teachers who have harsher punishments for Black students creates painful challenges that Jordan and his new friends must figure out how to overcome together. Craft is an excellent storyteller; New Kid manages to be as funny as the similar middle-school series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, while being strong enough to tackle important issues.
Teens (ages 14 to 17): March Series by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin — Available on hoopla
Cowritten by John Lewis, current congressman and former civil rights leader, and Andrew Aydin, Lewis’ digital director and policy advisor, March gives readers an inside look at how the civil rights movement formed and grew to be a force that would change the world. The story highlights many unsung heroes of Black liberation struggles in the 1960s, such as Diane Nash, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. This is an important read for young people because it highlights the hard work, from people with many different kinds of skill sets, that goes into a movement.
For more recommendations worth the wait, check out KCLS’ Black Lives Matter book list.
Adult (ages 18 and older): Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates — Available on hoopla
Coates is a well-known author and journalist, and he brings his excellent prose and politics to comics in this Black Panther run. T’Challa is faced with a violent uprising in Wakanda and must bring his people together in unity against a terrorist group. Be warned, Coates sets up a lot of exposition in Volume 1, so it can move a little slowly, but if you stick with it, the story that unfolds from that front-end work is excellent.
For more recommendations worth the wait, check out KCLS’ Racism in America book list.
Public libraries have a long history of being agents of social change. We will continue to work with our communities and be there for residents in times of hardship and struggle. I hope I can continue to do the work to walk with you on the long road towards racial justice.
Maggie Block is the teen services librarian at KCLS’ Skyway Library. When Maggie is not collaborating with community members to create meaningful programming for Skyway’s tweens and teens, she can be found reading graphic novels; listening to audio books; watching as many movies as she can fit into her week; and cooking batch meals. She lives with her partner of five years, two cats, and one dog, and is currently trying to see if she can turn seeds into vegetables in her front yard (wish her luck).