Monday, January 17, 2011

Great Books For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. today, we look to the newly released 2011 Coretta Scott King Book Awards, which honor fantastic African-American authors. One of our favorite writers, Walter Dean Myers, made this year's honor list with:


It seems like the only progress you make at Progress juvenile facility is moving from juvy jail to real jail. Sure, Reese wants out early. But is he supposed to just sit back and let his friend Toon get jumped? Reese gets a second chance when he's picked for the work program at a senior citizens' home. He doesn't mean to keep messing up, but it's not so easy -- at Progress or in life. One of the residents, Mr. Hooft, gives him a particularly hard time. If Reese can convince Mr. Hooft that he's a decent person, not a criminal, maybe he'll be able to convince himself, too.

Walter Dean Myers books often portray urban teenagers struggling with real life -- especially drug use, violence, and peer pressure. They're trying to find ways out of the problems they were born into. From his own real life, Myers understands what his characters are going through. He was raised in Harlem by foster parents and dropped out of high school. He also had a severe speech impediment -- so, he began to write as a way to express himself. Try it yourself. Writing is a great way to vent, to celebrate, or to just work through complicated stuff in your life.

We wouldn't even know where to start telling you about all of  Myers' other great books. For starters, check out these:

The Cruisers

 Fallen Angels

Street Love

Now, for all you graphic novel fans....

Yummy: The Last Days
of a Southside Shorty
Check out another Coretta Scott King honor book, Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri and and Randy Duburke. In this book, 11-year-old Roger is trying to make sense of his classmate Robert "Yummy" Sandifer's death. But first he has to make sense of Yummy's life.

Was Yummy a monster who'd just killed a little girl? Or, was he just another kid? As Roger digs, he finds more questions. Did Yummy really kill someone? And why do so many answers lead to the gang Roger's older brother belongs to?

This gritty depiction, based on a real murder in Chicago, might make you question your ideas about good and bad, right and wrong.

Remember to click on book titles to reserve them at your favorite library branch.

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