Move over Valentine’s day, there’s a new holiday on February 14th! As of 2021, February 14 has been named “National Black Literacy Day”. Semicolon Bookstore, a Black-owned bookstore based in Chicago, created this new holiday to honor and bring attention to literacy and the power of reading in education, especially amongst Black authors and readers. Frederick Douglass, whose birthday is on February 14th, was part of the inspiration for this holiday. The abolitionist, activist and educator stated, “once you learn to read, you will be forever free”.
What can you do to honor the second annual National Black Literacy Day? First, you can purchase from Black-owned bookstores as well as donate to literacy-focused organizations. You can find your local Black-owned bookstore here.
A great way to continue supporting and uplifting Black voices is by (you guessed it) reading Black! Not only should you read books written by Black authors on National Black Literacy Day and throughout Black History Month in February, you should continue adding BIPOC authors to your queue of books. By continually diversifying your authors, you’ll be able to learn about intersectional perspectives from various backgrounds as well as uplift the voices of historically marginalized communities.
Here are 5 books that you can read this month to honor National Black Literacy Day on February 14th, as well as the Black authors that we should always be reading:
If you want a romance novel with a twist…
The Hookup Dilemma by Constance Gillam
Gillam writes about Rashida and Elliot – a fun and flirty one-night stand that turns out to be an unexpected love story. What Rashida and Elliot don’t realize is that they are both fighting on the opposite sides of a legal battle. Rashida is fighting to save her grandmother’s Atlanta neighborhood from being turned into a gentrified supermall and Elliot’s father is the one building it. Can Rashida and Elliot find a way to be with each other while their families pull them in different directions? The Hookup Dilemma is the perfect book to grab this Valentine’s Day for a classic romance as well as to honor Black Literacy Day.
If you want inspiration…
Becoming by Michelle Obama
How did a lawyer from the South Side Chicago become this nation’s first Black First Lady? Michelle Obama recaps her life story and journey to the White House in this inspirational read, Becoming. From working hard as a successful lawyer in Chicago to implementing initiatives that help children lead healthy lives in Washington DC, Michelle has always stood out as a leader with an agenda to make the world a better place. If you want to see how Michelle made history alongside her husband, check out Becoming.
If you want a feminist manifesto…
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Roxane, MY QUEEN! Bad Feminist is the type of book that will make you question everything about feminism, society, gender roles and what it means to be a woman. This collection of short stories discusses politics, social commentary, personal anecdotes and insights from Gay about what it means to be a feminist and how that might not line up with the “traditional” definition of feminism. These stories will have you laughing, crying, confused, excited and keep you hooked until the last page.
If you want a thriller…
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Imagine you picked up the phone one day and heard the words from your sister: “I killed someone…again”. My Sister, The Serial Killer follows the story of Nigerian sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Despite all her best efforts, Ayoola keeps killing her boyfriends and Korede has been there each time to clean up the mess. When Ayoola begins dating one of Korede’s coworkers, a doctor she’s secretly in love with, Korede becomes conflicted. How can Korede protect both her sister and the love of her life? This thrilling story will keep you at the edge of your seat. If you thought that you had it bad this Valentine’s Day…maybe talk to Korede first.
If you want a modern classic…
Beloved by Toni Morrison
A Pulitzer-prize winner and New York Times Bestseller, Beloved by Toni Morrison is considered a modern classic by its readers and critics. The book follows the story of Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman, who escapes and now lives with her 18-year-old daughter, Denver. However, Sethe and Denver might not be entirely alone – the family believes that there is a ghost in their home, the spirit of her unnamed baby sister, whose tombstone read “Beloved” when she passed. Unfortunately for their family, it doesn’t seem like Beloved is a benevolent ghost. How does a family cope with the trauma of slavery, losing a child and moving forward through grief? Find out in this modern classic.
Read and buy Black on this upcoming Black Literacy Day. Whether it’s one of these books or another favorite by a Black author, find a way that feels truest to you to support this cause. Comment below what you decide to read this year and share your recommendations!
PSA: I will always, always recommend Becoming by Michelle Obama. Peep my bio. Meesh, if you’re ever reading this – you’re my hero.