Kick off Summer Reading with Generations

We’re thrilled to introduce The Brown Bookshelf’s latest project, Generations Book Club. A summer initiative designed to inspire and empower readers of all ages, we’re excited to kick it off on June 1. Aligned with our group’s mission to raise awareness of books by Black creators, Generations also resolves to boost sales, help families nurture literacy skills and bridge the social distancing divide through the shared experience of reading.


An act of freedom, resistance and love, reading reveals the power we hold inside. By centering the work of Black authors and illustrators, we’re  showcasing books as ways to foster community and create momentum and change. Supporting children’s literature by Black creators demonstrates that not only do Black books matter, they’re in demand. We’ve partnered with Black-owned bookstore, Brain Lair Books, if you’d like to purchase any of the book club titles.


On the 1st and 15th of June, July and August, we’ll feature a themed list of books by Black creators for the youngest readers through adults and related links and resources. We’re proud to celebrate this outstanding work. Please join in the celebration by reading, writing reviews, spreading the word and sharing this post which features the specially-designed logo by co-founder Don Tate.


The complete list of book selections is below. See you back here on Monday. Let the reading begin!


June 1 – Black Music Month
PB – Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Keith Mallett
MG – Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
YA – Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert
Adult – Creative Quest by Questlove


PB – Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by AG Ford
MG – So Done by Paula Chase
YA – Not So Pure & Simple by Lamar Giles
Adult – The Cooking Gene by Mike Twitty


July 1 – Imagination, Ingenuity & Innovation
PB – Tiny Stitches by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Colin Bootman
MG – The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste
YA –  A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow


July 15 – Heritage & Legacy
PB – No Small Potatoes: Junius P. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas by Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Don Tate
YA – This is My America by Kim Johnson
Adult – Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon


August 1 – Voice & Vision
PB – Someday is Now by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, illustrated by Jade Johnson
MG – We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade & Cheryl Hudson
YA – This Side of Home by Renée Watson


August 15 – Life Lessons
PB – The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
MG – The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
YA – All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani
Adult – Teaching for Black Lives edited by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian and Wayne Au

21 thoughts on “Kick off Summer Reading with Generations

  1. This is great but are students expected to purchase all these books or will there be free ebooks or read alouds online?

    1. Thanks so much for your support and important question. Students are not expected to purchase all or any of the books. We know families have different financial resources. The pandemic has stretched even more budgets thin and limits in-person access to libraries too.

      We have partnered with a Black-owned bookstore and will provide buy links for those who would like to purchase the books. For everyone, we’ll have resources for each title. That could include discussion and activity guides, trailers, author videos/interviews, chats/Q&As on FB or Instagram and readalouds if available. My picture book, Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations, is part of our first list that focuses on Black Music Month. I’ll have a link for a free readaloud that will be public for 48 hours.

      Also, though many libraries remain closed, some have e-books that can be read from home. Some of our titles may appear there. Our mission for Generations is to raise awareness of Black children’s book creators, nurture literacy skills, foster community and show that Black books are in demand. We’re committed to sharing as many free resources as we find.

      1. FYI- many libraries nationwide are also starting curbside pick up programs and can make these titles available through contact-free borrowing. Ask your local library if they have this service. I’m adding the titles we don’t have in our library to the to-buy list and will share info. Thanks for organizing this!

        1. That’s great. Thanks so much for letting us know. Appreciate you adding titles to your library to-buy list. Together, we create change.

      2. For the activity guides, video/interviews, trailers, chats Q/A that you mention above- what is the best way for us to know about those, and find out about when they are available or scheduled for? Thanks!

        1. The resources will be shared along with the featured titles for each theme. You’ll see a new list the 1st and 15th of each month, June-August. Thanks for your support.

  2. Hi Kelly,
    This book club is such a wonderful idea. I would like to get the word out by posting flyers in a nearby housing project. Is there a flyer available on your website?

    Oh, I purchased several copies of your amazing book “Sing a Song:…” and give them family members. The story line and illustrations are phenomenal!

    1. Thanks so much for your support. A flyer is a great idea. I made a basic one you can post. I’ll send it to your email.

      Touched that you bought several copies of Sing a Song for your family members. Your thoughtfulness means a lot.

  3. Is it okay for us to promote Generations Book Club in the Little Free Library our family stewards? We have purchased @25 books, including many on this list (Thank You!) and want to use your beautifully stated language to explain the intent of the collection. Thank you for the resources here.

    1. Thanks so much for your support! 25 books is wonderful! Yes, please promote the Generations Book Club to your families. You’re welcome to use our language to explain the intent.

    1. Thank you for your comment and support. Due to copyright regulations, we can’t post readings of the featured books on YouTube. Some publishers are temporarily allowing online readings in closed platforms or on public ones for 24-48 hours. When we find those opportunities for our featured books, we’ll post them.

  4. Thank you so much for compiling this a all together. My boys and I are a little late getting started but what a phenomenal resource.

  5. Wonderful initiative! I would love to know if you have any links to purchase these in Canada by Black owned bookstores here. Thanks!

  6. I was planning on offering an optional book club in my community for Middle School students over the summer. Would it be alright if we use your book recs and resources as a springboard?

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