Generations Book Club: Community & Culture


The books featured on our site have shown the Black experience in all its shapes and forms. In our second Generation’s Book Club list we feature books that give readers a glimpse into the many flavors of community and culture – from a nighttime routine to put baby to sleep to the battle over who owns the culinary origins of soul food.

Join me on a short tour and if one of the stops intrigues you, stay a little longer by nestling inside the book. We’ve made them easy to purchase by partnering with Brian Lair Books, an independent, Black-owned, woman-owned bookstore located in Indiana. Along the way, think about what community means to you; and what things about your culture you want preserved, so readers many years from now get a peek into what molded you.

Picture Book: Brown Baby Lullaby

by Tameka Fryer Brown (Brown Bookshelf Board Member), Illustrated by AG Ford

See the world through baby’s eyes. A day outside, having music time with pots and pans and exploring the world around them tuckers little baby out. With Spanish words throughout, Brown Baby Lullaby is perfect for a read aloud or read along. The universal bedtime rituals depicted crosses cultures.

Praise for Brown Baby Lullaby

Starred Kirkus Review

Mater Mea Blog Post

Additional Resources

Brown Baby Lullaby Splashy Baby Coloring Page –


Upper Middle Grade: So Done

By Paula Chase (Brown Bookshelf Member)

Don’t forget your middle school readers, this summer. Although written with the sixth to eighth graders in mind, So Done has appealed to older teens who are less avid readers still searching for their book flavor. This friendship at a crossroads story takes place in a working class Black community. Steeped in long days at the community rec center or basketball court, So Done honors the traditions of summers around the way.

Join the author on Twitter (@thatMGBookchick) at 1 p.m. June 15 for a Twitter live special look at a scene in the book with a cultural tie to Black girls and their hair.

Two Black girls standing side by side under words So Done









Praise for So Done

2018 Kirkus Best Children’s Book

2018 Best of the Best Chicago Public Library (for Older readers)

Starred reviews: Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly

2018 Junior Library Guild

Additional Resources

Young Adult: Not So Pure And Simple

By Lamar Giles

Teen readers may not always need help finding books, but nudge Giles first venture into contemporary fiction their way. Not So Pure and Simple shines the light on teens in the Black church, toxic masculinity and the social pressures around sexuality and relationships.










Praise for Not So Pure & Simple

Starred reviews: Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Bookpage

Project Lit YA Selection 2020-21

We chat with Lamar about the difference between swag and toxic masculinity and get him to dish on what type of game he had, with the girls, in high school.

Additional Resources

Adult Book Selection: The Cooking Gene

By Michael W. Twitty

Regular visitors to The Brown Bookshelf know that we don’t usually do adult book recommendations. We’re hoping the whole family joins in on the reading fun, this summer. For our adult readers, check out Michael Twitty’s journey to traces his family’s roots while spotlighting the racial overtones associated with the ownership of soul food.










Praise for The Cooking Gene

2018 James Beard Award for Best Food Writing & Book of the Year

Starred Reviews: Kirkus, Library Journal

“Slavery made the world of our ancestors incredibly remote to us. Thankfully, the work of Michael W. Twitty helps restore our awareness of their struggles and successes bite by bite, giving us a true taste of the past.” — Dr. Henry Louis Gates, host of PBS’ Many Rivers to Cross and Finding Your Roots

Additional Resources

Mike Twitty discusses book at Chicago Humanities Festival –

The Cooking Gene website –

And if you missed it, check out our first Generation’s list, revolved around Black Music Month.

2 thoughts on “Generations Book Club: Community & Culture

  1. I see the picture book and the book for upper middle school (6th-8th graders). However, I’m looking for a book for a rising 3rd grader (8-9 yr old boy). Thanks!

    1. Check out The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. It’s good for upper elementary students and has received several accolades. It’s written in verse as well!

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