Category Archives: books

30+ Must Read Books – Something for Everyone

Our January 2016 eNewsletter was sponsored by author Russell A. Mabane.  Learn how you may sponsor an AALBC.com eNewsletter.

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Bestselling Books for November/December 2015

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Our bestsellers list has been published continuously since 1998. For several years we have published this list every two months, but the new website design allows us to publish our bestsellers list on a monthly basis—with greater ease. We are happy to have recently introduced a bestsellers list for children’s books, which was something our readers frequently requested. We are also in the process of creating, for the first time, our all-time bestselling books list. We still have more than 10 years of sales data to add, but you can monitor the progress of AALBC.com’s all-time bestselling books list.


Authors You Should Know

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Jason Reynolds

Jason knows there are a lot—A LOT—of people, young, old, and in-between, who hate reading. He knows that many o f these book haters are boys. He also knows that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you’re reading this Jason’s master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that Jason totally feels you. He REALLY does. Because even though he’s a writer, he hates reading boring books too.

So here’s what he plans to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS.

Reynolds is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing For Young People MFA Program, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.


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T. Geronimo Johnson

Born and raised in New Orleans, Johnson is the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville, (longlisted for a National Book Award) and Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in language, literacy, and culture from UC Berkeley

Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville (Penguin Books, Feb 17, 2015) is the winner of the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.


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Fabienne Josaphat

Fabienne Josaphat received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University. Her short stories have appeared in various journals and magazines, including The Caribbean Writer and MiamiZine.

Here’s what Edwidge Danticat says about Josaphat debut novel, “Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow takes us to hell and back, inside one of the most brutal prisons run by one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Fabienne Josaphat impressively brings to life a horrible period as well as the men and women who fought against it. Filled with life, suspense, and humor, this powerful first novel is an irresistible read about the nature of good and evil, terror and injustice, and ultimately triumph and love. ”


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Carole Boston Weatherford

The daughter of educators, award-winning poet Carole began writing in first grade. Today she is the author of numerous books, including the Carter G. Woodson award winning title, The Sound That Jazz Makes and most recently, Dear Mr. Rosenwald. Her writing covers such topics as jazz and photography, as well as the slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow eras. When she’s not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. Coming from a family of educators, she has a passion for rescuing events and figures from obscurity by documenting American history.


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Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies and the chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2002 Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize for his book Exodus! Glaude is on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, African American National Biography, and Contemporary Pragmatism. Professor Glaude’s work also includes African American Religious Thought: An Anthology (2004) coedited with Cornel West.


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Marla Washington, PhD

Washington holds a doctorate degree in sociology. She is an expert on the subject matter of daddyless daughters. As a sociologist who grew up fatherless, she spent almost two decades charting her own dating experiences and collecting stories from other women. Dr. Washington realized they had the same common denominator, that is, they were all dating without any advice of a daddy or father figure.

In Dr. Washington’s book, Dating Without A Daddy: A Guide For Fatherless Women Looking For Love, she offers a unique perspective as to why some women find themselves in unhealthy romantic relationships.


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Shirley Perry-Church

Perry-Church is a devoted wife, proud parent, educator, author, and artist who dreamed about becoming a writer since she was a young girl. She is very excited to present to her parent and youth audience her first book, The Hunt for the Magic Pearl.

The goal of writing The Hunt for the Magic Pearl came as a result of teaching challenged 14 to 16 year old youths who were experiencing persistent difficulties in all levels of reading and writing. Perry-Church wanted to create fun, entertaining, and informative books that would spark imagination and creativity in youth who had often said to her, “Mrs. Church, I hate to read.”


Coretta Scott King Award Winning and Honored Books for 2016

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On January 11, 2016 the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video, and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.


Book Reviews

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For the Sake of Soul by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.

Sometimes short fiction can be a daunting task for the writer, especially when he decides to confront the challenges of plot, characterization, dialogue, and candor. Frederick K. Foote, a professor at California Community colleges and a traditional Black college in South Carolina, realizes this fact as he mines the details of his life for the printed page in his skillful short story collection, For The Sake Of Soul (Blue Nile Press, Oct 23, 2015). He knows his material well. He has lived it, so he understands if the reader can embrace his impressive imagination, then the tales of his ordinary men and women will grip his soul.

Comparisons to his work will be made to such stellar authors as Ernest Gaines, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Erskine Caldwell, and Robert Stone because of Foote’s effective use of time and place. He drops his people into the locales of the American South, central California, Vietnam in one of the significant time periods of the 1960s and 1970s. His vision is deceptively simple and authentic, and the overall effect is powerful. More


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The Summer of my Fifteenth Year by Geri Spencer Hunter

There are so many gems to be discovered in independent publishing. Every now and then, you come across the book that makes your mind sit up and take notice. If a writer wants to put his or her focus on a loathsome cultural issue that society would love to be shoved under the run, the editors of the established publishing world usually step over it and look elsewhere. This book’s author, Geri Spencer Hunter, a retired Public Health nurse and a great-grandmother, has written a gem and it should have published by one of the big reputable houses.

Why is incest so despicable? Why is it about this abhorrent form of sex that makes people cringe? In Hunter’s second novel, The Summer Of My Fifteenth Year (Blue Nile Press, Jun 5, 2015), she concentrates on the Netters, a wealthy Black family in a small Iowa town during the 1930s, and the return of the favored son, Charleston Epstein Netter. At present, Etta, now eighty-six, is recounting that summer that changed her life and shattered the calm of her family with a scandal that would sink most households. She sits in her favorite chair on the porch where she was born, telling her story into a tape recorder. More


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Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters by Jill Marie Snyder

Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters (AuthorHouse, Mar 5, 2015) is an epistolary love story of a 1930s courtship between Mary Brooks and Luther Snyder, the author’s parents. Their letters, which span from 1937 to 1940 tell not only their love story but they are also an insightful look at American and African American history.

Mary and Luther met in 1935 at a wedding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “After that first meeting, my father would frequently visit his aunt for a few minutes, then wander over to my mother’s front porch to spend hours chatting with her and her sister Sara. At first, they weren’t sure which sister was the attraction, but over time it became clear it was Mary.” More


Great Books Coming Out Soon

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If you are looking for a preview of great reads coming soon, check out our list of soon to be released books. You find a curated list of books that will be published in the next few months. You will discover new books from established authors, as well as terrific reads from debut authors.

If you are looking for a new book that you can read today, you may use our list of books published in the last two months. As with our soon to be released list of books, this is a hand picked list of books across genres that have been recommended by industry professionals, book clubs, booksellers and avid readers.


A Great Deal to Promote Your Book

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The Large Book Cover Advertisement Includes a Free Author Profile!

1. Free Author Profile
2. Large Book Cover Ads (or customized advertising banner ads) run on virtually all our web pages
3. Large Book Covers are very prominent on the page
4. Up to 2 Large Book Cover Ads may rotate in one of three available positions
5. Campaigns may start on any date and end at midnight 32 full days later.

The large book cover ad will be a key advertising unit on AALBC.com going forward. These ads perform very well. Bang for buck, you are unlikely to find a better way to reach readers of Black literature. Read this article to learn more about the large book cover ad type, and advertising in general.


Related Articles & News

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Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children‘s Literature

In October The New York Times released their list of the “Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.” They failed to include a single Black illustrator.

Just this month, Scholastic Press, published, defended, then ultimately pulled, due to public outrage, the racially insensitive children’s book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington.

Wade Hudson, president and CEO of Just Us Books, an independent publisher of children’s books has some solutions. Hudson has given us ten ways we can help increase the number of quality children’s books that celebrate diversity, and how we can support the diverse books already available, This is sage advice needed during a time when our culture is, at best, marginalized and, at worse, under assault. More


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Our Future is Cyberspace

“With the introduction of cyberspace, younger writers have the ability to reach audiences unheard of during the sixties when African American writers produced broadsides and saddle-stitched chapbooks. As access to cyberspace becomes less expensive, more voices will be heard and this period, the most prolific in the history of African American Literature, will rise to worldwide prominence, no longer having to obey the tastes of the outsiders in power or the dictates of the establishment-manufactured Talented Tenth.” —Ishmael Reed (Black Issues Book Review; November-December 1999)

After reading this again, over 16 years, later I couldn’t help but think that this vision has yet to be realized. I believe we have the potential—I’ve bet my future on it. However we have a long way to go, even to make up for the reversals over the last 10 years. I still miss Black Issues Book Review magazine.


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Why Black Owned Websites Fail

When the web first started Black-owned websites were very likely to link to other sites. We all recognized that by helping visitors discover other interesting websites, that added value to our own websites. In fact, before search, this was the primary way we discovered other Black websites. This is why I continue to link to other websites and may be the reason I’ve been able to keep this website viable for 18 years. Read the rest of the article to find out what changed?


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Please take a few seconds to subscribe to AALBC.com’s YouTube channel. This won’t cost you anything; I need to add an additional 220 subscribers to enable paid content on our YouTube channel. Thanks!


Book Clubs Lead The Way

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Literary Ladies Book Club (New Jersey)

Book clubs are a powerful force in the Black Book Ecosystem. With the loss of bookstores and media coverage, book clubs are increasingly a significant, if not the primary supporter, an author’s work.

AALBC.com will try to serve as a “book club of book clubs,” by providing a platfrom for clubs to, share information and ideas with other clubs, recruit members, leverage our collective buying power, and more.

Readers who are not members of a book club will benefit too. We can attend book club sponsored events like, The Literary Lounge, hosted by the Literary Ladies (pictured above). We can also benefit by reviewing the books clubs have selected for their reading lists (they don’t just read any ole book). In fact I discovered Mat Johnson’s latest novel on the Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society, from Austin, TX, reading list.


Events

By the time the February eNewsletter is published, I hope to have completed the upgrade of the Events section of our website. I will not only include major festival and fairs, but authors signings and more. If you are hosting an event, and want it included on AALBC.com, just visit our African American Literature Discussion Forum and post your event’s details there. I will add it to our events section.
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The National Writers Union’s Fifth Annual New York Conference – February 13, 2016 – New York, NY

I will be giving a presentation on publicizing your books.

The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) is the only labor union representing writers in every genre. With chapters across the nation, the NWU works to advance economic and working conditions of writers – lobbying for legislation, initiating lawsuits, educating writers on their rights, networking, organizing picket lines, publicizing viable alternatives to unfair practices by both the traditional and Internet publishers, and by mobilizing members to fight for their collective self‐interest.


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13th National Black Writers Conference Thursday, March 31 – Sunday, April 3, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY

Honorary Chair: Rita Dove, Former Poet Laureate of The U.S. 2016 Honorees: Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson & Charles Johnson

AALBC.com will host a seminar on book publishing, covering editorial, production, marketing, and more. Additional updates are coming soon.


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Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! AALBC.com’s website upgrade continues to progressing nicely—but it is killing me LOL!

I appreciate all of the feedback that you have provided. It will all contribute to making our website world class. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section of any page or simply email me at troy@aalbc.com.

Please link to AALBC.com from your website and share any content you find valueable on social media platforms, via word of mouth, or in any fashion that makes sense to you.

Subscribe
Most importantly, please consider purchasing, or renewing, your paid subscription to this eNewsletter.  The ability of AALBC.com to thrive, or die, is literarlly up to you Troy. Your support is needed.

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,

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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

ankh

Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children’s Literature

Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children’s Literature
by Wade Hudson

This Diversity Books Pledge was developed after attending Day of Diversity, sponsored by the Association for Library Services to Children and the Children’s Book Council and held on January 30, 2015 during the American Library Association Mid-Winter conference in Chicago, IL.

The lack of real diversity in children’s literature is a problem that has been difficult to conquer. Many have confronted it over the years, doing what they could to effect important change. In 1920, W.E.B. DuBois, Jessie Fausett and Augustus G. Dill established The Brownies Book, a monthly magazine that writer and university associate professor Katharine Capshaw Smith cites as “the beginning of Black children’s literature.”

booksDuring the decades that followed, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Effie Lee Newsome, playwright Willis Richardson, artist Lois Mailou Jones and others continued to produce works that helped to move Black children’s literature forward. In 1965, The Council on Interracial Books for Children was formed to “promote and develop children’s literature that adequately reflects a multiracial society.” In 1969, Where Does the Day Go, written by Walter Dean Myers, won a Council contest and became the celebrated author’s first published book. In 1968, To Be a Slave, by Julius Lester, illustrated by Tom Feelings, was published (and earned a 1968 Newbery Honor). Virginia Hamilton’s first book, Zeely, was published in 1969. In 1970, the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table of the American Library Association established the Coretta Scott King Award to recognize outstanding works for children written by African Americans.

Other awards recognizing the outstanding works of writers and illustrators of color followed, including the Pura Belpré Award. During the past several decades, independent presses such as Just Us Books, Lee & Low Books, Arte Publico Press, Cinco Puntos, and others, have led the charge–dedicating their catalogs to quality books for children and young adults that reflect our nation’s diversity. Major publishers have added to the number of diverse books as well. Yet, real diversity in children’s literature remains a goal rather than a reality. (see: “Where are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” by the late Walter Dean Myers)

The truth is, children’s book publishing faces the same challenges that society faces when it comes to ethnic, racial and gender fairness, equity and justice. But, just as in society, we all must play a role if we are to make change that is transformative.

The Diversity Pledge below offers steps anyone can take to help ensure that literature for our children and young people is truly representative of who we are as a diverse world. Will you take the pledge to take steps to make a difference?

DIVERSITY BOOKS PLEDGE
Created by Wade Hudson (© 2014)

To help increase the number of quality children’s books that celebrate diversity, and to support the diverse books already available,

I Pledge To:

  1. Each year, personally introduce 10 different children’s books that reflect our nation’s diversity to educators, librarians, bookstore managers, and parents—anyone who has the influence and/or power to help increase the number of these books within our body of children’s literature.
  2. Gift at least 5 of these books to children other than my own—whether they’re neighbors’, friends’ or co-workers’ children; children at my place of worship or local youth organizations; or as donations to other organizations in my community.
  3. Try to give at least 2 or 3 of these books to children who might not normally have diverse books in their homes.
  4. Make a special effort to buy some of these books from independent publishers, independent bookstores and vendors, including those operated by people of color.
  5. Lift up the importance of having books that reflect our nation’s diversity at every opportunity—not just within my circle of friends, but among others with whom I don’t normally interact.
  6. When visiting a book store, encourage the manager to include a more diverse offering of children’s books. Take the initiative to purchase at least one multicultural title to show my commitment to supporting these books.
  7. Encourage educators and school administrators to include multicultural books among their classroom resources.
  8. Encourage book reviewers and bloggers to include more multicultural books among the books they review.
  9. Publicly celebrate positive multicultural children’s literature, including posting multicultural books and reviews of those books on my personal Facebook page and other social media platforms.
  10. Encourage others to take this pledge.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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http://aalbc.org/authors/author.php?author_name=Wade+HudsonWade Hudson is president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc., independent publisher of children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black people, history and culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @hudsonwade and find his books at http://justusbooks.com.

 

Related Links Provided by AALBC.com

Why Black Owned Websites Fail

A few days ago a friend came across an article in, WhereItzAt Magazine. In the magazine was an article, “In defense of Black Bookstores,” which addressed the loss of Black bookstores and why it matters.  This is an issue I’ve covered extensively.  Indeed, I have published a directory of Black owned bookstores for as long as I have run this site.  My current coverage of Black owned bookstores is probably the most extensive coverage available on the web today.  So it goes without saying that I applaud WhereItzAt Magazine’s coverage of this important issue.

My friend took a photo of the article (shown below) and shared it with me, because this website was mentioned, in the last paragraph, as a resource where one my find a list of Black owned bookstores.

Of course I was interested in sharing this article, but I decided to look for an online version which would make it possible for others to more easily read.  I found the article, but noticed that the online version did not mention AALBC.com at all?!

This just struck me as simply dumb.  Why would the website not mention, and link to an, online resource  to help readers discover the remaining Black owned bookstores–the very thing they are purporting to support?  They were obviously aware of the resource; why would they decide to exclude it on the online version of their article?

I still shared the article, because the subject is important.  In fact, I even added WhereItzAt Magazine. to my listing of Black owned magazines (even though I have not yet verified that they are still in print).  I also added their website to my Huria Search engine which allows people to search Black owned websites exclusively.

Now, while I’m using WhereItzAt Magazine as an example they are the norm–and this is our biggest problem. Stated plainly, Black websites do not link to each other.

To illustrate this point, lets run a Huria Search on “aalbc.”  Again Huria Search’s only goal is to elevate Black websites by making their content easier to find.  In fact, the websites I own, including AALBC.com, are not included in the hundreds of sites that are indexed in Huria Search.

If you examine, the top results you will see that most are two years older or more.  There are none from the largest Black websites.  The one search result from a top Black website was Black Enterprise Magazine, where they credited AALBC.com for an image that they copied from my website.  Even here Black Enterprise they did not actually link back to the the AALBC.com page where they grabbed the image (looking at the page today, Black Enterprise even removed that reference).

You’ll also see from that query that there are 13,000 results.  Which may give you the impression that there are many links back to AALBC.com—and there, but they tend to be older links.  The problem I’m describing is relatively new.

When the web first started Black-owned websites were very likely to link to other sites. We all recognized that by helping visitors discover other interesting websites, that added value to our own websites.  In fact, before search, this was the primary way we discovered other Black websites.  This is why I continue to link to other websites and may be the reason I’ve been able to keep this website viable for 18 years

What changed?

Well some webmasters have been convinced that linking to other websites hurts their website: Some feel linking to other websites encourages people to leave their website. Others feel by linking to a potentially lower “quality” websites, hurts their website in terms of search engine optimization (SEO).  Of course there is the problem of the site they link to removing the page in the future, creating a broken link on their website, which is bad for SEO and the experience of their visitors.

But all of these reasons can be addressed—particularly by webmasters interested in the health and vibrancy of the Black web.  Relying on social media, or search, to elevate our sites and make them discoverable, is simply not working.

To compound this problem, when webmasters started linking to other websites, they began linking aggressively to social media websites. The result is that collectively we are uplifting social media and marginalizing our own websites.

This problem is further exacerbated by Google (who handles the majority of searches), whose search algorithm looks at our behavior, of linking to social media and not linking to Black websites, and makes the reasonable conclusion to elevate social media over Black websites in search engine results.

All of this has had disastrous results on the ability of websites to generate traffic and survive.  As a result, the web is far less rich—particularly as it relates to content generated by and for Black people.  We have lost some terrific website and potentially great ones are discouraged from even starting because of the difficulty of attracting visitors.

If you have read this far, I suspect this article has resonated with you.  If so, there is something you can do: Take every opportunity you have to link to another website.  You don’t need to have a website or blog to do this.  You can link to and share links to websites from your social media sites—a hyperlink to a website is much better for a website, than tagging or liking that website on a social media platform.  If you read an article which has a place for comments, and feel another website offers a related resource, link to that website in the article’s comments section.

Of course if you appreciated this article share it by linking to it or using the social media icons shown.

Footnote:
Immediately after publishing this article, I connected with the publisher of WhereItzAt Magazine; not only will they update their “In defense of Black Bookstores,” article to add a link to our bookstore database.  They have also expressed an interest in collaborating.

I’m pleased WhereItzAt Magazine received the article as intended.  I also look forward to working with them in a more constructive, and mutually beneficial, fashion.  As a result, you the reader, will be much better served.

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