Bibliography of Enabling Texts

In addition to the enabling texts identified by Alfred W. Tatum in his book Reading for Their Life: (Re)Building the Textual Lineages of African American Adolescent Males we recommend the following titles.  See the attachment at the bottom of the page for a handout you can share with teens, parents, and teachers. 
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Adoff, Jaime. Jimi & Me. New York: Jump at the Son, 2005.
"After his father's tragic death, twelve-year-old Keith James moves from Brooklyn to a small midwestern town where his mixed race heritage is not accepted, but he finds comfort in the music of Jimi Hendrix and the friendship of a white classmate."--NoveList Plus.
Barnes, Derrick. We Could Be Brothers. New York:Scholastic, 2010.
"Two eighth-graders from very different backgrounds, Robeson "Crease" Battlefield and Pacino Clapton, discover in afterschool detention that they have a great deal in common."--NoveList Plus.
Binns, B.A. Pull. Lodi, New Jersey: WestSide Books, 2010.
After his father kills his mother, seventeen-year-old David struggles to take care of his two sisters--and himself--while dealing with his grief, guilt, and trying to fit in at a tough new school while hiding his past."--NoveList Plus.
de la Pena, Matt. Mexican Whiteboy.New York, Delacorte Press, 2008.
"Sixteen-year-old Danny searches for his identity amidst the confusion of being half-Mexican and half-white while spending a summer with his cousin and new friends on the baseball fields and back alleys of San Diego County, California."--NoveList Plus.
Grimes, Nikki. Dark Sons. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005, 2010.
"Alternating poems compare and contrast the conflicted feelings of Ishmael, son of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, and Sam, a teenager in New York City, as they try to come to terms with being abandoned by their fathers and with the love they feel for their younger stepbrothers."--NoveList Plus.
Myers, Walter Dean. Autobiography of My Dead Brother.ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.
"Jesse pours his heart and soul into his sketchbook to make sense of life in his troubled Harlem neighborhood and the loss of a close friend."--NoveList Plus. 
Myers, Walter Dean. Lockdown. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.
"Teenage Reese, serving time at a juvenile detention facility, gets a lesson in making it through hard times from an unlikely friend with a harrowing past."--NoveList Plus.
Pearsall, Shelly. All of the Above.Boston: Little Brown, 2008.
"Five urban middle school students, their teacher, and other community members relate how a school project to build the world's largest tetrahedron affects the lives of everyone involved."--Novelist Plus.
Volponi, Paul. Black and White. New York: Viking, 2005.
Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught. Rather than exploring the issue of race by pretending it doesn't exist, Volponi points directly at it, illustrating at every turn that the race of the various characters influences events as well as whether Marcus, the Black teen, will end up in prison alone.
Woodson, Jacqueline. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
At age 13, Melanin Sun, an African American boy growing up in Brooklyn with his single mother, finds his comfortable, quiet life shattered when his mother explains that she is gay and in love with Kristin, the white woman whom she has recently invited home.

Mowry, Jess. Skeleton Key. Port Orchard, Washington, Orchard House Press, 2007.
"Hounded by the police that have never helped him, but driven by his desire to save his mother, Jarett is exhausted by life. Robbie encourages him to try to build a future from the bones of his past. But wouldn't it be easier to just stay in this peaceful place of the dead forever?"--Book Jacket.  
Graphic Novels (Fiction & Nonfiction)
Hefler, Andrew. A Graphic Biography of Malcolm X. illus. by Randy DuBurke. New York: Hill & Wang, 2006.
"A graphic novel that shows Malcolm Little's transformation from a black youth beaten down by Jim Crow America into Malcolm X, the charismatic and controversial national spokesman for the Nation of Islam."--NoveList Plus.
Neri, G. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty.  illus. by Randy DuBurke. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2010.
"A graphic novel based on the true story of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, an eleven-year old African American gang member from Chicago who shot a young girl and was then shot by his own gang members"--Publisher description.

Historical Fiction
Houston, Julian. New Boy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
"Rob, age 16, has left Virginia to come to Draper, a Connecticut boarding school, to get the kind of education denied to African Americans in the segregated South of the late 1950s. The first student of color at Draper, the year is an education for him in all kinds of ways. Rob sees an acne-ridden Italian American classmate bullied and ostracized at school, visits Harlem and a jazz club, and gradually becomes more aware of the pervasiveness of prejudice."--Children's Literature Comprehensive Database.
Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. New York: Alladin, 2010.
"In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father's nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party."--NoveList Plus.

Davis, Sampson, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt with Sharon M. Draper. We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led To Success.   New York: Dutton, 2005.
In their own voices, three young men from Newark, New Jersey who who made a pledge to each other in high school to stay safe from drugs, gangs, and crime, and work to become doctors--a goal they have successfully achieved--share anecdotes from their childhoods, teen years, and young adult lives.

Freedman, Russell. Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  New York: Holiday House, 2006.
Covers the events surrounding and including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the end of segregation on buses. Tells not only about the involvement of well-known civil rights leaders such as Dr. King and Rosa parks, but also includes the contributions of ordinary citizens, many of whom were teenagers at the time.  Includes powerful black-and-white photographs from the period

Freedom Writers with Erin Grunwell. Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. New York: Broadway Books,1999.
"With powerful entries from the students’ own diaries and a narrative text by Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary is an uplifting, unforgettable example of how hard work, courage, and the spirit of determination changed the lives of a teacher and her students."--Book Jacket. 
Harper, Hill. Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny. New York: Gotham Books, 2006.
"The film and television star draws on personal experiences to present a series of motivational letters that explores such topics as the value of a good education and the media's inappropriate emphasis on material wealth."--NoveList Plus.
Poetry and Short Stories
Adoff, Arnold. I Am the Darker Brother: An Anthology of Modern Poems by African Americans. New York: Simon Pulse, Revised Edition, 1997.
This anthology of poetry by African-American writers includes contemporary writers such as Rita Dove, Maya Angelou, and Ishmael Reed as well as classic black poets like Countee Cullen, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Langston Hughes
Angelou, Maya. Life Doesn't Frighten Me. Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
"Presents Maya Angelou's poem illustrated by paintings and drawings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Features biographies of both the author and artist.--NoveList Plus.
Flake, Sharon B.  You Dont' Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys. New York: Hyperion, 2010.
"Teen boys speak in stories and free-verse poems about love, fear, sex, fun, anger, sorrow, and growing up black today."--Booklist.
Myers, Walter Dean. Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices. New York: Holiday House, 2004.
"Myers celebrates the people of Harlem with these powerful and soulful first-person poems in the voices of the residents who make up the legendary neighborhood: basketball players, teachers, mail carriers, jazz artists, maids,veterans, nannies, students, and more."--NoveList Plus.
Myers, Walter Dean. What they Found: Love on 145th Street. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2007.
"Fifteen interrelated stories explore different aspects of love, such as a dying father's determination to help start a family business--a beauty salon--and the relationship of two teens who plan to remain celibate until they marry."--NoveList Plus.
Myers, Walter Dean. 145th Street: Short Stories. New York: Delacorte Press, 2000.
"Myers draws upon his experiences growing up in Harlem to create these 10 interconnected stories about a neighborhood inhabited by colorful, memorable characters."--SLJ.

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till. illustrated by Philippe Lardy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
In 1955, people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention. Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. This martyr"s wreath, woven from a little-known but sophisticated form of poetry, challenges us to speak out against modern-day injustices, to "speak what we see."--Publisher Description.

Shakur, Tupac. The Rose that Grew from Concrete. New York: MTV Books, 1999.
A collection of poetry written by the rapper between 1989 and 1991, before he became famous. The poems are passionate, sometimes angry, and often compelling." --SLJ.

Smith, Hope Anita. Keeping the Night Watch. illus. by E.B. Lewis. New York: Holt, 2008.
Through powerful poems, Hope Anita Smith chronicles the nuanced emotions of a family that is slowly learning to heal and put the pieces back together.--Book Jacket.
You Hear Me: Poems and Writings by Teenage Boys.New York: Candlewick, 2001. 
"An anthology of stories, poems, and essays by adolescent boys on issues that concern them, including identity, girls, death, anger, appearance, and family."--NoveList Plus.

This website was created by Dr. Sandra Hughes Hassell, Professor at UNC Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science (SILS), and Casey Rawson, UNC SILS, MSLS 2011, Ph.D. Student. Our work to identify and moderate enabling texts with adolescent African American males has been funded by a 2010 Diversity Research Grant from the American Library Association.
Copyright May 2011
Sandra Hassell,
May 19, 2011, 7:34 AM