The black lives syllabus: 32 reading lists dedicated to blackness

I love to read. It was in kindergarten when I received my first library card (which I still use to this day) and it was in that moment, I recognized the power of reading and the importance of libraries.

In school, we were always assigned books to read, but it was out of school that I read the books that applied to what I enjoyed. It was at home, where I would borrow from my mother the books she was reading. It was at home, I was introduced to Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, Malcolm X, Eric Jerome Dickey, Walter Mosely, Alex Haley, Edwidge Danticat, and Mildred Taylor. Home, was where I got a taste of the various perspectives on blackness and it was at the library, that I was able to check out even more books by these authors. As I got older and technology evolved, I was able to add blogs, podcasts, and other mediums to how I accessed knowledge.

The one thing I find striking is that in school you are given a list of readings that are tailored for certain targeted learning objectives and often these targeted learning objectives are not a reflection of the world (There is not that much diversity in children books). I know for me, often it is difficult to know independently what books to read and what topic areas that were not covered in school might be important to understand. To overcome this difficulty, I have used Internet searches of ‘must read books/authors’ to help me curate books, authors, and topics.

What I love about the Internet is the collaborative nature of many individuals. I have found in recent years that people are beginning to curate lists about topics that may not be covered in school. I tend to gravitate towards topics that are of importance to my personal and professional development. These areas are: productivity, business, personal finance, wellness, and black lives.

The topic of black lives has become even more relevant as we see in the US and across the world the various issues that continue to fester.
Over the years, I have been revisiting books I read in my youth and discovering new books in my adulthood. The lists below are some that I found that cover a range of topics, authors, and books. Some of the lists are about race relations, race identity, and racial violence. Others are about books that children and teenagers can read to help them understand topics relating to race. Others are just about suggested black authors to read. There even is a list about the books featured in the new Luke Cage show.

I hope that from these resources listed, you are able to create a list that is tailored to your specific interest areas that might not have been covered in your elementary school, high school, or college classes.

Just a suggestion – as you go through these lists and try to figure out which books to read, try either choosing based on interest or books or authors that repeated.

If you know of any other lists related to black lives, please share them in the comments. I always am looking for more books and articles to read and would love to grow this resource.


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32 reading lists dedicated to blackness

Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter syllabus

Ferguson syllabus

Charleston syllabus

Black lives matter: perspectives on blackness, state violence, and resistance 

Complete summer reading syllabus on black lives matter 

Readings Related to Space and Place

Black geographies 

Radical black cities, 2014 

Radical black cities, 2015 

Reading Haiti, 2011 

Reading Haiti, 2012 

Reading Haiti, 2014 

Urban design and race 

Black Authors and Books to Read

30 books by blacks authors you should read 

10 black authors to read 

100 must read African American books 

101 African American novels 

10 books for 2014 

10 books for 2015 

Black literature featured in Netflix’s Luke Cage

African American Literature Book Club (added 10/8/16)

Radical Black Reading

Radical black reading, 2011 

Radical black reading, 2012 

Radical black reading 2013 

Radical black reading 2014 

Black Feminism Syllabus

The ‘MHP’ black feminism syllabus 

Black disable woman syllabus

The lemonade syllabus

Black Library Professionals

Annotated chronological bibliography of diversity, recruitment, retention and other concerns regarding African American and ethnic library professionals 

Libraries for black lives resource list

Racial Injustice and Sports

Colin Kaepernick syllabus

Lists for grades K to 12 (though I think relevant to all ages)

Black panther syllabus 

Books about protesting 

List of Coretta Scott King Awardees (1970 to Present)



Photo Credit: Ginny Robot

#FridayReads: The number one way to get free books

In honor of #LibraryCardSignUp month, #eBookLove day, and #FridayReads, today I share some book and money saving tips.


The other day, I was on the phone with a friend. She mentioned how she needed to start saving money, in almost the same breath, she mentioned how she was about to order at $9.99 book on Amazon. If she could have seen my face, she would have known I was giving her the side eye.


I told her “I’m always on my soapbox advocating for the library and you want to tell me you are buying a 10 dollar book! You must not ever listen to me!” After we laughed, we discussed possible ways she could save money by seeing if her library offered that book either in print or digitally.


So a friendly reminder:


If you prefer print books, the library has it… for free.

If you prefer digital books, the library has it… for free.

If you prefer print or digital magazines, the library has it… for free.

If you prefer audiobooks, yup, the library has that too… for free.


There are many services that the library offers beyond books, so I encourage you to browse your library website and see what services you could use. Sign up for a library card, you won’t be disappointed!


Want to read more of my thoughts on libraries? Check out the links below.

Why Libraries should stay open and five useful resources available at the library.



A geography PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo retrieved from: American Library Association

5 more ways to utilize the public library

I have been a proud library cardholder since I was four years old. I loved going to the library with my family and when I was old enough I even volunteered for a summer. I am a huge advocate for the library, but often get weird looks from people when I gush and rave about my local library. Once I had a person say ‘I thought the library was only for children, the homeless, and pedophiles!’ What?! That comment prompted me to write a blog post in September of 2011 discussing why libraries should stay open. In that post, I listed 10 free ways people could utilize libraries. I did this to show people that libraries aren’t dead, in fact libraries have become quite innovative in designing programs and initiatives that keep up with this technological and fast paced age.

My NY library card expired two weeks ago and I can only renew it in person, so I’ve been in a bit of a book withdrawal since I can’t access the free Overdrive eBooks.  So I decided to check out my local library here in Tempe, to see if they had the same eBook lending program. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had even more perks than my NY library.

This discovery prompted me to update my list of ways people can utilize the library for free.

1. Download and keep free music legally

Through Freegal Music, library cardholders can download three songs or two videos per week and keep the content. The content can be used via the web, iTunes, and mobile devices (through an app).

2. Enroll in online classes

Universal Class offer over 500 free online continuing education classes on a multitude of topics. With your library card, you can also learn another language with Rocket Languages.

3. Subscribe to magazines and travel guides

Through Zinio, library cardholders can subscribe to digital magazines for free. In addition, Infotrac is a free service that gives library patrons access to travel guides, National Geographic and National Geographic Kids.

4. Free audiobooks

Overdrive offers free eBooks and audiobooks, but One Click Digital is exclusive to just audiobooks.

5. Homework help for children and teenagers

There are many programs offered to help children and teenagers with homework, projects, and even GED preparation. In addition to academic assistance, there are book clubs, reading time, game nights, and more for kids of all ages to enjoy.

These are just a few programs that could be available at your library. Visit your public library today or visit the website to find out what hidden gems your community has to offer.


An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Michal Zacharzewski

Should Libraries Stay Open?

When was the last time you checked out a book from the library? Individuals debate that the age of the library/books is drawing to an end and the technology age is taking over. These individuals might not have entered a library in several years. My public library has been innovative and versatile in its quest to join the technology age. During the last several years, I have learned how to knit, watched movies, played video games, listened to audiobooks, listened to live concerts, learned Chi Gong, and more all for free and through my public library. I encourage all individuals to visit their local library or a large branch nearby and see for yourself the changes.


10 Free Ways to Utilize the Public Library

1. Visit a Museum

My library allows patrons to reserve museum passes for 2-8 people depending on museum location. Some of the passes even cover parking and special events. Thus far, I have visited a garden/museum on Long Island and have plans to visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island Children’s Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Nassau County Museum of Art, and the New York Botanical Garden.


2. No Internet Access? No Problem


Imagine my dismay when my laptop screen broke. I could barely read my work through the black screen. Thankfully, the library had several internet access computers available for use. When my laptop was repaired, I still visited the library for its strong wireless internet signal and quiet atmosphere.


3. Free Video Games

When I purchased my Wii, I had no idea games would sometimes cost up to 60 dollars; almost as expensive as Xbox games. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out my library had Wii, Xbox, and Playstation games available for rent. I was even more surprised to find out the games were new.


4. Free Ebooks/Podcasts

If you have an MP3 player, PC, MAC, Tablet, or eReader, you are in luck. The library has thousands of digital downloads available. Depending on your prefered device, all that is needed is: Wi-Fi, a Library Card, and space to download the program and/or apps. When a popular book is on hold at the library, I bypass the wait and download it.


5. Out of Work?

Career coaching programs are available at my library for those who need interview tips, resume help, computer lessons, and access to employment databases. This is a great resource for all those looking for work or guidance.


6. Exhibits

If you don’t have time to reserve a museum pass and to travel to different locations, just stay at the library. My library often has art exhibits for display. This is a great way to view things without traveling the distance. Sometimes there are meet and greets available.


7. Outreach

The elderly are not left out when it comes to library events. If you have an elderly relative that wants to check out a book, find out if your library offers free delivery service to those with physical disabilities. Those with visual or hearing impairments can utilize the Closed Circuit Television Magnifier, Teletype Machine, and talking books with playback machines.


8. Entertainment

The library has the latest movies available for rent and for viewing. After you check out your books, head on down to the conference rooms and watch a movie, listen to a concert, join a book discussion, meet an author, or even learn how to salsa/ballroom dance.


9. Exercise for Less

I took 6 Chi Gong classes for 15 dollars at my library and each class was 60 minutes long, I’m not a math person, but that is less than 3 dollars a class. Try and find a lower price on yoga or aerobics classes.


10. Support

After purchasing books for a low price at the annual book sale, I stumbled upon a knitting class. I found out that every week people came to the library to knit, sew, crochet, etc and it was free! I learned the basics of knitting in no time. I also learned that the library had weekly meet-ups for new mothers, people who needed defensive driving lessons, those who needed to learn how to use a camera, story time for tots, and more. The best part of these programs: you can always request to have something at the library. Because of the patrons and funds, the library is able to continue to provide free programs.

These are just a brief overview of what could be available at your library. It feels like every month, I discover something new. Visit your public library today or visit the website to find out what hidden gems your community has to offer.

So, what do you think? Should Public Libraries stay open?



An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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