Black History Month

The month of February is a time to reflect on the rich history and accomplishments of Americans with African ancestry. It’s a time to reflect on what “Can Be”. (A Reason to Celebrate and Share Our History by Cris Clay) It is a time to stand united and look forward to the future with optimism and hope. This month provides the opportunity of a deep learning experience across different cultures.

Discover Books is pleased to highlight some of the great African-American authors who have left an indelible mark on the history of time. The history is rich and the poetry, stories, and people are unforgettable. Each week this month, we will highlight the great African-American authors and their messages to the world.

Phyllis Wheatley was the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry. She found her voice and freedom through her poetry. Born in West Africa and sold into slavery at the age of 7 or 8. She was emancipated after publishing her works. Her story is tragic but her words are beautiful. Her life is embedded deep within her writings. Born in 1753 and died in 1784 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, and civil rights activist working with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry. She has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees. At the inauguration of Bill Clinton, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993). This was the first time a poet recited at an inauguration since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Born in 1928 and died in 2014.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”

-Maya Angelou

Langston Hughes used jazz rhythms in his works leading to the art form known as jazz poetry. People’s love for poetry in the 1920s was dwindling, but he was connecting with his audience through the use of easily relatable language, themes, attitudes.

He was one of the main contributors of the Harlem Renaissance, and known for his colorful portrayals of Black life from the 1920s-1960s. Hughes wrote plays, short stories, poetry, and several books. He focused on change and using art to change people’s perspectives and worldviews. Born in 1902 and died in 1967.

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun?… Or does it explode?”

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly”

“I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

– Langston Hughes

W.E.B. Du Bois was an activist, sociologist, educator, historian, and prolific writer. He was one of the most influential African American thought leaders of the 20th century. It wasn’t until his college years that he began to see the effects of racism. His thesis, The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870 remains an authoritative work on the subject. Born in 1868 died in 1963.

“A true and worthy ideal frees and uplifts a people; a false ideal imprisons and lowers.”

“I believe in Liberty for all men; the space to stretch their arms and their souls; the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in the kingdom of God and love.”

“Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself.”

-W.E.B. Du Bois

Discover Books will continue throughout this month to highlight the contributions of these great writers. Join us on this incredible journey and Let The Stories Live On.

Young Adults’ Recommended Reading (by Kate)

As the primary IT guy for our website, one of the benefits my family enjoys is ordering books when I make code changes to DiscoverBooks.com. After a change, I always order a test book (to make sure everything still works properly). My daughter and wife fight about who gets the next “free” book (free to them – of course I pay for books just as everyone else does, after checking our social media and email campaigns for a coupon code). My 11-year-old daughter wrote a blog post about the books/series she likes the most:

Greetings, fellow readers! My name is Kate. I am in the sixth grade, and here are some of my middle school reading recommendations:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

I started to read the first (of five books in the series) in the summer before fifth grade. It had been sitting on my shelf, and I decided to bring it along on a trip. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. It is beautifully written and absolutely hilarious. I finished it at the beginning of the school year, and I was very excited to read the next book in the series. While reading, you will learn about Greek mythology. I already knew some Greek mythology before I read this series, but Riordan brought the characters to life for me. You’ll learn about Poseidon, Zeus, Medusa, Athena, Hera, Demeter, Ares, and many more including cool monsters and Titans. One of my favorite chapters is about Aunty Em’s Gnome Emporium, which turns out to be statue shop – with statues that Aunty Em (Medusa) created with her deadly gaze. I gave the books to my mom when I was done and she likes them, although she has to fight my friends for them because they’re all reading them too! Rick Riordan has four other different series right now and I’ve enjoyed them all as well. I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Visit Percy Jackson on Discover Books


Harry Potter by JK Rowling

The Harry Potter series is very well known to readers all around the world (more than 400 million copies sold, in 55 languages — including Latin and Ancient Greek). JK Rowling is the first author to make $1 billion. The series is about a boy who finds out he is a wizard. In every book he goes on a new adventure, usually with his two best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. I like to watch the movies after having read the books to see how they are different. The book is always better. My favorite book from the series is The Goblet of Fire.

In this book, Harry has to compete against wizards from other schools in many challenges. My favorite characters in the books are Hagrid, Cho Chang, and Fleur Delacour. I was lucky to have my mom take me for a weekend to Universal Studios in Florida. We visited the World of Harry Potter. I had butterbeer (it’s like an ice cream float – so good!) and we had a lot of fun exploring Diagon Alley. I highly recommend reading the books (first), watching the movies (second), and visiting Universal (if you can- get the butterbeer and chocolate frogs).

Visit Harry Potter Titles on Discover Books


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series is probably my favorite series so far this year. It is thrilling and action-packed. The only problem is younger readers may be frightened by the violence that’s described. The story takes place in the future with a country divided into 12 districts that are harshly ruled by an evil president in the capitol. Every year, two children from each district participate in the “games.” They fight each other until only one person is left alive. As the series continues, there is a revolt. The main character, Katniss, becomes the face of the revolt and is nicknamed the Mockingjay (which is the name of the third/final book in the series). For Christmas last year, I got a bow and arrow set – sometimes my dad calls me Kate-nis when I’m practicing. I don’t mind too much. I watched the movies after reading the books. They were good but left out a lot of parts I enjoyed from the books.

Visit Hunger Games Titles on Discover Books


Other series I recommend:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – I read all these a year or two ago. Easy to read, funny. Good for younger readers.

 

 

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth – I’m reading this now. It is similar to The Hunger Games in some ways.

 

 

 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I’m reading this next.