ISO book that celebrates black girl power for precocious ten-year-old
May 30, 2020 8:26 AM   Subscribe

My mission, as the auntie who loves books, is to distract my ten-year-old niece with escapist fiction that ideally celebrates black girl power. Books where black girls triumph over injustice is ideal.

My niece is despondent over recent political news in the U.S. and has become acutely aware of the history of racism in this country. Her tastes are quite mature. She really enjoyed Persepolis. She's visited Africa (her mother is from the Ivory Coast).She wants to become a lawyer and loves dogs. I would like something really immersive, like a graphic novel or a universe a la Harry Potter that she can sink her teeth into and would make her feel empowered.

posted by angrycat to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
She might enjoy Slay by Brittney Morris. It's a recent YA novel about a high schooler who designs a video game celebrating black culture and history. Racism exists in this world and there's some offstage violence, (as well as simulated video game violence), but I don't think there's anything inappropriate in it for a mature ten year old. And it is 1000% about young black girl empowerment.
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2020

One more Slay tidbit that I forgot to include. You mentioned wanting something immersive - Morris made a card-based game as a companion to the book!
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:54 AM on May 30, 2020

I would recommend you read it first (to judge for 10, but you’ll like it too), but Akata Witch is fantastic. My daughter read it at 11. I didn’t care for the sequel, much scarier.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:55 AM on May 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

She might like the Binti series. It's science fiction, set in the future. Binti grows up in Namibia in a Himba family, and she travels to a space station university to study, but basically stumbles into a giant interplanetary conflict along the way. That's the first novella and the others deal with her integrating her academic and family lives, and learning about her special talents (which involve using math to do magic).

There's a violent scene in the beginning of the first book, it's pretty short so would be easy to pre-screen before you offer it to her.
posted by assenav at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 9:39 AM on May 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Aya is a series of graphic novel about a teenaged girl in Yopougon, Côte d'Ivoire in the 1970s. It's definitely YA, so maybe check out whether you feel it's appropriate first, but it's one of my favorites. A Blade So Black is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a Black teenage protagonist, but it might be too scary (lots of monsters and things) so again, check it out.

Also check out The Egypt Game and Yolanda's Genius. I'll keep thinking.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:03 AM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
posted by Redstart at 10:28 AM on May 30, 2020

Children of Blood and Bone and the sequels might fit, if not now then certainly in a year or two. They are YA fiction, world building ala Harry Potter etc, set in a fictional West Africa, with a female hero character. It might be a touch too old but that'll depend on your niece.
posted by true at 10:51 AM on May 30, 2020 [4 favorites]

This reminded me of a list that an 11-year-old black girl put together of books featuring black heroines.
posted by pinochiette at 12:39 PM on May 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

if comic books are to be considered then you could take a look at "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" (link to Vol 1 on amazon:

An article talking about the artist, Natacha Bustos:
posted by alchemist at 12:53 PM on May 30, 2020

She might also enjoy watching the recent film of A Wrinkle in Time (the heroine, Meg, is black in the movie, though not in the novel).
posted by praemunire at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2020

A lot of books here are aimed at younger kids, but you may find some good suggestions here?
posted by stillmoving at 3:04 PM on May 30, 2020

Jacqueline Woodson?
posted by bluebird at 3:07 PM on May 30, 2020

Christopher paul curtis' the mighty miss malone, which is a companion to his bud, not buddy
posted by brujita at 4:02 PM on May 30, 2020

If she has not yet read The True Meaning of Smekday, it hits most of the things on your list and is a really fun read
posted by Mchelly at 8:14 PM on May 30, 2020

Thanks so much everybody! I've started with sending her some collections of Aya and everything else is going on a list for future presents. A Children of Blood and Bone I sent her earlier, and she enjoyed it, so I'll get her the sequel.

Thanks again!
posted by angrycat at 1:30 AM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

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