The Black Experience Recommended Reading and Films for Adults and Young Adults


A= Audiobook – Overdrive   E=eBook – Overdrive   P=Print book   A-H=Hoopla Audio Book

M-H Hoopla Movie   BOCD=EIPL Book on CD    LP=EIPL Large Print Book   DVD=EIPL DVD

How to be an Antiracist / Ibram X. Kendi               A, E, & P

Combines ethics, history, law, and science with a personal narrative to describe how to move beyond the awareness of racism and contribute to making society just and equitable.

Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race / Reni Eddo-Lodge          E & P

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on her blog about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences.

Between the World and Me / Ta-Nehisi Coates                  A, E, P, BOCD, & LP

Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings–moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago’s South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America’s ‘long war on black people,’ or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.

Born a Crime: stories from a South African childhood / Trevor Noah        A, E, & P

Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa. Noah was born illegal–the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father’s servant in the brief moments when the family came together.

Slavery by Another Name: the re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II / Douglas A. Blackmon            E & P

A sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today. From the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II, under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests.

How Not to Get Shot: and other advice from white people / D.L. Hughley             A, E, BOCD, A-H

From comedian D.L. Hughley, one of the original kings of comedy, comes a cutting satire of race relations in the age of Trump and Black Lives Matter.

So You Want to Talk About Race / Ijeoma Oluo  A, E, A-H

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

The Souls of Black Folk / by W.E.B. Du Bois           A, E, P, A-H, & E-H

Du Bois dares as no one has before to describe the magnitude of American racism and demand an end to it. He draws on his own life for illustration, from his early experiences teaching in the hills of Tennessee to the death of his infant son and his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington.

Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption / Bryan Stevenson                              A, E, & P

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Recommended Movies

If Beale Street Could Talk             DVD + Blu Ray

A timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem involving newly engaged nineteen-year- old Tish and her fiancé Fonny who have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream.

I am not Your Negro       DVD + M-H

Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.

Selma                   DVD

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.

The Hate U Give               DVD + Blu Ray

Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr tries to find her voice in order to stand up for what’s right.

Dear White People         DVD

A sharp and funny comedy about a group of African-American students as they navigate campus life and racial boundaries at a predominately white college. A sly, provocative satire about being a black face in a white place.

Slavery by Another Name            M-H

Slavery By Another Name challenges one of America’s most cherished assumptions – the belief that slavery in the US ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – by telling the harrowing story of how in the South, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force.

King: Man of Peace in a Time of War                      M-H

A rare and candid TV interview with Martin Luther King – unseen in 40 years – is the centerpiece of this timely tribute, featuring exclusive interviews with such notables as Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell that provide fresh insight into the life and personality of the late civil rights leader.

12 Years a Slave                               DVD

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup, an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast, 12 Years a Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.

BlacKkKlansman               DVD+Blu Ray    

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.

Toni Morrison: the pieces I am                  DVD

An artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ’70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics, and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature.

Hidden Figures                 DVD+Blu Ray

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Loving                   DVD

The dramatized story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia who married in 1958 at a time when interracial marriage was not only considered to be immoral but was also illegal. The two are arrested, and they decide to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to fight for their love.

42: the Jackie Robinson Story     DVD + Blu Ray

History was made in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first black MLB player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.

The Great Debaters

Chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson, a debate team coach who turns a group of underdog students from a small African-American college into a historically elite debate team. Inspired by a true story.

Harriet                 DVD + Blu Ray

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, the movie tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Just Mercy          DVD + Blu Ray A powerful and thought-provoking true story follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first and most incendiary cases is that of Walter McMillian.

Black Enough: stories of being young & black in America  A, E, P

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless way to be Black enough. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi and featuring some of the most acclaimed, bestselling Black authors writing for teens today, this is an essential collection of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

A Phoenix First Must Burn: sixteen stories of black girl magic, resistance and hope / edited by Patrice Caldwell A, E, P

Black girls, including gender non-conforming individuals, star in this collection of sixteen stories of fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Tyler Johnson was Here / Jay Coles A, E, P

When Marvin Johnson’s twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police office, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom.

Pet / Akwaeke Emezi A, E, P

In a near-future society that claims to have gotten rid of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year-old Jam’s mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond  E, P

Walter Wilcox’s first love, Naomi, happens to be African American, so when Walter’s policeman father is caught in a racial profiling scandal, the teens’ bond and mutual love of the Foo Fighters may not be enough to keep them together through the pressures they face at school, at home, and online.

Bone by Bone by Bone / Tony Johnston P

In 1950s Tennessee, ten-year-old David’s racist father refuses to let him associate with his best friend Malcolm, an African American boy.

I’m not Dying With you Tonight / Kimberly Jones A, E, P

Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: a graphic history of women’s fights for their rights / Mikki Kendall E, P

Covering the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era, this fascinating graphic novel-style primer illuminates stories of notable women throughout history and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history.

Light it up / Kekla Magoon E, P

Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators.

All American Boys / Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely    A, E, P

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints.

Stamped: racism, antiracism, and you / a remix of the National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the beginning” written by Jason Reynolds    E, P

A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning

Just Mercy: adapted for young adults: a true story of the fight for justice / Bryan Stevenson.  P

Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Dear Martin / Nic Stone A, E, P

Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

Lies we Tell Ourselves / Robin Talley  P

In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent’s daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project.

The Hate U give / Angie Thomas  A, E, P
After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands
of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

On the Come up / Angie Thomas A, E, P

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip-hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral—for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public made her out to be.

Black and White / Paul Volponi  P

Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught.

Black Boy / White School / Brian F. Walker  E, P

When fourteen-year-old Anthony “Ant” Jones from the ghetto of East Cleveland, Ohio, gets a scholarship to a prep school in Maine, he finds that he must change his image and adapt to a world that never fully accepts him, but when he goes home he discovers that he no longer truly belongs there either.

Electronic Resources

Islip NAACP

April is the Cruelest Month…Enjoy these titles with cruel themes and epic villains!


The Robber Bride / by Margaret Atwood
Set in contemporary Toronto, The Robber Bride revolves around the lives of three fascinating women. Classmates from university, Roz, Charis, and Tony all shared the seductive and destructive experience of a past friendship with the flashy, sensuous, smart, irresisible Zenia. As the novel opens they are twenty years past their college days and have met at Zenia’s funeral. At lunch, after the funeral, they spot Zenia – not dead at all and up to no good.

Jaws / by Peter BenchleyAs a great white shark terrorizes a small Long Island town, marine biologist Matt Hooper and Police Chief Martin Brody must find a way to stop the shark before more people are killed.

Jane Eyre / by Charlotte Brontë
Orphaned Jane Eyre endures an unhappy childhood, hated by her aunt and cousins and then sent to comfortless Lowood School. But life there improves and Jane stays on as a teacher, though she still longs for love and friendship. At Mr. Rochester’s house, where she goes to work as a governess, she hopes she might have found them.

The Witches / by Roald Dahl
A throwback for adults – A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witch’s plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them into mice.

David Copperfield / by Charles Dickens
A young orphan deals with hardship in his early life at a boarding school and living with a controlling aunt, until he finds friendship and love as he pursues his ambition of being a writer.

Rebecca / by Daphne du MaurierA classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house’s first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.

Geek Love / by Katherine DunnOlympia, an albino hunchback dwarf, tells of a carnival family who breeds and trains their children for their freak show.

American Psycho / by Bret Easton EllisIn a black satire of the eighties, a decade of naked greed and unparalleled callousness, a successful Wall Street yuppie cannot get enough of anything – including murder.

Red Dragon / by Thomas HarrisWill Graham’s unusual, fearful ability to project himself into the minds of psychopaths puts him on the trail of Francis Dolorhyde, whose bizarre and bloody murders of two suburban families have been triggered by his viewing of a William Blake watercolor

The Talented Mr. Ripley / by Patricia HighsmithIn order to convince his son to come home, Herbert Greenleaf, a rich shipbuilder, sends Tom Ripley to Italy, but is unaware of his son’s friend’s criminal activities.

The Children of Men / by P. D. James
In 2021, with the human race becoming extinct because of the infertility of all males, Oxford historian Theodore Faron is drawn into the schemes of an unlikely group of revolutionaries out to save society.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest / by Ken KeseyMcMurphy, a criminal who feigns insanity, is admitted to a mental hospital where he challenges the autocratic authority of the head nurse.

Misery / by Stephen KingPaul Sheldon, author of a series of historical romances, wakes up in a secluded farmhouse in Colorado with broken legs and Annie Wilkes, a disappointed fan, hovering over him with drugs, ax, and blowtorch and demanding he bring his heroine back to life.

Lolita / by Vladimir Nabokov
A novel that studies the moral disintegration of a man whose obsessive desire to possess his step-daughter destroys the lives of those around him.

1984 / by George Orwell
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.

Frankenstein / by Mary Shelley
Tells the story of a scientist who discovers the secret of generating life from lifeless matter, and puts this knowledge to use by creating a monster being.

East of Eden / by John Steinbeck
This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California’s Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families–the Trasks and the Hamiltons–whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / by Robert Louis Stevenson
Good and kind Dr. Jekyll concocts a formula to eradicate his evil nature but the result is a physical transformation into a murderous alter ego known as Mr. Hyde. This sinister side of his personality starts to take over his life and the chemical antidote Jekyll uses to switch personalities gradually becomes less effective.

The Secret History / by Donna Tartt
Richard Papen, a relatively impoverished student at a New England college, falls in with an exclusive clique of rich, worldly Greek scholars and soon learns the dreadful secret that keeps them together.

Vanity Fair / by William Makepeace Thackeray
Two heroines–one humble, the other scheming–meet in boarding school and embark on very different lives, both experiencing affairs of love and war and the rise and fall of fortune, in a classic study of the dogged pursuit of wealth and status.The Picture of Dorian Gray / by Oscar Wilde
The handsome appearance of dissolute young Dorian Gray remains unchanged while the features in his portrait become distorted as his degeneration progresses.

Celebrate Women’s History Month by picking up one of these titles


We Should All be Feminists / by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Offers an updated definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness.

Red Comet / by Heather Clark
Focuses on Sylvia Plath’s remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art.

The Diary of a Young Girl / by Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years.

Marie Antoinette / by Antonia Fraser
Describes the life of Marie Antionette from her betrothal as a fourteen-year-old girl to the future King Louis XVI, through her life in the French court, to her courage in the face of revolutionaries who sent her to the guillotine.

My Own Words / by Ruth Bader GinsbergOffers a collection of engaging, serious, and playful writings and speeches from the Supreme Court justice on topics ranging from gender equality and the workings of the Court to Judaism and the value of looking beyond U.S. shores when interpreting the Constitution.

The Truths We Hold / by Kamala Harris
The civil rights leader, senator, and former attorney general of California draws on the lessons of her activist immigrant family to make recommendations for the universal issues of today, including economic inequality, health care, and national security.

Rise of the Rocket Girls / by Nathalia Holt
Traces the pivotal achievements of the elite female science recruits at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where in the mid-twentieth century they transformed rocket design and enabled the creation of the first American satellites.

Catherine the Great / by Robert Massie
Presents a reconstruction of the eighteenth-century empress’s life that covers her efforts to engage Russia in the cultural life of Europe, her creation of the Hermitage, and her numerous scandal-free romantic affairs.

Know My Name / by Chanel Miller
She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. He had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by almost eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.

Code Girls / by Liza Mundy
Documents the pivotal contributions of more than 10,000 American women who served as codebreakers during World War II, detailing how their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives and enabled their subsequent careers, in an account that also reveals the strict practice of secrecy that nearly erased their efforts from history.

Reading Lolita in Tehran / by Azar Nafisi
Describes growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the group of young women who came together at her home in secret every Thursday to read and discuss great books of Western literature.

Becoming / by Michelle ObamaAn intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House.

Fly Girls / by Keith O’Brien
The untold story of five women, including Amelia Earhart, who successfully fought to compete against men in the high-stakes national air races of the 1920s and 1930s.

D-Day Girls / by Sarah RoseThe award-winning author of For All the Tea in China documents the lesser-known story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to sabotage the Nazis and help pave the way for Allied victory during World War II.

Cleopatra / by Stacy SchiffSeparates fact from fiction to reconstruct the life of the most influential woman of her era, revealing Cleopatra as a complex woman and shrewd monarch whose life and death reshaped the ancient world.

Hidden Figures / by Margot Lee ShetterlyAn account of the previously unheralded but pivotal contributions of NASA’s African-American women mathematicians to America’s space program describes how they were segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws in spite of their groundbreaking successes.

My Beloved World / by Sonia Sotomayor
The first Hispanic-American on the U.S. Supreme Court shares the story of her life before becoming a judge, describing such experiences as her youth in a Bronx housing project, her relationship with a passionately spiritual grandparent, the ambition that fueled her ivy-league education and the individuals who helped shaped her career.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference / by Greta Thunberg
The groundbreaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who has become the voice of a generation, including her historic address to the United Nations.

Behind Every Great Man / by Marlene Wagman-GellerDetails the lives of forty women who stood behind their famous husbands and supported them, including such figures as Gandhi, Einstein, Picasso, and Malcolm X.

I Am Malala / by Malala Yousafzai
Describes the life of the young Pakistani student who advocated for women’s rights and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, survived an assassination attempt, and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.