Wednesday, March 17, 2021

#road2reading Challenge - Celebrating Black Boy Joy! - 3.18.21

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers 
at the start of their independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

Here are some new(er) chapter books that celebrate black joy!

J.D. and the Great Barber Battle by J Dillard
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
written by J. Dillard
illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts
J.D. is starting third grade and finally gets to have his first haircut!  While he has enjoyed his time with his mom while she does his cornrows, he's been dreaming about what he is going to do with his first haircut.  Maybe a fade?  Maybe a high Afro, kind of like Steph Curry?  He knows his family can't afford the local neighborhood barber, so it will be up to his mom.  But when she's done, J.D. ends up with a hair cut he wants to cover up with a hat!  J.D.'s talents lie in his art and he figures out a way to not only shape his own hair, but also do some stylish finishes on his friends'.  Soon, the local barber finds himself losing business since he can't do such stylish designs.  Will they figure out a way to work together?
Coming in at 126 pages and with illustrations throughout the book, this is a perfect chapter book for readers who are looking for something a little longer.  This one looks to be an upcoming series, so I'm looking forward to more adventures with J.D.!

Simon B. Rhymin' by Dwayne Reed
Simon B. Rhymin'
written by Dwayne Reed
illustrated by Robert Paul Jr.
Librarians take note - this book will be a great one to have in audiobook format!  Full of raps and rhymes, I think listening to the beat will be so engaging for young readers!
Young Simon thinks in rhymes and loves to spin a beat... in his head!  Saying them out loud requires nerve that he just doesn't have.  Simon is starting fifth grade and has a teacher that also can rap some rhymes, but this teacher also assigns an oral report on the first day of school!  Simon needs to find something he cares about in his hometown to share with his classmates... and get over his fear of public speaking all within the first week of school!
I like that there is emphasis on finding something you care about to research and discuss - shows young readers that they can be change-makers no matter how young they are!
This one is longer - 226 pages - but with illustrations sprinkled here and there, it's a good one to hand to older readers who want something longer but with some supports, or younger readers who are very fluent and read through stories quickly.

Hockey Night in Kenya by Danson Mutinda
Hockey Night in Kenya
written by Danson Mutinda and Eric Walters
illustrated by Claudia Davila
I appreciated the author's note at the beginning of the story that explains how the authors are patrons of an orphanage in a community that is about 68 miles outside of Nairobi in Kenya.  Mr. Mutinda goes on to explain more about the demographics of the community and the people who live in the orphanage.  It's important background to help with understanding of the story, especially for young readers.
This is the story of Kitoo, who is a young boy in the orphanage.  Kitoo has a positive attitude about many things and loves reading.  A teacher gives him a book about sports that teaches him about hockey.  He learns from others in his community that there is a local rollerblade hockey team that plays at a park.  While visiting the park and watching the men play, Kitoo is able to get bits and pieces of old rollerblades that he is able to piece together to practice back at the orphanage.  It becomes  a passion for him!  Eventually, he is surprised with a trip to the city to try actual ice hockey.  
A quick read, 91 pages, but I love that it exposes young readers to a different location yet still shows the love of sports as a common thread!

So happy to see these stories and I know young readers will enjoy them, too!


  1. These look great, Michele--thank you! I read an interview somewhere about the Simon B. Rhymin'author--I believe he may be a teacher. Especially looking forward to that one!

  2. What a great set of books! I can imagine so many kids will see themselves in these stories and actually get to enjoy them. Thanks for the great post!

  3. You’ve got me off to a great start. Thank you, friend.