”Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o

Sulwe is an affirming book about the beauty of dark skin. Sulwe was born the color of midnight, darker than all those around her and she felt ashamed and wanted to change her skin. The journey to how she came to accept and be proud of her skin was really exceptional. I hope all children read this book and see not just the beauty in their own skin and who they are but the beauty of those who are different from us as well. Pair this book with “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers and poems from “Just Like Me” by Vanessa Brantley-Newton to celebrate and talk about self love, and grow and nurture self confidence from a young age.

— Fawn Contreras, youth services clerk, Valley Community Library

”Darling Rose Gold” by Stephanie Wrobel

For 18 years, Rose Gold Watts and those around her believed she was seriously ill, spending most of her time at doctors’ offices and in the hospital. Doctors were unable to identify the cause of her illness. In reality, Rose Gold’s mother, Patty, had been poisoning her all those years, which left Rose Gold with almost unending vomiting, in a state of severe malnutrition. Eventually, Patty was arrested, stood trial and was convicted of aggravated child abuse. She was sentenced to five years in prison. A pariah in her town and with nowhere to go, Patty begs Rose Gold to take her in when she is released. Astonishingly, Rose Gold agrees to do so. As this tense psychological thriller unfolds, we learn that mothers never forget and daughters never forgive.

— Lynda Gelik, volunteer, Valley Community Library

“Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah

As a fan of The Daily Show, I already appreciated Trevor Noah’s clever and satirical humor while talking about heavy topics. Do not pick up this book expecting to laugh on every page. While there is plenty of humor, it covers his personal experiences with apartheid, poverty, domestic violence and racism. Born to a white father and black mother, his mere existence was a crime during apartheid. He shares what it was like to grow up as a mixed-race child during the last days of apartheid and its aftermath. His story is written as a series of short essays reflecting his life growing up in poverty and in a culture of crime. One of my favorite quotes from this book was, “People love to say, ‘Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ What they don’t say is, ‘And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.’ That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”

— Michelle Georgetti, Library Director, Valley Community Library

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