In 1968, Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton highlighted the role of young people in the Black Power movement, calling them “the real vanguard of change.” Almost half a century later, young folks remain at the forefront of movements for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, to name a few, but are all too often left out of important conversations and not given space to make their voices heard. Their stories and perspectives are rich and nuanced, and deserve literature that reflects the complexity of their experiences.
Not sure where to find books up to the task? Get started with these seven powerful titles, both fiction and non-fiction, that explore childhood, adolescence, coming-of-age, and multigenerational communities with honesty, courage, and heart.
1. Beautiful and Dark (Bella y oscura) by Rosa Montero
Beautiful and Dark tells the story of the childhood, both real and imagined, of a girl who journeys from the loneliness of an orphanage to the poor Neighborhood where a singular family takes her in. It is the allegorical tale of what we possess without having achieved it: the wisdom of childhood. In Beautiful and Dark, fantasy extracts beauty out of cruelty and out of the innocent oblivion of childhood.
2. City of One: Young Writers Speak to the World edited by Colette DeDonato
This anthology presents the work of over 150 young inner-city poets, reflecting on their experiences with violence and sharing their desires for peace and unity in their families, in their communities and across the globe. Each poet presents a unique perspective and voice; when read together their work becomes a powerful call for peace. Whether in the hands of educators, peace activists, poetry lovers, or other young writers, City of One is a compelling portrait of a generation of youth who use their words to re-envision the world.
3. Daughter of the Mountain by Edna Escamill
Resisting the onslaught of gringos coming to live in their southwestern border town, Bale and Maggie develop a friendship based on their common struggle. But they differ in their future possibilities: his is closed by poverty and family tragedy; hers is opened by her relationship with her Yaqui Indian grandmother, Adela Sewa. Maggie’s grandmother teaches her the ways of the land and her own form of spirituality as tools for survival. Her stories, or cuentos, reach back into the nineteenth century, illuminating a way of life that has disappeared, but which can still provide hope and continuity to a displaced people.
4. My Jewish Face & Other Stories by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz
My Jewish Face & Other Stories chronicles the coming of age and coming out of a daughter of the Jewish left. Wandering from Brooklyn to Harlem and Berkeley in the sixties, from the intense feminist politics of the seventies to the isolation and regathering of activism in the eighties, Kaye/Kantrowitz’s women struggle for lesbian community, for proud Jewish identity and always for justice steeped in compassion. As humanly warm and funny as they are serious, these stories will reach with great hope and energy across generations and across cultures.
5. Singing Softly/Cantanto Bajito by Carmen De Monteflores
Singing Softly/Cantando Bajito centers around the life of Pilar as told by her granddaughter Meli. The young Pilar’s liaison with the son of a monied and proud family cuts her off from her own family, leaves her socially adrift, alone, and, finally, affects her relationship with her oldest friend. It is in the act of narration, moving in soft rhythms and slowly revealed stories, that Meli reclaims her relationship with her grandmother and mother. Reaching out with her imagination, she binds together the three generations of women burdened by secrets and frees herself to come back to the Puerto Rico she has fled.
6. Solid Ground edited by Judith Tannenbaum
One hundred years after San Francisco’s Great Earthquake of 1906, WritersCorps gathers the powerful voices of San Francisco youth reflecting on solidity, violence, upheaval, and regeneration in their lives and in the world. The poems on these pages are a moving story, eloquent, fragile, courageous, and shattering.
7. The Way We Make Sense by Dawn Karima Pettigrew
Young Indiana Redpaint, traded by her father for a rodeo entry fee, flees Oklahoma to be raised by her grandparents in North Carolina. A generation later, her daughter Manna, whose life is deeply marked by her mother’s losses, runs from her own tragic past and catches up with her destiny—guided by a cast of unforgettable characters: Candy, a two-year old baby girl abandoned by her mother Sugar Begay; Silas Pipe, a Vietnam veteran with a glitzy past who has built an oasis in the desert; J.B., his grass-dancing nephew; and Bill Lawton, a widowed carpenter who can chisel life out of wood. Here in Gallup, New Mexico, Manna eventually finds wholeness and healing in unexpected people and places.
BONUS: The Next Generation of Native Storytellers
Join us this weekend for a reading and reflection on the meaning of oral histories and identity by Native American students. This presentation is the result of a collaboration between Bay Area high school and college students, Native elders, Choctaw author LeAnne Howe, and Aunt Lute Books.
This event is free and open to the public and wheelchair accessible. Refreshments will be provided.
Sunday, February 28th, 2016 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastside Arts Alliance 2277 International Blvd, Oakland, California 94606
- See more at: http://auntlute.com/7567/new_release/the-young-always-inherit-the-revolution-7-aunt-lute-titles-that-amplify-youth-voices/#sthash.C2JpwsSq.dpuf