5 novels to read in honor of Black History Month

Julianna Lowe

Black History Month, a 29 day celebration of black history and culture, can be honored in a multitude of ways. Whether it be educating yourself on the chronology of black history, appreciating black music and art or attending celebratory events, February should be a spotlight for black culture. Here are five books you can read to contribute to Black History Month. 

1. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

Published in 2017, this contemporary novel gives a close look into today’s black culture. Starr, the main character, witnesses a police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend. The novel follows her strife as she carries the weight of that incident on her shoulders. A commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement, Thomas’s New York Times Bestselling novel is a must-read in this political climate.

2. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Late Morrison’s 1987 work of fiction tells the story of Sethe, a black woman who escaped from slavery and crossed the Ohio River. Sethe lives with her daughter Denver, and the two share a house with an unpleasant ghost. Beloved is based on the real story of a former slave, but elements of the Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction establish a tone for slavery that is essential to understanding the reason for having Black History Month.

3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

If you happened to miss out on Lee’s only (intended) publication, this is the perfect time to read it. “To Kill a Mockingbird” details the story of Scout Finch, a young black girl who is fascinated by her mysterious neighbor called Boo Radley. The novel deals with racial and gender injustice in the south — a theme necessary to the celebration of Black History Month in Kentucky.

4. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

Set in the 1960s, Stockett’s novel has become popular through the praise of its 2011 film adaptation. The novel follows Skeeter, a young white girl, as she works on a novel that profiles the lives of the black women working as “help” in her small hometown in Mississippi. The novel offers insight into the lives of black women during the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the rights and wrongs of being a white ally. 

5. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

A token of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, Hurston’s novel explores the possibilities of the life of a black woman. Main character Janie tears away from the stereotypes and boundaries of being a black woman to follow her own dreams instead of those of the men around her. Imperative to understanding the tribulations of black culture, Their Eyes Were Watching God opens a world of understanding for today’s celebrators of Black History Month. 

Features reporter Julianna Lowe can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julianna on social media at @juliannalowe.