A moving tribute to a strong Black mother, libraries, and the power of reading and of seeing oneself in books, by the author of Chef Edna
Every summer, Mama takes her two daughters to the library to pick out books. Not just any books—books about Black people. In the 1960s, such stories were not taught in schools. If there were any books at all, they were often shelved in a separate part of the library. But that didn’t stop two sisters from making a beeline to that very spot and gathering up the library’s limit: ten books each. Back at home, the sisters and their mother retreat to their favorite reading spots, and the older sister is soon running to freedom alongside Harriet Tubman; reading poetry with Paul Lawrence Dunbar; listening to Dr. Martin Luther King say, “I have a dream.” In these books, the older sister sees the struggles, the strength, the love, the hope, and the happiness of people who look like her and never gave up on their dreams. She sees herself.