New Year, New Chapter for Freedom Friends Book Club

Just some of the towering stack we considered for the Freedom Friends Book Club 2022 list.

We had such a great year exploring diverse authors and connecting with fellow book nerds! Thanks to everyone who read along with us in 2021—we hope you discovered some new favorites. Special thanks to our partners at Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library (huge shoutout to teen librarian Sarah Rust) and at Elementz (Camille Jones, we love you), and to all the youth facilitators who led our monthly book chats. Your perspectives took us deeper into these radical reads and made us curious for so much more.

For 2022, though, we’re shifting our approach. Each month we’ll spotlight a particular title, plus a few “Bonus Stack” selections on similar themes, inviting student readers to give us their own hot takes. Instead of monthly Zoom chats, we’ll host occasional Freedom Friends meetups at various community locations, with fun activities, author talks and book giveaways, and we’ll find other creative ways to engage readers around these titles. Stay tuned here and on our social channels for all the details; we’ll also post events on the WVXU Facebook page.

And now, drumroll, here’s our list of featured books for 2022, based on recommendations from you, our student program participants, Cincinnati Public Radio colleagues, and our community collaborators. All these titles should be accessible in print and digital formats at the Cincinnati Public Library, and we’ll keep feeding the Little Free Library at Elementz. We hope you’ll keep reading!

Freedom Friends Book Club 2022 Selections

January: Raybearer, by Jordan Ifueko

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

February: Black Boy Joy, edited by Kwame Mbalia

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

March: How Much of These Hills Is Gold, by C Pam Zhang 

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

April: Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

May: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, by Kimberly Jones

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

June: Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression, by Iris Gottlieb

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

July: A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

August: This Is My America, by Kim Johnson

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

September: King and the Dragonflies, by Kacen Callender

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

October: The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary, by NoNieqa Ramos

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

November: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, by Cynthia Leitich Smith 

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

December: We Are Not Free, by Traci Chee

Click here for Cincinnati Public Library link

Bonus Stack Selections

Some of these books are either not readily available at the library (yet), are by authors we’ve spotlighted before (we want to spread the attention around), or are geared to younger/older readers than our target teen audience—but we wanted to make sure they were on your radar. We’ll share some of these and more “Bonus Stack Selections” with each month’s featured title, because… you can never have too many books!

Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Rise Up: How You Can Join the Fight Against White Supremacy, by Crystal M. Fleming

Marvel Comics “Indigenous Voices” and “Heritage” series

When Stars Are Scattered, by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson

Queer: A Graphic History, by Meg John Barker

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo 

American Street, Ibi Oboi

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez

One of the Good Ones, by Maika Moulite

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt, by Varian Johnson

1619 Project/Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the World, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News, by Cindy L. Otis