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
February: Black Boy Joy, edited by Kwame Mbalia
March: How Much of These Hills Is Gold, by C Pam Zhang
April: Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley
May: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, by Kimberly Jones
June: Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression, by Iris Gottlieb
July: A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman
August: This Is My America, by Kim Johnson
September: King and the Dragonflies, by Kacen Callender
October: The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary, by NoNieqa Ramos
November: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, by Cynthia Leitich Smith
December: We Are Not Free, by Traci Chee
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