69 books like The Lions of Little Rock

By Kristin Levine,

Here are 69 books that The Lions of Little Rock fans have personally recommended if you like The Lions of Little Rock. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Nickel Boys

Ginger Pinholster Author Of Snakes of St. Augustine

From my list on featuring Florida in a big way.

Who am I?

My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, describes an unconventional love story served up with a large side of Florida weirdness. My first novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. My short fiction and essays have appeared in Pangyrus, Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from Eckerd College and the M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Currently, I’m a writer for a university in Daytona Beach, Florida. A resident of Ponce Inlet, I began volunteering with the Volusia-Flagler Sea Turtle Patrol in 2018.

Ginger's book list on featuring Florida in a big way

Ginger Pinholster Why did Ginger love this book?

The devastating story of two boys unjustly sentenced to serve time in a nightmarish juvenile reform school, The Nickel Boys won a Pulitzer Prize and became a New York Times bestseller.

It is a must-read for anyone sampling literary works featuring Florida. The boys in the story, Elwood and Turner, endure and witness hellish abuse at the Nickel Academy. The boys’ haunting story, exquisitely told by Colson Whitehead, is based on Florida’s real-life Dozier school where thousands of children were tortured, raped, and murdered for more than a century.

Whitehead’s unflinching descriptions of terror and abuse can be tough to take, but they serve an important purpose, by forcing the reader to confront the hellish reality that was America under Jim Crow laws. Long after the last page is turned, if ever, this novel won’t leave you.

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Nickel Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this Pulitzer Prize-winning follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way…

Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Galynne Matichuk Author Of Girls, Guys, and a Tangle of Ties

From my list on telling a story to touch the heart.

Who am I?

I have been a voracious reader all my life. As a child, my happy place was the public library. I realized quickly that not all novels had the same effect. Most stories were enjoyable, but there were some books that told a story to make a point. These were stories with characters that I couldn’t forget, and I was challenged, encouraged, and inspired by what I read. These novels changed me for the better. I am grateful for authors who wrote stories with purpose. Now I have an opportunity to tell a story that will have an impact and make a difference in the lives of those who read it. 

Galynne's book list on telling a story to touch the heart

Galynne Matichuk Why did Galynne love this book?

This book has fallen in and out of favor over the years, but I applaud and defend it as one of the most brilliant and moving books ever written.

There is something powerful about walking beside a young child and seeing the world through her eyes. Maycomb is not a perfect town. The neighbors and townsfolk are not perfect people. There is much to confuse in the court case taken on by Atticus Finch.

But as Scout tries to make sense of injustice in a broken world with broken people, she learns about character, choice, and courage. She will also find loyalty, love, and hope in the most unexpected of places.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…

Book cover of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Rachel Bithell Author Of Brave Bird at Wounded Knee: A Story of Protest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

From my list on middle grade that feature inspiring teachers.

Who am I?

Teachers and children’s writers are some of each other’s biggest fans, and I have been both, so I couldn’t resist putting a teacher in my book. Besides that, teachers are very useful characters because they can make kids in books do things like write reports or keep a journal. Initially, my main character, Patsy, doesn’t especially like her teacher, Miss Ashman. Patsy thinks she’s too strict. But by the end of the book, she realizes that challenging students and having high expectations are some of the things that make a great teacher. If you’ve ever had a teacher you loved, you’ll want to check out the books on this list. 

Rachel's book list on middle grade that feature inspiring teachers

Rachel Bithell Why did Rachel love this book?

I immediately fell in love with Cassie Logan, the spunky, resourceful main character in this classic novel. But by the end of the book, I had as much affection for her courageous mother, Mrs. Logan, a teacher who, in depression-era Mississippi, runs a school for African-American kids.

Among her pupils are some her own children, which I know from personal experience can be complicated. Of all the powerful themes in this book, an important, but often overlooked one is the power of teachers and schools to build community and respect for self and others.

Readers should know this book, written by a Black woman based on her childhood experiences, uses strong racial epithets, and young readers could benefit from thoughtful discussion with an adult.

By Mildred D. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The stunning repackage of a timeless Newbery Award Winner, with cover art by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winner Kadir Nelson!

With the land to hold them together, nothing can tear the Logans apart.

Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year-the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black-to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride, for no…

Book cover of The Bluest Eye

Stephane Dunn Author Of Snitchers

From my list on Black girl coming of age everybody should read.

Who am I?

I was a book-loving Black Girl and am now a Black woman, professor-writer, and lifelong books and popular culture junkie. As a young reader, I marveled at the storytelling in books that took us into the diverse lives and deep interior of teen girls - from Are You There God It’s Me Margaret to especially ones like the five books I name which place Black girls and women at the center of the narrative. In most of the films and writings that I teach and my own book Snitchers, there’s some tragedy and pain, some blues, and perspectives that add to the truth and richness of our human and American story. 

Stephane's book list on Black girl coming of age everybody should read

Stephane Dunn Why did Stephane love this book?

Unfortunately, Toni Morrison’s first major novel The Bluest Eye has long been targeted on banned book lists, which is unfortunate.

Told through the narration of Claudia - a Black girl character after my own heart with the same on-point, justifiably defiant thinking I had as a young girl, we get the story of Pecola and a community that is shaped by both the history of white supremacy and it’s own cultural richness and texture.

Morrison’s writing is so visual and visceral, and the storytelling so honest it spoke to my own war against Black girl invisibility in my own world. I’ve read it many times, and it still emotionally shakes me as so much memorable writing and stories tend to do.

And like other books by this Nobel Prize winner author, The Bluest Eye should be required reading for advanced grade high school students rather than banned. 

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Bluest Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the searing first novel from the celebrated author of Beloved, which immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in post-Depression 1940s Ohio.

Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterised her writing.


Book cover of Warriors Don't Cry: The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High

Clara Silverstein Author Of White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation

From my list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism.

Who am I?

As a white child bused to African American schools in Richmond, Virginia in the 1970s, I unwittingly stepped into a Civil Rights experiment that would shatter social norms and put me on a path to learning history not taught in textbooks. At first, I never expected to look back at this fraught time. Then I had children. The more I tried to tell them about my past, the more I wanted to understand the context. Why did we fall so short of America’s founding ideals? I have been reading and writing about American history ever since, completing a master’s degree and publishing books, essays, and poems.

Clara's book list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism

Clara Silverstein Why did Clara love this book?

One of nine Black students to integrate the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, Beals faces threats to her life as well as constant cruelty not only from white people but also from members of her own community, who disapprove of her decision. Her book gives us an unflinching account of what it feels like to be inside the maelstrom. Education seems almost beside the point when she needs protection from the National Guard. Most resonant to me, Beals admits that being a warrior for social change is exhausting. “Sometimes,” she writes in her diary, “I just need to be a girl.”

By Melba Pattillo Beals,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Warriors Don't Cry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

In this essential autobiographical account by one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most powerful figures, Melba Pattillo Beals of the Little Rock Nine explores not only the oppressive force of racism, but the ability of young people to change ideas of race and identity.

In 1957, well before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Melba Pattillo Beals and eight other teenagers became iconic symbols for the Civil Rights Movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow in the American South as they integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown…

Book cover of Sugar

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Who am I?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

Once upon a time, I was the founder and president of a book club, Literary Ladies Alliance. Many moons ago, LLA chose Sugar as our monthly reading selection. I was absolutely floored by this unlikely, unconventional heroine of the same name as the novel set in a small southern town that wasn’t ready for this seductive storm, i.e. Sugar. I found her shockingly bold and beautifully unapologetic despite her disreputable past and “questionable morals.” She hungered for love, endured dangerous risks and scandal; and yet for me, Sugar moved with an air of voluptuous freedom that captivated my church girl imagination and respect. While Dianne McKinney Whetstone is my favorite author, Sugar is undoubtedly my favorite novel! I’ve read the book twice and would readily devour it again for its captivating journey back in time and its uncharacteristic, boldly unforgettable heroine. 

By Bernice L. McFadden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sugar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

20th Anniversary Edition—with a New Foreword by Kimberly Elise

A novel by a critically acclaimed voice in contemporary fiction, praised by Ebony for its “unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end.”

A young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women's lives—and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with…

Book cover of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Lynn Alsup Author Of Tinderbox: One Family's Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love

From my list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world.

Who am I?

As a young social worker, I left the world I knew and moved into violent urban centers and traveled the developing world. The suffering and beauty entranced me. Questions reverberated in me: What does it mean to be part of the vast human community? How can I live most fully? When I adopted children, violence and difference confronted me not “out there” but at home. I wrestled, shocked by my own judgment and narrowness—until I accepted in my bones the myriad ways to live a remarkable life. Curiosity became my superpower. Tinderbox, my unflinching memoir, invites readers into my family’s brutal and beautiful transformation through embracing neurodiversity. 

Lynn's book list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world

Lynn Alsup Why did Lynn love this book?

Angelou’s words sat me in a comfy chair as if in a favorite movie theater as the lights dimmed.

The world unrolling before me enveloped me from the red dirt of Arkansas in the 1930s all the way to the California sun. Her prose read like poetry and led me into each space she inhabited, including the ones in her mind. She slowed down the moment and let me ponder—no sideways judgments or explanations.

Her experience of childhood sexual assault ripped through me as my own had. She didn’t shy away from the horrors or beauty of life as a young Black woman finding her place in the world but projected them onto the screen in my mind. They’ve lingered there a long time.

By Maya Angelou,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy,achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.

Book cover of Love Times Infinity

Catherine Adel West Author Of The Two Lives of Sara

From my list on the strengths of found family.

Who am I?

Catherine Adel West was born and raised in Chicago, IL where she currently resides. She graduated with both her Bachelor and Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois - Urbana. Her debut novel, Saving Ruby King, was published in June 2020. Her work is also published in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, Better than Starbucks, Doors Ajar, 805 Lit + Art, The Helix Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and Gay MagazineThe Two Lives of Sara is her sophomore novel.

Catherine's book list on the strengths of found family

Catherine Adel West Why did Catherine love this book?

Sometimes the way you’re brought into the world is a burden you feel you’re meant to carry. This is something a teenager named Michie takes with her into the relationships she develops. It’s the bold and brave love of those around her, not always tied by blood, helping Michie to see the value she has, to not just herself, but the world at large.

By Lane Clarke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love Times Infinity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The swoon of Nicola Yoon meets the emotional punch of Elizabeth Acevedo in this layered rom-com that answers big questions about identity, family, and love.

High school junior Michie is struggling to define who she is for her scholarship essays, her big shot at making it into Brown as a first-generation college student. The prompts would be hard for anyone, but Michie's been estranged from her mother since she was seven and her concept of family has long felt murky.

Enter new kid and basketball superstar Derek de la Rosa. He is very cute, very talented, and very much has…

Book cover of Jada Jones: Rock Star

Laurie Calkhoven Author Of Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom

From my list on laugh-out-loud chapters.

Who am I?

I am a former book publishing professional turned full-time children’s book author. I’ve never swallowed a frog, battled imaginary bears, or had a slime war with ghosts like my character, Roosevelt Banks, but I have written more than fifty books for children. These range from beginning readers (You Should Meet Misty Copeland) and chapter books (Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training) to middle grade historical novels (Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1775).

Laurie's book list on laugh-out-loud chapters

Laurie Calkhoven Why did Laurie love this book?

With pockets full of rocks and a purple-dragon T-shirt, science-loving Jada Jones makes her debut in this early chapter book series. When her best friend moves away, school is the last place Jada wants to be, until her teacher announces a project about rocks and minerals. The only problem—she’s in a group with two BFF’s who don’t seem to like her or her ideas. Readers will love reading about Jada’s journey to new friendships and becoming a fourth-grade rock star—setting her up for new challenges in subsequent titles. I love the fact that Lyons created a science-loving girl.

By Kelly Starling Lyons, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jada Jones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.

When Jada Jones's best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She'd much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada's teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she's in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn't seem to like any of Jada's ideas. She doesn't seem to like…

Book cover of Take Back the Block

Emily Barth Isler Author Of AfterMath

From my list on for parents to read to kids for family discussions.

Who am I?

I started writing for kids and teens before I became a parent myself, but now, seeing these kinds of stories from both perspectives, I’m even more passionate about helping foster conversations among families, about the things that are hard to talk about. In the time of pandemics and global warming and school shootings, not to mention the access the internet provides, kids have more questions and concerns than ever. I’ve found, both in my research and in practice, that being honest with kids in a way that they can understand and process is a true gift to them.

Emily's book list on for parents to read to kids for family discussions

Emily Barth Isler Why did Emily love this book?

Giles does a wonderful job with a current hot topic that might come up a lot for kids: gentrification. Take Back the Block made me want to leap into action, and that’s a pretty magical thing to be able to say about a book! Not only did I want to read more about these characters, but I wanted to get involved in my own city to preserve homes and mitigate gentrification. Change is constant, and kids will love this book for talking about the changes we can control and those we cannot, and how to see the difference. Parents will appreciate a way to concretely illustrate what gentrification is, and to have honest conversations about it with their kids.

By Chrystal D. Giles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take Back the Block as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book made me want to step aside, hand over the mic, and listen to Wes. A must-read." --Mariama J. Lockington, author of For Black Girls Like Me

Brand-new kicks, ripped denim shorts, Supreme tee--

Wes Henderson has the best style in sixth grade. That--and hanging out with his crew (his best friends since little-kid days) and playing video games--is what he wants to be thinking about at the start of the school year, not the protests his parents are always dragging him to.

But when a real estate developer makes an offer to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood Wes…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Arkansas, school, and African Americans?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Arkansas, school, and African Americans.

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