The Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle 2018 is so excited about our June-July reading plans.
Every year, at the close of one season, we begin combing through literary prizes, listening to what our teen advisory groups are reading, and looking at new offerings on bookstore shelves.
This past year in the United States has been an almost daily challenge against the humanity of people who are not powerful images of power, coercion, and control.
When the president made disparaging remarks against immigrants from those “shithole countries” that include my ancestral homeland, I was not surprised by his depravity but encouraged to keep doing what I have been doing for ten years, read about and tell our own story.
This summer, we will be reading nine weeks (we get a bonus week in July, typically this is an eight week program) of literature featuring writers and stories from Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Ghana, Nigeria, and AfroDiasporan writers from London and the United States that sing to the resilience, love, and beautiful creativity of a people who have overcome so much.
There is power in telling our own story and encouraging young people to do the same. Each generation has a new set of challenges and opportunities to sing the story of our people. Literature is the tool that we use at Hurston & Hughes to celebrate each other.
Come and read with us.
Writers we are reviewing include Isabel Allende, Marlon James, Jesmyn Ward, Edwidge Danticat, Andrea Levy, Zadie Smith, Jacqueline Woodson, Nic Stone, Imbolo Mbue, Yaa Gyasi, Taiye Selasi, Jason Reynolds, Jamaica Kinkaid, and Austin Clarke, among others.
The criteria we use is the writer must be of Afrodiasporan heritage, the story must not be stereotypically violent, sexist, or disparaging, it must be suitable for middle-high school students, must be well written (which is why we do not include “urban” or “street” fiction that is often by white writers passed off as black high school fiction) and feature opportunities to discuss the story in relation to the world the teens encounter.
Our readers are primarily Black students in central and west county St. Louis, although the literary circle is open to any Black teen in the region. We meet in area coffee shops, bookstores, museums, and libraries that lend itself to creative discussions. The cost for the ten-week session is $50. Discounts are given for family groups. Each student purchases or checks out the book we will read. The goal is that each participant adds five new books to their home library and gains a greater interest in reading.
Registration information and reading lists will come out in May.
As usual, we will include summer reading assignments from area middle and high schools with one week set aside for them to complete writing assignments.
June 5-July 31, 2018. Tuesday evenings, location and time TBD.