African American Read-in

The National African American Read-In is an effort to encourage communities to read African American books and authors. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month. This initiative has reached more than 6 million participants around the world.

We are partnering with the Topeka Chapter of the Links, Inc. to hold a Read-In at the library Sat, Feb 4, 1-3pm in Marvin Auditorium. Share and listen to your favorite African American children’s books. Links members will read excerpts or full stories to promote literacy and showcase positive images of self, history and community. You’ll have a chance to win a book, and enjoy music and refreshments. Register to join us.

What is a Read-In?

During February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting an African American Read-In. Hosting an event can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers.

What do you do for an African American Read-In? 

The format of these events varies widely, but all events have a few things in common:

  • They share texts written by African American authors.
  • Participants either listen to or provide the readings.
  • Event organizers document number of people who attend in the Read-In “report card” as a measure of the global reach of this program each year.

Events may include

  • Readings by authors
  • Poetry slams
  • Musical acts, performances, reenactments or plays
  • Film screenings including discussions of paired texts
  • A common reading in advance like a book club
  • Writing or art-making
  • Featured guests such as local leaders or community heroes
  • Book drives to collect books by African American authors to share with schools
  • Activities for young children (e.g., bedtime stories)
  • Media coverage to raise the profile of local authors
  • Ongoing community outreach after the event that spreads the love of literacy
  • Awards of recognition for African American authors within the community

Recommended books

It’s a sign of the success of programs like the African American Read-In and other campaigns to support diverse authors that each year there are more books to recommend. One important note to consider: the African American Read-In was started specifically to create a bigger audience for African American authors. So in the spirit of supporting this core mission, these booklists only include books written by African American authors.

View complete list

View complete list

View complete list

View complete list

Here are some booklists from previous years that might spark your interest, but these are by no means comprehensive.

Create your Black History Month booklist

You can add the books you would like to read to your library “For Later” bookshelf or create your own booklist. Log into your library account using your library card number. To add to your bookshelf select “For Later Shelf” in your account dropdown menu (top right corner of the page). To create a booklist, which you can share for all library users to see, select “Lists” in your account dropdown menu.

As a veteran genealogist, I love teaching and sharing digital family history and genealogy techniques and helping people solve genealogy problems. Being the Genealogy Librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is so much fun! I work to promote a greater knowledge of family, history, and heritage.

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