Book picks similar to
A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich by Alice Childress


young-adult
fiction
realistic-fiction
african-american

That Was Then, This Is Now


S.E. Hinton - 1971
    Now things are changing. Bryon's growing up, spending a lot of time with girls, and thinking seriously about who he wants to be. Mark still just lives for the thrill of the moment. The two are growing apart - until Bryon makes a shocking discovery about Mark. Then Bryon faces a terrible decision - one that will change both of their lives forever.

Iggie's House


Judy Blume - 1970
    Iggie was gone, moved to Tokyo. And there was Winnie, cracking her gum on Grove Street, where she'd always lived, with no more best friend and two weeks left of summer.Then the Garber family moved into Iggie's house—two boys, Glenn and Herbie, and Tina, their little sister. The Garbers were black and Grove Street was white and always had been. Winnie, a welcoming committee of one, set out to make a good impression and be a good neighbor. That's why the trouble started.Glenn and Herbie and Tina didn't want a "good neighbor." They wanted a friend.

The Other Half of My Heart


Sundee T. Frazier - 2010
    Frazier. When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America.  Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out the truth.

Double Dutch


Sharon M. Draper - 2002
    Delia would die if she couldn’t jump—but she’s hiding something could keep her off the team next year. Delia’s friend Randy has a secret too, one that has him lonely and scared. And while Delia and Randy struggle to hide parts of themselves, their school is abuzz with rumors about what malicious mischief the terrible Tolliver twins—who just may have a hidden agenda of their own—are planning. Delia and Randy’s secrets collide on what should be the happiest day of Delia’s life, and the collision threatens to destroy their friendship. Why can’t life be as easy for Delia as Double Dutch?

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This


Jacqueline Woodson - 1994
    Marie, the only black girl in the eighth grade willing to befriend her white classmate Lena, discovers that Lena's father is doing horrible things to her in private.

The Chocolate War


Robert Cormier - 1974
    But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier's groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.A New York Times Outstanding Book of the YearAn ALA Best Book for Young AdultsA School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Getting Near to Baby


Audrey Couloumbis - 1999
    Willa Jo went up to watch the sunrise, and Little Sister followed, like she always does. But by mid-morning, they are still up on that roof, and soon it’s clear it wasn’t just the sunrise that brought them there. The trouble is, coming down would mean they’d have to explain, and they just can’t find the words. This is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking, story about sisters, about grief, and about healing.  Two girls must come to terms with the death of their baby sister, their mother’s unshakable depression, and the ridiculously controlling aunt who takes them in and means well but just doesn’t understand children. Willa Jo has to try and make things right in their new home, but she and Aunt Patty keep butting heads. Until the morning the two girls climb up to the roof of her house. Aunt Patty tries everything she can think of to get them down, but in the end, the solution is miraculously simple.A Newbery Honor BookAn ALA Notable BookA School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

A Day No Pigs Would Die


Robert Newton Peck - 1972
    The boy is mauled by Apron, the neighbor's ailing cow whom he helps, alone, to give birth. The grateful farmer brings him a gift—a newborn pig. His father at first demurs ("We thank you, Brother Tanner," said Papa, "but it's not the Shaker Way to take frills for being neighborly. All that Robert done was what any farmer would do for another") but is persuaded. Rob keeps the pig, names her, and gives her his devotion... He wrestles with grammar in the schoolhouse. He hears rumors of sin. He is taken—at last—to the Rutland Fair. He broadens his heart to make room even for Baptists. And when his father, who can neither read nor cipher, whose hands are bloodied by his trade, whose wisdom and mastery of country things are bred in the bone, entrusts Rob with his final secret, the boy makes the sacrifice that completes his passage into manhood.All is told with quiet humor and simplicity. Here are lives lived by earthy reason—in a novel that, like a hoedown country fiddler's tune, rings at the same time with both poignancy and cheer.

The Pigman


Paul Zindel - 1968
    Virtually overnight, almost against their will, the two befriended the lonely old man; it wasn't long before they were more comfortable in his house than their own. But now Mr. Pignati is dead. And for John and Lorraine, the only way to find peace is to write down their friend's story - the story of the Pigman.

Brown Girl, Brownstones


Paule Marshall - 1959
    "Remarkable for its courage, its color, and its natural control." --The New Yorker "An unforgettable novel written with pride and anger, with rebellion and tears." --New York Herald Tribune Set in Brooklyn during the Great Depression and World War II, Brown Girl, Brownstones chronicles the efforts of Barbadian immigrants to surmount poverty and racism and to make their new country home. Selina Boyce is torn between the opposing aspirations of her parents: her hardworking, ambitious mother longs to buy a brownstone row house while her easygoing father prefers to dream of effortless success and his native island's lushness. Featuring a new foreword by Edwidge Danticat, this coming-of-age tale grapples with identity, sexuality, and changing values in a new country, as a young woman must reconcile tradition with potential and change.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Sherman Alexie - 2007
    Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.With a foreward by Markus Zusak & interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney

Fast Sam, Cool Clyde, and Stuff


Walter Dean Myers - 1975
    Cool Clyde, Fast Sam, Gloria, BB, Angel and Maria, Chalky and Carnation Charley - they grew close that one eventful year, and nothing was ever like it again. That was the year that modern science got them all in jail; the year Stuff fell in love and was unfaithful; the year Cool Clyde and Fast Sam won the dance contest - almost.In this funny and energetic book, Walter Dean Myers brings to life with warmth and good humor an unusual group of boys and girls, who together grow to know the meaning of friendship.

The Lions of Little Rock


Kristin Levine - 2012
    Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family. But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

Sounder


William H. Armstrong - 1969
    Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day.When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.This classic novel shows the courage, love, and faith that bind an African-American family together despite the racism and inhumanity they face. Readers who enjoy timeless dog stories such as Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows will find much to love in Sounder.Supports the Common Core State Standards

Black Brother, Black Brother


Jewell Parker Rhodes - 2020
    Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbed the "Black Brother," Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient. When an incident with "King" Alan leads to Donte's arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep's fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.