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Celebrating Black Voices in Canadian Literature

This February, as we dive into Black History Month, we’ve selected a range of literary gems from Black Canadian authors. Our chosen narratives, from the textured stories in Zalika Reid-Benta’s “Frying Plantain” to the critical insights on systemic racism in Desmond Cole’s “The Skin We’re In,” aim to enlighten and inspire. For our younger audience, “Africville” by Shauntay Grant paints a vivid picture of Black community vibrancy and resilience. We invite you to explore these powerful voices with us, celebrating their contributions to our cultural fabric not only this month but all year round.

Adult Readings:

  1. “Frying Plantain” by Zalika Reid-Benta
    A captivating portrayal of growing up between two cultures, this debut novel explores the complexities of family dynamics, cultural expectations, and the struggles of second-generation Canadians.
  2. “The Skin We’re In” by Desmond Cole
    A powerful examination of racism in Canada, chronicling a year in the fight against racial injustice and challenging the myth of Canada as a post-racial nation.
  3. “The Rage of Dragons” by Evan Winter
    An epic fantasy set in a war-torn world, where a young man seeks vengeance and power in a society built on conflict and class division.
  4. “River Mumma” by Zalika Reid-Benta
    An exhilarating contemporary fantasy about a young Black woman’s mythical quest through Toronto, blending urban life with folklore.

Frying Plantains by Zalika Reid-Benta

Teen & Young Adult:

  1. “Like Home” by Louisa Onomé
    A poignant story of community, friendship, and the impact of change and vandalism in a tight-knit neighborhood.
  2. “Boys and Girls Screaming” by Kern Carter
    A touching narrative about teens navigating trauma and finding healing through shared experiences and support.


  1. “My Hair is Beautiful” by Shauntay Grant
    A joyful celebration of natural hair and self-love, perfect for young readers to explore the beauty in diversity.
  2. “Africville” by Shauntay Grant
    A nostalgic look at the historic Black community of Africville, through the eyes of a young girl connecting with her heritage.
  3. “Beautiful You, Beautiful Me” by Tasha Spillett-Sumner
    A story about identity and belonging, exploring the bond between a multiracial child and her mother.
  4. “A Place Inside of Me” by Zetta Elliott
    An affirming narrative poem about a Black child’s journey through a range of emotions over the course of a year.
  5. “Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged” by Jody Nyasha Warner
    The inspiring true story of Viola Desmond’s stand against racial segregation in Nova Scotia, encouraging readers to fight injustice.
  6. “I Promise” by Catherine Hernandez
    A heartwarming depiction of queer family life, celebrating the love and challenges of parenting.

Viola Desmond won't be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner & Richard Rudnicki

Reflecting on our journey through Black Canadian literature during Black History Month highlights the transformative power of stories. They open a window to the diverse experiences and contributions of Black Canadians, urging us to embrace growth and learning. These narratives, from introspective adult novels to enriching children’s books, invite us to continue exploring and valuing Black voices throughout the year and beyond. As we turn the page on this chapter, we look forward to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich tapestry of stories that shape our community. Happy reading!

As we reflect on the stories and voices shared in our exploration of Black Canadian literature, we recognize the importance of mental health and support within our community. To further our commitment to wellbeing, we encourage our readers to explore our comprehensive list of mental health resources specifically curated for the Black community. These resources are designed to offer support, understanding, and pathways to healing. Let’s continue to uplift and care for each other, in every aspect of our lives.