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10 Crucial Books for Your Practice of Raising Black Children & Youth

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of sitting down with a group of about ten people to talk about the practice of raising Black children, drawing from my recent research on dual-enrolled homeschooled African American children and my experience as a parent and educator. The participants included Black mothers, a father, an uncle, and grandparents. They shared their powerful stories as advocates for their children within their schools and two moms- mothers to newborns– shared their concerns of how to prepare their schooling journey with their new babies with so many overwhelming options to choose from. Our conversation revolved around supporting our gifted children, how to mobilize other parents within our communities and what some of our challenges have been on our parenting journey.

I was able to briefly share my recommended book list which I share below, with an additional book included based on the rave reviews from parents from yesterday’s round-table discussion. Be sure to add your own recommendations in the comment section.

The Warrior Method, Updated Edition: A Parents’ Guide to Rearing Healthy Black Boys

By Raymond Winbush, PhD

Face it. There are certain challenges that parents of Black boys endure that few environments prepare them for. Dr. Winbush explores the ways parents can support their sons in a society that openly rejects their humanity. The Warrior Method offers a “program designed for parents and teachers to help black boys become strong, self-reliant men.”

Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America

By Stacy Patton, PhD

The controversy will never end regarding whether to spank or not spank your child. What Dr. Patton does is bypass the controversy and offer a historical look at how whipping a child became a thing in the first place. Deconstructing the power paradigm of corporal punishment and presenting research indicating the psychological impact on young minds and bodies, Dr. Patton presents an informative read that advocates on behalf of the mental and physical welfare of children and families.

The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child

By Dr. Amos Wilson

Dr. Wilson said that if you are to do the right thing by your children, you are to study them and teach them their history. He said that psychology reflects a people’s history and experience. You can watch many videos of Dr. Wilson giving lectures before his death, like this one. I highly recommend also reading text by this great man who offered useful insight into the psycho-social development process of Black children.

Salvation: Black People and Love

By bell hooks

How do we learn how to love our children? We love as we have been loved. Author bell hooks writes this delicate offering that packs a wallop of honesty and truth, forcing us to confront our patterns of (un)loving.

Teaching to Trangress: Education as the practice of freedom

By bell hooks

This text was an eye-opening exploration for me as both a parent and educator. I was forced to reflect on how am I educating my daughter and my students in ways that they, in turn, actualize freedom in their everyday. Inspired by the transformative work of Paolo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, hooks, through autoethnography, shares her own journey as a teacher that has led her to understand how teaching can become liberatory practice.

How to Raise a Wild Child

By Scott D. Sampson

I haven’t read this book yet, but, two families present last night at my talk shared the ways this book offered ways to integrate nature into your parenting practice. One of the things I find very astonishing is the disconnect many of the young people I work with have with the natural world. Parents shared with me that the book offers ways to use nature as math manipulatives, conversation starters and critical thinking prompts.

We’re Born to Learn: Using the Brain’s Natural Learning Process to Create Today’s Curriculum

By Rita Smilkstein

This book was assigned as a textbook in one of my doctoral courses a couple of years ago and I recommend it now whenever given a chance. I utilize some of her suggestions within my classroom for the college courses I teach. Linking the way that our brain neurons work to how we learn, Dr. Smilkstein, a neuroscientist, offers invaluable suggestions on how to optimize retention of information and synthesizing of information.

From the Browder File

By Tony Browder

This was one of the first reading textbooks I assigned my 5th grader when we returned to homeschooling more than six years ago. Using it as a tool to discuss history and culture, it gave her context on how to write and read critical analysis while introducing her to ideas she was not apt to receive within a traditional school classroom. The late renowned scholar Asa Hilliard wrote the foreword to the book, saying about the book, “There is no amount of information alone which can correct all the problems…but, a large part of what we must do is to get our memories back in tact and regain our orientation. Brother Browder’s thought-provoking information” moves us from “disintegration to reintegration for our people”.


By Malcolm Gladwell

Ever wondered what that special something was that made some people seem more successful that others? Malcolm Gladwell, through interviews, observation and critical analysis offers a perspective on how indicators of success are measurable and not quite what you think. Some of the information may impact decisions on when to enroll your child in school, impact choices you will make when networking or choosing what resources are close by. One of my favorite books by Gladwell that I reference often.

No BS (Bad Stats): Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear About Black People

By Ivory A. Toldson

If you have ever agreed with the statement that there are more Black men in jail instead of in college, then this book might be the first book you need to purchase from this list. Dr. Toldson has compiled his essays into this informative book that debunks a lot of the faulty information that we have heard often about Black people in regards to education, family, and cultural heritage. Unapologetic in his assertions, Dr. Toldson offers in-depth reference lists at the end of each essay for further reading.

What books would you add to this list? Add them in the comments section.

Khadijah Z Ali-Coleman is founding editor of So Our Youth Aspire, an online resource since 2006. She is a homeschooling mom, researcher and educator currently serving as the 2020 Scholar-in-Residence at the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center. A homeschooling parent, she will be releasing a book soon based on her research on dual-enrolled African American home-schooled children.

Colleges That Don't Require SAT/ACT scores: What That Means for Homeschoolers

The latest news circulating regarding college admission is the large number of four-year colleges and universities that are considering college students who have not submitted SAT or ACT scores. That’s right, many colleges are becoming SAT (or ACT) optional schools. As a homeschooling parent, I was very excited to hear that news. But, of course, restrictions apply, and homeschoolers are the ones most restricted. Here are some of the main caveats I came across and thought important to share before you make the decision for your teen to by-pass standardized testing altogether.

  1. Most of the SAT (or ACT) optional colleges/universities are private schools.

What does it matter if the school is public vs. private you may ask? Well, it usually boils down to coins. Private schools are typically more expensive, offer less financial aid in the way of grants versus loans and private schools don’t have some of the transparency as public universities, funded by taxpayers, do. For some of you, that may not make a bit of difference, but, for my family, merit and income-based financial aid that is in the form of scholarship and grants are important to us and necessary. While it is great the SAT (or ACT) is optional at a lot of schools, I was specifically interested in the schools in our state and surrounding area.

2. Many of the SAT (or ACT) optional schools require a high school diploma or GED at the time of application.

I had a remarkably uncomfortable conversation at a college fair earlier this year around admission to a four-year institution. I was talking to a admissions rep from Loyola University in Maryland about their SAT optional policy, very interested. I mentioned that my daughter was a community college student and was going to be getting her associate’s degree in a year and a half. The woman had a lot of information to share until I told her that my daughter had just turned 16 and was homeschooled, as she was technically an 11th grader.

At that moment, the college rep told me that she would have to take the SAT even if she applied with an Associates degree in hand. I was confounded. How on earth did this make sense? She proceeded to make a very racist comment that for all she knew, my daughter’s associates degree could be in auto mechanics. I told her she was out of line with that comment because she could have easily just asked me instead of immediately assuming my daughter’s trajectory was not a college prep trajectory. I studied a trade in high school in a vocational school, so I was also offended by the insinuation that studying a trade also immediately makes you less ready for college. If the college is reviewing a student’s transcript and seeing that all of the courses taken correspond with comparable courses at their school for the same program, why is a score on the SAT necessary if courses have been completed and an associates degree has been received?

Well, I checked the policy for a number of schools that have an SAT (or ACT) optional policy, and most of them make the tests only optional for those in traditional schooling who earn a high school diploma or GED. What allows homeschoolers to bypass this is if they apply to schools as a transfer student and not a first-year student. What this does, however, is diminish a homeschooler’s chance to earn a merit scholarship or other awards for first-year students, awards that are typically more abundant when you are a first-year student versus a transfer student.

3. It is still difficult to get consistent information that is specific to homeschool students.

Because many schools don’t have specific policies in place for homeschooling students, the idea of a dual-enrolled homeschooled student– a student with college credits or an actual associate’s degree– may be a bit confounding for those who are supposed to answer your questions. Because it is hard to get consistent and accurate information at time, it is sometimes necessary to visit schools personally or speak to those in management positions before settling for the ambiguous website information or after speaking to the person answering the phone who has no idea what homeschooling is.

I wholeheartedly recommend you begin reaching out to schools as soon as you or your teen have an interest in applying and learning about SAT (or ACT) optional policies to get a clear idea on what their policies are. Policy is not ‘one size fit all’ when it comes to homeschool students. There is no federal policy regulation on homeschool and few states have policies that are clear or consistent across state schools. When you throw private universities and colleges into the mix, it becomes even more confusing.

In closing, research is key to understanding how the policies impact you. On the surface, making standardized testing optional sounds fantastic. But, upon closer inspection, the rules are a bit different for those of us who homeschool.

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman started So Our Youth Aspire (SOYA) in 2006. She is a cultural critic, educator and homeschooling mom. Learn more at khadijahali-coleman.com