Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” The written word can transport readers up and out of and beyond their current circumstances, places, moments in history. Even in the best of times, books engage our minds, invite us into the lives of others and offer a kind of escapism from our daily realities. But now, at a time when most of us are isolated at home by a global pandemic, the unique gifts of books are more essential than ever.
In an effort to support local authors and the independent bookstores that carry their work — and to help you get through social distancing in the days ahead — ArtsATL has compiled a list of books we think would make great picks for your #PandemicBookClub.
Today, we look at children’s books and poetry. On Friday, we’ll continue with the best in fiction and nonfiction.
CHILDREN’S/YOUNG ADULT BOOKS
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Engage the minds of little ones with Ada Twist, Scientist, inspired by groundbreaking real-life scientists Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace. The book celebrates diversity, STEM education and the power of girls. (Bonus: Check out Ada Twist, Scientist, as read by an astronaut in space as part of Storytime from Space, a project of the Global Space Education Foundation). Buy it from Little Shop of Stories.
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
For YA lovers, there’s Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry, a haunting tale of four Latinx sisters. It’s a story of the supernatural, of revenge, of empowerment — a kind of Virgin Suicides cum Little Women that centers on diverse characters and is described by Goodreads as “one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.” Buy it from Charis Books and More.
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel
Atlanta author Breanna J. McDaniel beautifully redraws an often violently charged phrase into one of love, joy and play in Hands Up! Her young black main character lifts her hands up to the sun, her hands up for a hug, hands up for high fives, hands up like airplane wings, hands up in powerful resistance. Buy it from Charis Books and More.
How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen
A great way to start a conversation with children about experiencing illness. How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? helps put fears about getting sick and going to the doctor to rest. Yolen’s book, illustrated by Mark Teague, is about a dinosaur who gets the flu and learns about drinking lots of juice, getting lots of rest, being good at the doctor’s office “’cause doctor knows best.” Buy it from Little Shop of Stories.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Jericho Brown’s collection was a National Book Award finalist, but more than that, it’s an affecting lyrical balm for uncertain times. Brown uses verse to explore the myriad ways we’ve become accustomed to the big violence and small evils that plague our everyday lives — from the workplace to the classroom to the movie theater. The poems in The Tradition “interrupt complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither — or survive.” Buy it from Charis Books and More
Midnight in a Perfect World by Collin Kelley
Atlanta poet Collin Kelley’s Midnight in a Perfect World is a moody, atmospheric exploration of big themes such as love and desire, located in the beautiful mundanities of places like Tesco and the frozen food aisle. He writes in a lyrical, beautiful style with precise language, his poems transporting but accessible — perfect for wanting to be taken somewhere else while staying where you are. Buy it from Eagle Eye Books.
Book of Levitations by Anne Champion and Jenny Sadre-Orafai
These poems have been called spells, rituals, prayers and gifts by those who’ve read them, all a kind of word for magic. That’s what Anne Champion and Jenny Sadre-Orafai have crafted with their verses, poems that explore “boundaries defied and bodies in rebellion” in a way that feels mystic and specific. Order it via IndieBound.
Still Life With Mother and Knife: Poems by Chelsea Rathburn
Chelsea Rathburn, Georgia’s poet laureate, released Still Life With Mother and Knife to much acclaim in 2019. In it, she considers the female body as an object of art and violence, lends poetic verse to the experiences of postpartum depression, explores the fears of children and the potential failings of motherhood. It’s raw, beautiful and rhythmic, the book Rathburn says she wanted to read as a new mother. Buy it from Eagle Eye Books.
In times like these, when we are separated by necessity, ArtsATL is needed more than ever. Please consider a donation so we can continue to highlight Atlanta’s creative community during this unprecedented time.