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Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth

Research and Practice

by Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Pauletta Brown Bracy, and Casey H. Rawson, Editors


In 2013, 82% of African American fourth graders did not demonstrate proficiency on the NAEP reading assessment.

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Cover image for Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth

October 2016

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 250
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Children's and Young Adult Services/Multicultural Populations
  Children's and Young Adult Programs/Reading Promotion and Literacy

This important book is a call to action for the library community to address the literacy and life outcome gaps impacting African American youth. It provides strategies that enable school and public librarians to transform their services, programs, and collections to be more responsive to the literacy strengths, experiences, and needs of African American youth.

According to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), only 18 percent of African American fourth graders and 17 percent of African American eighth graders performed at or above proficiency in reading in 2013. This book draws on research from various academic fields to explore the issues surrounding African American literacy and to aid in developing culturally responsive school and library programs with the goal of helping to close the achievement gap and improve the quality of life for African American youth.

The book merges the work of its three authors along with the findings of other researchers and practitioners, highlighting exemplary programs, such as the award-winning Pearl Bailey Library Program, the Maker Jawn initiative at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate writing institute in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, among others. Readers will understand how these culturally responsive programs put theory and research-based best practices into local action and see how to adapt them to meet the needs of their communities.


  • Clarifies the role of public and school librarians in meeting the literacy needs of African American youth
  • Brings together research findings on the literacy strengths and needs of African American youth and best practices for librarians seeking to improve their services to this population
  • Provides specific examples of successful programs for working with African American youth that can be adapted by other school or public libraries
  • Creates an ongoing vehicle for collaborative learner-centered relationships between public and school librarians serving the same community
Author Info

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, PhD, is professor at the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of the 2013 and 2014 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award Citation for her essays on the topic of African American youth, literacy instruction, and text choices for services to multicultural populations.

Pauletta Brown Bracy, PhD, is director of the Office of University Accreditation and professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. Her areas of specialization are school media librarianship and children's and young adult services and resources.

Casey H. Rawson is doctoral candidate and teaching assistant at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her experience includes teaching middle school science in urban, high-poverty schools, and she was a co-recipient of a 2013 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award, along with Sandra Hughes-Hassell.

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

Across Cultures cover imageMulticultural Literature and Response cover imageIntegrating African American Literature in the Library and Classroom cover image
African Legends, Myths, and Folktales for Readers Theatre cover imageDiversity Programming for Digital Youth cover imageSchool Reform and the School Library Media Specialist cover image

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