A Girl Like Me, by Angela Johnson & Unloose My Heart, by Marcia Edwina Herman-Gidden, Chosen as the 2023 Alabama Great Reads Selections

A Girl Like Me, by Angela Johnson & Unloose My Heart, by Marcia Edwina Herman-Gidden, Chosen as the 2023 Alabama Great Reads Selections

The Alabama Center for the Book has selected A Girl Like Me  written by Angela Johnson, and illustrated by Nina Cruz, to be featured as the Alabama Children’s Great Reads selection, and Unloose My Heart , by Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens as the Alabama Adult Great Reads Selection for the 2023 National Book Festival.  This year the Festival will return to the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, on Saturday, Aug. 12, and is free for all to attend.  The festival theme, “Everyone Has a Story,” celebrates the storyteller in us all.  A selection of programs will be livestreamed, and video of all presentations can be viewed online after the Festival concludes. 

A Girl Like Me  is a picture book that, “brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews’ distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.”  It was created to, “Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams.”

–Lerner Publishing

Unloose My Heart  is a, ”deeply personal memoir that unearths a family history of racism, slaveholding, and trauma as well as love and sparks of delight.  Marcia Herman’s family moved to Birmingham in 1946, when she was five years old, and settled in the steel-making city dense with smog and a rigid apartheid system.  Marcia, a shy only child, struggled to fit in and understand this world, shadowed as it was by her mother’s proud antebellum heritage.  Later in life, Herman-Giddens resumed a search to find out what she did not know about her family history.  Unloose My Heart interweaves the story of her youth and coming of age in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement together with this quest to understand exactly who and what her maternal ancestors were.  More than a memoir set against the backdrop of Jim Crow and the civil rights struggle, this is the work of a woman of conscience writing in the twenty-first century.  Haunted by the past, Unloose My Heart is a journey of exploration and discovery, full of angst, sorrow, and yearning.”

–The University of Alabama Press

Every year, a list of books representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, is distributed by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book during the National Book Festival.  Each book is selected by a Center for the Book state affiliate or state library and most are for children and young readers. Books may be written by authors from the state, take place in the state, or celebrate the state’s culture and heritage.

The Alabama Center for the Book supports reading, literacy and other book-related activities in Alabama as well as promotes appreciation of regional writers.  The Center is a founding co-sponsor of the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.

The Library of Congress’ Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading, is a national force for reading and literacy promotion.  A public-private partnership, its sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading-promotion partners and through its Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit Read.gov.

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