Well-Read Black Girl Book Club Begins at J. Clarke Richardson

Posted On Monday February 03, 2020
Award-winning author Zalika Reid-Benta answers student questions at the J. Clarke Richardson Well-Read Black Girl Book Club meeting on January 9th.

Well-Read Black Girl Book Club Begins at J. Clarke Richardson

Grade 9-12 students start off their Well-Read Black Girl Book Club with a visit from an award-winning Toronto author

This past November, students and staff at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate in Ajax commenced their first ever Well-Read Black Girl (WRBG) Book Club meeting at the school.

For their first book, members read Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta.

Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis, a girl trying to find the balance between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Kara’s experiences are shared through a series of short stories. That includes growing up in “Little Jamaica” (Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood), visiting Jamaica and realizing the cultural differences, and everything in between.

Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based author who recently was awarded the 2019 ByBlacks People’s Choice Award. ByBlacks is an interactive online magazine focusing on the Black Canadian community.

Shared Experiences

On January 9th, book club members were elated to have Reid-Benta join them at the school. She read an excerpt from her book, answered questions, and even signed copies of her book for eager students.

Jada Temple, Black Studies Teacher at J. Clarke Richardson, says having Reid-Benta at their meeting was very impactful for students, “She [Reid-Benta] is a Canadian of Jamaican descent and some of our students also share that experience. So many connections were made.”

Temple adds, “It’s important for young Black women to read stories that represent the Black diaspora and hear stories that are relevant to them.”

An Introduction to Diverse Authors

The idea for starting a WRBG Book Club at J. Clarke Richardson came from the WRBG online community and real-life book clubs hosted across the United States. WRBG is partnered with the American Booksellers Association, and according to the WRBG website their aim is to “introduce a cohort of diverse writers to future generations – contemporary authors who are non-binary, queer, trans, and disabled. And to address inequalities and improve communities through reading and reflecting on the works of Black women.”

Spreading the Message

Temple concludes that she hopes their book club inspires other Durham Region schools to follow suit, “We’re hoping to grow this, and for it to become more student led. It would be excellent to see more chapters pop up in other Durham schools.”

For more information about Well-Read Black Girl visit https://www.wellreadblackgirl.com/

To learn more about Zalika Reid-Benta click here.