From the English Department at YCSC

Volume 3, Issue #2

Happy new year and welcome to the second issue of Resonance.

In college, I enrolled in a Black Studies course to explore the literary African American community. In this class, I discovered If Beale Street Could Talk, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and several Toni Morrison novels (Sula being my favorite). I devoured these pages, as they taught me lessons of marginalization and racial discrimination, lessons that connected to me in profound ways. The relationship between reader and author is unique.

This may go without saying, but saying it has to be a constant refrain: books have the power to inspire, transform, and imagine possibilities. When we open a book, we are summoned to its world that exists almost in parallel to our own. We listen to voice, collect ideas, and view life in different ways. Without this relationship to books, then, how may we transcend to an improved society?

February is Black History Month. We acknowledge, honor, and respect the Black men and women who have helped build this country to what it is today. And though it is nowhere near perfect, we can never move forward without acknowledging the pain and legacies of yesterday and today, for it is an acknowledgement merited all months of the year.

This issue of Resonance is an homage to the printed word. Check out the following titles recommended by some of our teachers, and see which of these will be on your queue to read next.

We would love your input. If you feel a book should be part of this list, send it my way. Include the author, title of the book, and a one sentence blurb about the book's relationship to you. You can reach me at

Mario Rosado

Department Chair

Talking Back, Talking Black by John McWhorter

Talking Back, Talking Black by John McWhorter is a good read. He has unique perspectives and is a linguist.

-Adam Jones

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is an amazing author, she addresses issues of race, gender, class, and social justice in nearly all of her writing without coming off as didactic.

- Joey Reyes

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a powerful and contemporary novel that shares the story of a young Black teenage girl who is confronting stereotypes and racial issues while navigating the ever present tribulations of high school (and quite often those are all very much intertwined).

- Adam Perez

It is a beautifully written book. It delivers strong messages about community activism, strength, redemption, and family strength. The book hooks the reader, which is something I look for when choosing a book for my kiddos to read. The book also pairs well with current event articles on systemic racism.

- Elvira Rios

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Its final lines (in the book) have been my email quote for some time, but it is Baldwin's reckoning with family relationships, faith, and race (among others) that make the book a must read.

- Matthew Crehan

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Arguably one of the greatest autobiographies ever written, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave traces the journey of Frederick Douglass from bondage to freedom through literacy. The first hand account of America’s “peculiar institution” lays bare the foundation for existing systems of oppression designed to preserve white supremacy. It is one of the earliest contributions to Critical Race Theory (CRT), and remains an essential read, especially amidst our country's current climate.

- Robert Montes

Fly Girl by Omar Tyree

Tracy Ellison, a young knockout with tall hair and attitude, is living life as fast as she can. Motivated by the material world, she and her friends love and leave the young men who will do anything to get next to them. It's only when the world of gratuitous sex threatens heartbreak that Tracy begins to examine her life, her goals, and her sexuality. (

- Valencia Johnson

My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White

The late Grammy-winning founder of the legendary pop/R&B/soul/funk/disco group tells his story and charts the rise of his legendary band in this sincere memoir that captures the heart and soul of an artist whose groundbreaking sound continues to influence music today. (

- Sir Bailey

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. (

- Sir Bailey


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YouthBuild Charter School of CA (YCSC) is a free project-based charter school, rooted in social justice, for students between 16 and 24 years of age. Campuses are located throughout Los Angeles, including Inland Empire, San Diego, and Fresno. For more information, please see below.