The NEA Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, is designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture. The Big Read brings together partners from across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. JMRL invites all book lovers in Central Virginia to join The NEA Big Read throughout March 2017. Read and discuss Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones and participate in programs about the book, its themes, and its author.
We've selected a list of books, movies, and music in the JMRL collection that will inspire further exploration and enhance your reading. There is a printable version of the adult list. Find more resources and discussion questions for this book in the Big Read Reader’s Guide. Find information on programs, contests and more by visiting the NEA Big Read at JMRL.
About the Author
Read the official NEA Big Read bio to Tayari Jones.
Read Jones's biography on her webpage.
Read an article by the author "On Writing With Empathy"
Works by Tayari Jones
Related Reading - Fiction
- F Hepworth, Sally
- THE MOTHER'S PROMISE
- A single mother dying of cancer requests the help of her nurse and a social worker to protect her teen daughter, who is battling her own inner demons.
- F Leavitt, Caroline
- CRUEL, BEAUTIFUL WORLD
- Similar in tone to Silver Sparrow, this is a coming-of-age story of two sisters in the 1960s, one of whom goes missing.
- F Moriarty, Liane
- A HUSBAND'S SECRET
- Discovering a tattered letter that says she is to open it only in the event of her husband's death, Cecilia, a successful family woman, is unable to resist reading the letter and discovers a secret that shatters her life and the lives of two other women.
- Murphy, Jennifer
- I LOVE YOU MORE
- When Picasso's father is murdered, her mother is suspected of the crime, until it's discovered that Picoasso had a second and third wife. The women say they have never met one another, but Picasso knows that this isn't the truth - in this mystery featuring family secrets and betrayal.
- F Niffenegger, Audrey
- HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY
- Two American twin teenagers move into a flat inherited from their aunt near a cemetery in London, but they learn that things may still be alive in the cemetery, including their aunt, in this story centered on secrets and sisterhood.
- F Oyeyemi, Helen
- BOY, SNOW, BIRD
- Family secrets, race, and vanity are explored in this retelling of the Snow White tale when a daughter’s dark skin exposes a light-skinned African American family passing for white in a small town in 1950s Massachusetts.
- F Picoult, Jodi
- MY SISTER’S KEEPER
- Initially conceived to provide a bone marrow match for her sister fighting leukemia, teenage Kate struggles with moral and familial obligations which have burdened her since birth while living in the shadow of her sister’s needs.
- F Setterfeld, Diane
- THE THIRTEENTH TALE
- The enigmatic author Vida Winter with multiple identities finally allows a biographer write the truth about her past which she had thought she’d buried for good. Biographer Margaret Lea, whose own birth is shrouded in mystery, is mesmerized by her tales and both women are transformed by truths uncovered.
- F Sittenfeld, Curtis
- Kate has done her best to hide psychic abilities shared by her twin sister Violet and lead a normal life. But when an enormous earthquake hits and Violet publicly predicts one far more worse, Kate must decide how to handle the relationship with her sister and face her own truths.
- F Shreve, Anita
- THE PILOT’S WIFE
- When Kathryn’s husband dies in a plane crash, she finds herself at the center of publicity that is stirring up about her husband, and rumors of his secret life.
- F Udall, Brady
- THE LONELY POLYGAMIST
- A tragicomic story about Golden Richards, a polygamist with four wives and 28 children, who has a midlife-crisis affair that threatens his family. A beautiful story that tells of characters grappling with the nature of need, belonging, and love.
- F Ward, Jesmyn
- SALVAGE THE BONES
- An award-winning story about family and survival shows the journey of four motherless siblings in a coastal Mississippi town preparing for Hurricane Katrina and sacrificing for one another as they deal with teenage pregnancy, a dying litter of prize puppies, and an alcoholic and absent father.
Related Reading - Nonfiction
- 92 Angelou, Maya
- MOM & ME & MOM
- This focus on the larger-than-life mother of Maya Angelou, and the relationship they shared, highlights the complicated relationship between mother and daughter.
- 92 Cleage, Pearl
- THINGS I SHOULD HAVE TOLD MY DAUGHTER: LIES, LESSONS, & LOVE AFFAIRS
- Fear, indignation, and amazing warmth spread through this outstanding memoir of the 1970s and '80s, much of it in Atlanta, written with the intimacy of a journal, from a gifted writer.
- 305.896 Coates, Ta-Nehisi
- BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME
- In his trademark style -- a mix of lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, essayistic argument, and reportage -- Coates provides readers a thrillingly illuminating new framework for understanding race: its history, our contemporary dilemma, and where we go from here.
- 510.92 Lee Shetterly, Margot
- HIDDEN FIGURES: the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race
- Explores the previously uncelebrated but pivotal contributions of NASA's African-American women mathematicians to America's space program, describing how Jim Crow laws segregated them from their white counterparts despite their groundbreaking successes. For more like this, please see Hidden Figures Read-Alikes.
Movies and Music
- Barber Shop
- Beauty Shop
Books for Teens
TEEN READ SELECTION: MAKE LEMONADE by Virginia Euwer Wolff
- YA Arnold, David
- When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane
- YA Booth, Coe
- High schooler Kendra longs to live with her mother who, unprepared for motherhood at age fourteen, left Kendra in the care of her grandmother.
- YA Bowers, Laura
- BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT: FULLY EQUIPPED, INQUIRE WITHIN
- Raised by a great-grandmother and a bunch of beauty shop buddies, fourteen-year-old Abbey resolves to overcome her unhappy childhood and disillusionment with the mother who deserted her.
- YA Draper, Sharon
- FORGED BY FIRE
- Teenage Gerald, who has spent years protecting his fragile half-sister from their abusive father, faces the prospect of one final confrontation before the problem can be solved.
- YA Flake, Sharon
- THE SKIN I’M IN
- Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and makes some discoveries about to love who she is and what she looks like.
- YA Flying
- FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES ed. By Ellen Oh
- From basketball dreams and family fiascos to first crushes and new neighborhoods, this anthology, written by award-winning children's authors, celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
- YA Hunt, Lynda Mullaly
- ONE FOR THE MURPHYS
- After heartbreaking betrayal, Carley is sent to live with a foster family and struggles with opening herself up to their love
- YA Kadohata, Cynthia
- OUTSIDE BEAUTY
- Thirteen-year-old Shelby and her three sisters must go to live with their respective fathers while their mother, who has trained them to rely on their looks, recovers from a car accident that scarred her face.
- YA Knowles, Johanna
- After fifteen-year-old Bean's beloved grandfather Gus dies, she discovers uncomfortable secrets about him, her mother, and the father she has never known.
- YA Madonia, Kristen-Page
- FINGERPRINTS OF YOU
- After spending her life moving from place to place with her single mother, pregnant seventeen-year-old Lemon takes a bus to San Francisco to seek the father she never knew, as well as truths about her mother and herself.
- YA McDonald, Janet
- Fifteen-year-old Cameron living with her single mother in Brooklyn finds her search for identity further challenged when she discovers that she is the product of a biracial relationship
- YA Nelson, Jandy
- I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN
- Inseparable twins Noah and Jude are torn apart by jealousy and family tragedy. Their story is told in alternating chapters, with Noah’s story when the twins are thirteen and Jude’s chapters at sixteen.
- YA Oates, Joyce Carol
- FREAKY GREEN EYES
- Fifteen-year-old Frankie relates the events of the year leading up to her mother's mysterious disappearance and her own struggle to discover and accept the truth about her parents' relationship.
- YA Sharenow, Rob
- MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER
- Thirteen-year-old Louise uncovers secrets about her family and her neighborhood during the violent protests over school desegregation in 1960 New Orleans.
- YA Smith, Sherri L.
- Ida Mae, an eighteen-year-old light-skinned African American, passes herself off as a white woman and has to hide her pilot father’s identity in order to be allowed to fly as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.
- YA Sonnenblick, Jordan
- FALLING OVER SIDEWAYS
- Harassed at her middle school, not taken seriously at home, and with a "perfect" older brother, Matthew, to live up to, thirteen-year-old Claire has always felt like her life was cursed--then one morning, when she and her beloved father are talking at breakfast, her father suddenly falls over with a stroke, and suddenly everything changes.
- YA Sutton, Kelsey
- THE LONELY ONES
- The stress of her father's job loss causes Fain to feel invisible at home and in her new school, but she escapes with the monsters of her imagination until a family crisis and a human friend cause her to reconsider.
- YA Woodson, Jacqueline
- AFTER TUPAC & D FOSTER
- In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
- YA Zarr, Sara
- HOW TO SAVE A LIFE
- Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill's mother agrees to adopt Mandy's unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.
Books for Youth
LITTLE READ SELECTION: GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA by Rita Williams Garcia
- J DiCamillo, Kate
- RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE
- Raymie enters a beauty pageant hoping to win her father’s affection and bring him home and is drawn into unlikely friendships with her competition.
- J Frazier, Sundee Tucker
- THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART
- When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America. Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when their grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out whether that’s really true.
- J Greenwald, Lisa
- MY LIFE IN PINK AND GREEN
- When the family's drugstore is failing, seventh-grader Lucy uses her problem-solving talents to come up with solution that might resuscitate the business, along with helping the environment.
- J Kelly, Erin Entrada
- THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS
- Abandoned by their father and living in poverty with their heartless stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines, twelve-year-old Sol and six-year-old Ming, learn the true meaning of family.
- J Kline, Lisa Williams
- WINTER’S TIDE
- Building a family is hard, especially with stepsisters who are complete opposites. During the bleak and dreary days of winter, Diana continues to be bullied at school, Stephanie continues hiding a painful secret, and both their lives are shaken by two tragic accidents.
- J Leal, Ann Haywood
- A FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE
- As their mother’s manic-depression worsens, sisters Esther and Ruth search for their father, a preacher who left them seven years earlier in 1966.
- J Paulsen, Gary
- LIAR, LIAR: THE THEORY, PRACTICE, AND DESTRUCTIVE PROPERTIES OF DECEPTION
- Fourteen-year-old Kevin is very good at lying and doing so makes life easier, but when he finds himself in big trouble with his friends, family, and teachers, he must find a way to end his lies forever.
- J Pearsall, Shelley
- ALL OF THE ABOVE
- Five urban middle school students, their teacher, and other community members relate how a school project to build the world's largest tetrahedron affects the lives of everyone involved.
- J Standiford, Natalie
- THE SECRET TREE
- After Minty discovers a secret tree with a hollow trunk that holds the secrets of everyone in the neighborhood, Raymond, a new boy drawn to the tree and Minty start watching their neighbors.
- J Stead, Rebecca
- WHEN YOU REACH ME
- In 1979, as her mother prepares to be a contestant on a television game show, Miranda tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.
Picture Books Featuring Family'