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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

“Stories that build on a common humanity”

In “A Fine Bookshelf,” from the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, author and Haitian immigrant Ibi Zoboi talks about building a home library for her two daughters, now teenagers. As the girls were growing up, Zoboi sought out books that mirrored her children’s experience and that celebrated past generations.

She begins her article by reflecting on a “rites-of-passage class” she once taught “to a group of African American and Caribbean American teenage girls.” She created a lesson she called “the Mogya Line. Mogya is the Akan (Ghanaian) word for blood — so, a bloodline.” She stresses that this wasn’t part of a school curriculum: “I was there to help deepen their understanding of their world and their place in it.”

I encourage you to read the article to learn more about this powerful lesson and Zoboi’s observations about slavery’s legacy on generations of readers. I am going to focus on this passage, in particular, as I endure this current news cycle:

…stories are the stuff of ancestors, pieced together to preserve ideas and beloved traditions. Certainly, all people have their own tales of survival and triumph, their own versions of history. However, what can exist within each family, on every Mogya Line, are stories that build on a common humanity.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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