NOMA’s Learning and Engagement staff suggests the following books related to themes of homeplace. In partnership with Octavia Books, links are provided to purchase these titles through this independent bookstore based in New Orleans, which offers nationwide shipping or curbside pickup. The store has also been approved for Phase 1 of reopening. For more information, visit their website.
The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom, Grove Press, 2019, ISBN: 9780802125088
In 1961, Sarah M. Broom’s mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant–the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah’s father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah’s birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae’s thirteenth and most unruly child.
A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser-known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, Anchor, 2011, ISBN: 9780767919395
In these pages, the beloved Bill Bryson gives us a fascinating history of the modern home, taking us on a room-by-room tour through his own house and using each room to explore the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted. As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in the paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture. Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.
Home by Toni Morrison, Vintage, 2013, ISBN: 9780307740915
When Frank Money joined the army to escape his too-small world, he left behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, his shattered life has no purpose until he hears that Cee is in danger.
Frank is a modern Odysseus returning to a 1950s America mined with lethal pitfalls for an unwary black man. As he journeys to his native Georgia in search of Cee, it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and–above all–what it means to come home.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, Scribner, 2006, ISBN: 9780743247542
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
For Young Adults
Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019, ISBN: 9781534406025
Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—study hard in school, be respectful, and never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially living in her mother’s shadow.
When Indy is sent to stay in Nassau, trouble follows her and she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home.
After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if she’s found that place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.
Leaving Home: Stories, Stories Selected by Hazel Rochman & Darlene Z. McCampbell, Illustrated by Darlene Z. McCampbell, HarperTeen, 1998, ISBN: 9780064407069
We leave home to find home. Here is an unusual collection of short stories, from a variety of distinguished writers from different cultures and different viewpoints, that explores the turning point in every adolescent’s life when he or she is forced to take that first step away from home, family, and the known. From personal tales of unwed mothers, arranged marriages, and divorcing parents, to stories about refugees and war resistance, Leaving Home paints a canvas of universal experience for teen-age readers, and includes stories by Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien, and many others.
For Ages 9 – 12
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman, Puffin Books, 2020, ISBN: 9781524738136
Life is harsh on the teeming streets of Chennai, India, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge that’s also the hideout of Muthi and Arul, two homeless boys, and the four of them soon form a family of sorts. And while making their living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to take pride in, too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick, 2018, ISBN: 9780763694630
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)
Home by Carson Ellis, Candlewick, 2015, ISBN: 780763665296
Suggested ages: 4 – 8
Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. A meditation on the concept of home and a visual treat that invites many return visits, this loving look at the places where people live marks the picture-book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the indie band the Decemberists
If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen, Puffin Books, 2019, ISBN: 9781984814845
Suggested ages: 3 – 5
The much-anticipated follow-up to the E. B. White Award-winning picture book If I Built a Car
In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he’s back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack’s limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.
Chris Van Dusen’s vibrant illustrations marry retro appeal with futuristic style as he, once again, gives readers a delightfully rhyming text that absolutely begs to be read aloud.
This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe, Chronicle Books, 2017, ISBN: 9781452150185
Suggested ages: 5 – 8
In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them.
This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.
The Marvelous Mud House: A Story of Finding Fullness and Joy by April Graney, Illustrated by Alida Massari, B&H Kids, 2017, ISBN: 9781462740994
Suggested ages: 4 – 8
Ben and his American family live in a hungry ranch house where they are always wanting more. But then they travel far across the world to Kenya and visit the marvelous mud house where George and Mama George live. There, among the mango trees, they discover a marvelous lesson about what it’s like to be full of joy instead.
Two Homes by Claire Masurel, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, Candlewick, 2003, ISBN: 9780763619848
Suggested ages: 3 – 7
At Mommy’s house, Alex has a soft chair. At Daddy’s house, Alex has a rocking chair. In each home, Alex also has a special bedroom and lots of friends to play with. But whether Alex is with Mommy or with Daddy, one thing always stays the same — Alex is loved. The gently reassuring text focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. Two Homes will help children—and parents—embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.