Betty Before X (Audio Book)

Ages: 10 - 14Producer: Macmillan Audio Author: Ilyasah Shabazz, Renée Watson


Betty tries to count her blessings each night to help herself fall asleep. She shares a bed with her three sisters in their Detroit house, and little Juanita won’t use the bathroom in the middle of the night unless Betty goes with her. During the day, Betty is on the lookout for signs that her mother might lose her temper with Betty. Sometimes she hears her stepfather Arthur, or the ladies at church, talking about the lynchings happening in the South as soldiers return home from World War II in 1945.

Even though Betty must move away from her mother, she always has people who love and encourage her—her sisters, her friends, and especially Dean and Mrs. Malloy from church, who take her in as their own. Under Mrs. Malloy’s tutelage, Betty finds a new blessing. As a member of the Junior Housewives’ League, Betty helps the older women in her neighborhood band together to organize Detroit’s African-American community to use their purchasing power to create new job opportunities by boycotting stores that refuse to hire Black men.

Betty will go on to become Dr. Betty Shabazz, social justice worker and wife to Malcom X. This book tells the story of her girlhood, and traces the roots of her activism to the fierce women and mentors of the Housewives’ League, long before she met Malcolm X.

Ilyasah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, is both the author and reader of the audiobook. Shabazz based the book on stories she heard from her mother, and she brings those stories to life in engaging and vivid prose. Shabazz is expressive and humorous, communicating through her voice when reader/listeners are being encouraged to laugh at certain characters, or to admire others.

Naomi Lesley ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Available here