There's something about time travel books that really capture the imagination and make space for so many possibilities. Time travel speculative fiction is a genre that blends the real and the imagined in ways that blur, change, distort, empower, and disrupt. And this is definitely something we need in our work toward racial justice and collective liberation. In one of author Zetta Elliott's interviews about speculative fiction she mentioned that activist, author, and teacher Angela Davis once said "My parents taught me to prepare for worlds that did not yet exist." How can these stories help us to imagine beyond what we're living in right now to something more just, more vocal, more active, more connected, more loving?
If you're curious and want to learn more about the way science fiction (especially science fiction by Black, Indigenous, and other authors of color) can liberate, check out these short videos by amazing fantasy, poetry, speculative fiction, and more author Zetta Elliott:
Then, do a little reading with this small collection of articles:
Also, as I was doing my research, I came across this wonderful project for teen authors to self-publish: Shout Mouse Press. Consider a next book purchase from these amazing youth writers.
BOOK LIST: DIVE IN!
Finally, here's a short list of speculative fiction that uses time travel to explore the past, present, and future with a focus on Black history and liberation.
A (MOSTLY) ZETTA ELLIOTT SPECULATIVE FICTION BOOK LIST
Breonna Marches Through Time by Daveena Kenny, Shatyia Givens, Jocktavious Montford, and Geralyn Hooks: This story takes 8-year-old Breonna on a trip back in time from present day Black Lives Matter protests to youth protests in 1955 and forward into 2025. What does she learn? The strength of the legacy of youth activists and her own voice!
Melena's Jubillee by Zetta Elliott: Melena wakes up one morning and realizes she has an opportunity to revisit the day before and do things differently.
EARLY CHAPTER BOOK & MIDDLE READERS (to read to yourself or to read out loud)
The Magic Mirror by Zetta Elliott: A magical mirror takes a young Black girl back into Black history, Black power, and to learn more about her grandmother.
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott: Time travel, portals, and dragons all play a major part in this fantasy book about a kid from Brooklyn who finds out that he and his ancestors have magical powers.
MIDDLE READERS & YA
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott: Genna is transported back in time from her present day Brooklyn neighborhood to the same place but during the Civil War era.
The Door at the Crossroads by Zetta Elliott: Genna and her boyfriend are both transported back in time, but Genna is taken to a free Black community while Judah is enslaved in the South. Will they find their way back to each other and back to the present day?
If you get inspired to write some science fiction of your own, go back to the article Why Black Children Need to Read and Write Science Fiction and you'll find some writing prompts for kids to start writing their own stories with their radical imaginations. You can even start with this Angela Davis quote as a way to begin writing...happy imagining!