Use the strength of story to check out what"s different and also the same, new and shared, about ourselves and our experiences. This nine publications find wonderful ways to express global themes v African Americans, both fictional and real.

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Back in the 1950s and 60s, children"s publications had very few people of color and also even fewer books in i beg your pardon the main personalities were african American. Neither photos nor story presented afri Americans diversely.

Many things happened to begin to change that, and today"s illustrators and authors – and also their delighted readers – owe lot to Carter G. Woodson, the creator the the company that started Black background Month.

A time come learn and also remember

Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who came to be a Harvard-educated scholar, wanted to find out the story of african Americans. What he discovered, though, is that background books generally did not encompass them.

Woodson, a male of action, started the Association for the study of black Life and background (now referred to as the Association for the research of afri American Life and also History) in 1915. A year later, Woodson developed the journal of negro History. Ten years later on in 1926, Woodson initiated Negro history Week to focus attention top top the far-ranging contributions of african Americans transparent the background of the joined States.

Woodson purposely determined to location Negro background Week – now Black history Month – in February as it is the month in i m sorry the african American orator, reformer, and also abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born. Woodson functioned to increase everyone"s knowledge of the contribute of african Americans because he felt the without access to wider information, students and also teachers would become victims of "selfish propaganda."

Diversity and commonality

The civilization in i m sorry our children grow up this particular day is increasingly diverse. All human being have a distinct story, yet all stories, prefer all people, have numerous things in common. And also nowhere is this more apparent than in publications for children.

During Black history Month, we hope you"ll take the chance to memory the diversity and also commonality of our country and also its people. One wonderful thing around children"s books is the they deserve to be a mirror that expose something within ourselves, or a home window that reflects us something new in the human being outside.

Children"s book author Patricia McKissack notes that "When you have actually African American youngsters in her classroom, the is so an excellent for them to view themselves. If you watch yourself in a book, you"ll be more likely to pick it up. And also if you pick it up, you"ll review it. And also if friend read, you"ll read more. And if you review more, you review better. And, that course, the all leads to success."

And because that those children who space not african American, children"s publications can it is in a window for seeing and understanding another"s background and experience. States McKissack: "They open up doors for readers who, perhaps, execute not recognize a lot about the african American experience in this nation or some of the contribute made by afri Americans to its growth and also development."

Universal themes

The adhering to nine new books uncover wonderful means to express global themes v memorable afri Americans, both fictional and also real. We heartily recommend this books around dreams, struggles, wisdom, and also expression, not just for Black history Month, but all year long. (See additionally Reading Rockets" Favorite books for Black history Month for extr suggestions).


Celebrations often begin with hopes and also dreams. Kids dream to explore, to escape, and to envision.

I Dream the Trains

While picking noodle in the warmth of a Mississippi morning, the young narrator in i Dream of Trains by Angela Johnson (illustrated by Loren Long, Simon & Schuster, 2003) shares his imaginings together he hears a train whistle.

It"s Casey Jones" train through Sam Webb, his afri American fireman, top top board. The sound of their train transports the boy as "Short days, cold days,/turn ago into long, warm planting days..." while the waits for Casey and also his engine come return and also "dream me away."

Evocative language combines through Long"s expressive paintings to expose one child"s dream for a much better life. The author"s endnote invites readers to think around the impact of Casey Jones on black sharecroppers. The book also invites discussion between adults and children around getting away from things you don"t gain (through dreams or in actuality) and about trains, work, fathers and also sons, and also the dreams that parents have for your children.

I"ve seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Is a popular dreamer. He dreamed that there would certainly be a work when civilization would it is in judged not by the color of your skin however by the contents of their character.

I"ve seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through Walter Dean Myers (illustrated through Leonard Jenkins; HarperCollins, 2004) offers a well-paced biography of a major leader the the 20th century viewed against the world and events that shaped him.

King wanted to it is in remembered as someone "who had actually tried to carry out his best and also to offer all people, regardless of race." and also because that that, King is remembered as "a guy who do the efforts to store our nation on the righteous route to freedom."

The semi-abstract illustrations current an opportunity to discover both boy name Luther King, Jr. And also the method illustrations extend the emotions that the simple text. You can talk come children, for example, about the use of bold line, shape, and strong color in the photo of the dog on the double-page spread out that discusses the violence the 1963 and how King refuse to be drawn into the hatred that was command at him.

Martin"s large Words by Doreen Rappaport (illustrated by Bryan Collier; jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2000) offers a collage method and a much easier text to attain a comparable emotional effect. Collier winner a Coretta Scott King award because that this i can not forget book.


All civilization struggle. Sometimes the struggle is to find out something new, as Papa does before voting because that the very first time.

Papa"s Mark

Papa"s mark by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert (illustrated through Colin Bootman; vacation House, 2003) gift the triumphant story of Simms and also his dad in Lamar County shortly after the polite War. It is the an initial election in which black men have the right to vote, and Papa desires to create his name fairly than just mark the ballot v an X. Simms gently help his father discover to write his name.

Though finding out to create your name is difficult, standing up for your civil liberties is tougher. Battle-Lavert offers a fascinating author"s keep in mind covering the historical context the voting civil liberties for blacks in the southern that may generate discussion around why vote remains an essential activity.

Parents can talk with children around how and also where they vote, how they decide who to poll for, and also how campaigns work. Adults and also children can also learn around elections with each other in an additional excellent book, Vote! by Eileen Christelow (Clarion, 2003).

The Hard-Times Jar

Emma Jean Turner has a various struggle in The Hard-Times seasoned by Ethel Footman Smothers (illustrated by man Holyfield; Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003). She knows exactly how to read and even writes she own publications on grocery sack paper. However Emma and her family are migrant workers, and also she doesn"t own any "store-bought books" because money is scare. Your hard-times jar and also its coins carry out a safety and security net in situation the family needs miscellaneous important between paydays.

Yet one more struggle is Emma"s reluctance to attend institution in their short-lived Pennsylvania location. She feels isolated in her third grade course where the teacher and all the students repeat Emma that "buttermilk, every creamy and white," a very different experience for Emma who attended a segregated institution in Florida.

Emma, intrigued through the school"s library and also its ceiling-to-floor books, does a foolish however understandable thing: she takes books home through her, i m sorry is forbidden by this school. But later, after ~ confessing to her mother, Emma takes obligation for return the books to school, acknowledging she wrongdoing but still yearning to read. Reader will readily identify throughout time and lifestyles in this satisfying and also emotionally true story.


Everyone loves folktales because there is global truth and wisdom as well as just plain entertainment because that all ages in these traditional tales.

What"s the Hurry, Fox? and also Other animal Stories

What"s the Hurry, Fox? and Other pet Stories (collected by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas, depicted by Bryan Collier; HarperCollins, 2004) gift wise and witty pourquoi tales, stories with pets that behave choose humans and also with action that describe why or how something happened.

The buzzard, and also the reason why he has no home, gives the frame for this book and its short, punchy, happy tales, each illustrated with handsome artwork that appears to be watercolor and also collage. These folktales are attracted from those collected in the south by folklorist, novelist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, in the 1930s. The adaptations make these appealing tales obtainable and motivating for young readers who will likely create their own pourquoi yarns as well as the pictures to go through them ~ exposure to these.

Bruh Rabbit and also the Tar baby Girl

The Tar baby is a character all children should know and also a fine arrival is Virginia Hamilton"s new retelling of Bruh Rabbit and also the Tar infant Girl (illustrated through James Ransome; Blue skies Press, 2003).

Bruh hare is a wily trickster that outsmarts hardworking, earnest however gullible Bruh Wolf. Bruh wolf gets the top hand for a quick time as soon as he provides an attractive however sticky tar baby girl come which Bruh rabbit becomes attached. Yet the tricky rabbit induces the unsuspecting wolf to litter him earlier into the briar patch wherein he have the right to gloat: "I was bred and born in this place."

Hamilton"s yes, really telling provides use the Gullah language that will happiness listeners who can figure out what "day clean" is just by listening. Lighthearted watercolors match this well told tale that requirements to be check out aloud and also is quickly dramatized. It"s a good introduction to various other Bruh Rabbit story or other tricksters, such together Anansi the Spider or the aboriginal American Coyote.


An individual"s story, and a historic story, can also be told through art. Two brand-new books now feature the art and also life of significant 20th century artists, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden.

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Parents, teachers, and also librarians can use the artwork that Lawrence and also Bearden to encourage children to check out what arts represents, the various styles and media used, the time it was created, the story it reveals, and also the sounds or emotions that generates.

The an excellent Migration: an American Story

Jacob Lawrence was component of the an excellent Migration, a time he records in The good Migration: an American Story (HarperCollins, 1993). Lawrence specifies this period just after people War I together "an exodus of afri Americans that left their homes and also farms the the South... And traveled to northern industrial cities in find of much better lives."

In 1940, Lawrence started a series of paints that visually explained the unforgettable journey: where it began, what occurred on the way, and how the felt. The an effective images depict people"s pain, isolation, courage, and also strength. It is the separation, personal, instance story and the cumulative story the "people everywhere the world... Trying come build much better lives because that themselves and also their families."

Romare Bearden: Collage of Memories

Romare Bearden was a contemporary of Jacob Lawrence. Romare Bearden: Collage of memories by jan Greenberg (Abrams, 2003) creates page designs that room reminiscent the Bearden"s distinct collage technique. The text invites reader to storage "the struggles and also triumphs of african American life in the twenty century," and also to "step within Bearden"s world, whereby jazz, rhythm, and also the blues fulfill a kaleidoscope of shimmering, shimmying color."