These 7 children’s books will help celebrate Black History Month
Do you want to dive deeper into the lives of real black Americans?
You don’t have to wait until black history month “Black history is American history, after all. But this annual celebration offers a wonderful incentive to learn more about the historic icons and great quiet citizens who changed the little worlds around them and thereby changed our country.
With the help of my 8-year-old son – who suggested a few books from his own shelves – here are seven (of many) titles for young readers that are worth your time and attention during black history month.
“Who is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien
Part of the Who HQ series of biographies, Edwards’ work not only charts Obama’s road to the White House, but places his life and career in the context of the civil rights leaders and authors who shaped him. influenced, as well as pioneering black politicians such as Shirley Chisholm. and Jesse Jackson. O’Brien’s simple but effective line drawings complete the book.
“The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read” by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Plus
Can you imagine learning to read at 116? It was then that Mary Walker put the pieces together and found meaning in the pages of the books, including her treasured family Bible. Born into slavery and living through dramatic changes in history, Walker – who died in 1969 aged 121 – is proof that life goes on at any age. Hubbard and More come together to create a lovely book that upholds Walker’s kind and dignified heart and is a testament to the openness power of books to the world.
“J is for Jazz” by Ann Ingalls and Maria Corte Maidagan
Bursting with personality, Ingalls’ work takes an A-Z look at American music, offering fun facts and riffs on everyone and everything from Ella Fitzgerald and Thelonious Monk to “floorflushers” and fame. Kansas City “celestial” for jazz. Corte Maidagan’s stunning illustrations bring even more life to a vibrant book.
“We Are the Ship: The History of Negro Baseball League” by Kadir Nelson
Nelson, a true American treasure, puts his words and his magnificent paintings at the service of this rich history of the Black Leagues. Nelson narrates and reports on important figures such as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, while discussing the game, the culture around the league and more. The detailed writing makes this book a good read for the family or for older students.
“Molly, by Golly!” by Dianne Ochiltree and Kathleen Kemly
Subtitled “The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter”, this vibrant volume tells the story of a domestic worker who helped her local volunteer fire brigade during an emergency in New York City at the early 1800s. Ochiltree’s alliterative, percussive prose sets the action perfectly as Molly rushes to help her fellow townspeople.
“Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier
Many noteworthy books on King have been written; Rappaport’s work focuses on the transformative power of words – both positive and negative – in the life of a young king, and the power he harnessed in his speeches and writings. The book incorporates many of King’s most powerful quotes, simply presenting them for young readers to experience and remember. Collier, an outstanding illustrator, brings moving images that underscore King’s message in a way that words alone cannot.
“Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre” by Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper
Revered author Weatherford, accompanied by Cooper’s exquisite illustrations, tells the story of Greenwood, a prosperous black enclave in Tulsa, which was burned down and razed by white people in 1921. Weatherford and Cooper detail the evil of this event but, to their credit, spend much of the book discussing the beauty and community embodied by the people of Greenwood.
Aarik Danielsen is the Features and Culture Editor for Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731.