Black History and People of Color Children’s Literature Month

The month of February (we might note, the shortest month of the year) has been designated as Black History Month. I’ll be publishing a number of posts to highlight this time.

What exactly do we mean by “black history” anyway? Do we mean African-American history or the history of black residents of America? During the 1990’s, some 400,000 black immigrants came to the U.S. from Africa. (Moreover, some 900,000 black immigrants came from the Caribbean!) Their history is quite different from that of blacks who have lived in this country for hundreds of years. And what is the connection, if any, between the new immigrants and the old? Read about this issue here in “The Changing Definition of African-American” by Ira Berlin, Smithsonian Magazine, February, 2010.

Picnic on the Grass... Alone, 1997, by Faith Ringgold

In addition, February has been designated as a time to celebrate people of color (POC) books for children. “28 Days Later” is a celebration of POC children’s literature sponsored by The Brown Bookshelf, a group of 5 authors and illustrators, brought together for the collective goal of showcasing the best and brightest voices in African-American Children’s Literature.

Please stop by The Brown Bookshelf and see what books are being honored this month. Also check out Paper Tigers, announcing today an important new project that aims to put a selected set of multicultural books into the hands of children in areas of need in different parts of the world.

You might also like the blog The Happy Nappy Bookseller, in which you can find all kinds of lists of best books for children, by authors of color or with characters of color. Books by Faith Ringgold (see illustration, above) will thrill both children and adults. For books written by Native American writers, Debbie Reese has an annotated list of books for children and young adults here. Many public libraries have great lists. To cite just two: The Pima County Library in Tucson has some nice annotated lists of books for teens: Native American Voices, Latino Voices, African-American Voices, and Asian Voices. The Seattle Public Library has a similar set of annotated lists here.

There are quite a number of small-press publishers committed to publishing multicultural materials for children, and from which you can place orders online. A sampling of these includes:

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11 Responses

  1. Love this! Thanks, Jill.

  2. Great post. I love that you featured Faith Ringgold. She’s one of my favorite artists. I’ll be visiting your recommended links throughout this month!

  3. You always find the most interesting things. I’ve visited a couple of the links here but it’s obvious I need to bookmark this post. This is a great resource, and I love that picture, too.

  4. Tu Publishing, started by Stacy L. Whitman, is another new publisher committed to publishing works of fantasty/sci-fi by PoC.

  5. Thank you for spreading the word about this – off to visit The Brown Bookshelf and Papertigers.

  6. I have a love/hate relationship with Black history month. I love it becasue I hear about all these great stories for example Henriette Lacks cells which were the first immortal human cells came from an african American woman. That article was published today and PBS is running a documentary on African Americans in war times. But then I hate the month becasue why don’t we here these after and befroe February? and february is so cold and dreary and with relatively few holdiays. ugh

    But awesome post! Sorry, didn’t mean to rant.

  7. Great post and thankd for all the links!

  8. Great post and thanks for all the links!

  9. Terrific post. I never gave much thought to what “black history” really meant. I haven’t so much celebrated this month since I was in school because I find it so ridiculous to give someone only a month to learn about their history and culture. The same with Hispanic/Latino Month and Asian Heritage Month. You don’t see any White European History Months floating around. I feel like it is important to promote these months but that it is equally important we promote them all year long. Thanks for the great post and the links, too!

  10. I’m sorry to have missed out on this celebration this year. I’ve been so behind in blog reading, and you have been very prolific! I’m just now catching up on your posts. I hope to check out more of your posts from this month about Black History.

  11. Great post. I will be reading your posts in honor of this month. My book club is reading Cane River in honor of BHM.

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