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.
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: