|Children’s Books for Black History Month
Compiled by Camille Catlett and Yalitza Ramos
Adedjouma, D. (Ed.) (2003). Palm of my heart: Poetry of African American children. New York: Lee & Low Books, Inc. Honest, wise, and inspiring, each of the twenty poems in this dazzling collection resounds with the unique rhythms of life, as seen through the eyes of African American children.
Barnwell, Y.M. (1998). No mirrors in my Nana’s house. San Diego, CA: Voyager Books. Listen and learn how the beauty in one child’s world is in her Nana’s eyes.
Bunting, E. (1994). Flower garden. NY: Harcourt Brace. Follow the progress of a little girl and her father as they purchase "a garden," and board the bus to carry it home. The pansies, tulips, daffodils, geraniums, and daisies are lovingly planted in a window box, and the candles on the cake are lighted--just as Mom walks in the door to find her daughter, her husband, and her birthday surprise.
Butler, J. (1998). A drawing in the sand: The story of African-American art. Madison, WI: Zino Press Children’s Books. The author/illustrator combines the story of his own artistic journey with the struggles and triumphs of important black American artists such as Henry O. Tanner, Edward Bannister, Augusta Savage, and Jacob Lawrence.
Chocolate, D. (1996). Kente colors. New York: Walker and Company. A delightful look at the brilliant colors and traditions of Kente cloth.
Daly, N. (2004). Where’s Jamela? New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. When Mama tells Jamela about her new job and a new place for them to live, Mama is excited but Jamela isn't. The ensuing fun helps smooth the transition.
Dillon, L., & Dillon, D. (1998). To everything there is a season. New York: Scholastic/The Blue Sky Press. Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon present a stunning and exquisite picture book featuring art drawn from cultures around the world to accompany the most famous verses from Ecclesiastes.
Flournoy, V. (1985). The patchwork quilt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. This is a loving tale about a granddaughter and her effort to complete her sick grandmother’s masterpiece.
Hamilton, V. (1995). Her stories: African-American folktales, fairy tales & true tales. New York: The Blue Sky Press. In the tradition of Hamilton's The People Could Fly and In the Beginning, a dramatic new collection of 25 compelling tales from the female African American storytelling tradition. Each story focuses on the role of women--both real and fantastic--and their particular strengths, joys and sorrows.
Haskins, J. & Benson, K. (1998). African beginnings. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. This is a well-researched introduction to ancient African empires.
Hoffman, M., & Binch, C. (1991). Amazing Grace. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. Enjoy a powerful story of a talented African-American child whose mother and grandmother bolster her self-esteem and independence.
Hru, D. (1993). Joshua’s Masai mask. New York: Lee and Low Books, Inc. Joshua learns a lesson about the value of his own identity.
Kurtz, J. (Illustrator). (2004). Goldilocks and the three bears. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children. Dive into this African-American version of a favorite children’s story to learn about hard work, sharing and good manners.
Lee, S., & Lee, T.L. (2002). Please, baby, please. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Director and producer Spike Lee, with his wife Tonya Lewis Lee, team up with award-winning artist Kadir Nelson in this playful glimpse at one day in the life of a rambunctious toddler.
Lester, J. (1996). Sam and the tigers. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. This book is a retelling of a controversial story from the past, Little Black Sambo (1899).
Musgrove, M. (1992). Ashanti to Zulu: African traditions. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. Artists Leo and Diane Dillon won their second consecutive Caldecott Medal for this stunning ABC of African culture. It features twenty-six indigenous African tribes and provides information about some of the traditions and customs of each tribe.
Perkins, Charles (1993). Swinging on a rainbow. Trenton: Africa World Press, Inc. A little girl imagines swinging on a rainbow and dares her friends to imagine the same.
Pinkney, S.L. (2000). Shades of black: A celebration of our children. New York: Scholastic Inc. Using simple language and beautiful photographs, this book emphasizes that just because individuals all have the same racial label does not mean they are the same; rather, every person is unique.
Price, L. (1990). Aida. New York: Harcourt Brace. What a fortuitous moment it was when Leontyne Price, the opera star, and Leo and Diane Dillon, artists, combined their superb talents to produce the lush Aida, one of Verdi's most exotic but tragic operas. The paintings are stylized but powerful in keeping with the Egyptian setting and the love and death theme.
Rapppaport, D. (2001). Martin’s big words: The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words.
Schroeder, A. (1996). Minty: A story of young Harriet Tubman. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. This is a part-fiction, part-fact journey into Harriet Tubman’s childhood.
Shange, N. (1983). Ellington was not a street. New York: Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers. In a reflective tribute to the African-American community of old, noted poet Ntozake Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators that often gathered there. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson are absolutely stunning.
Steptoe, J. (1987). Mufaro’s beautiful daughters: An African tale. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. Enjoy a new context for “Cinderella”.
Stroud, B. (2005). The patchwork path: A quilt map to freedom. Cambridge, MA: Candelwick Press. The affecting story of Hannah, a slave on a Georgia plantation, is inspired by the actual use of quilts as a means of communication on the Underground Railroad.
Woodson, J. (2001). The other side. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. This moving narrative is told in the voice of a child confused about the fence someone else has built in her yard and the racial tension that divides her world.
Wyeth, S.D. (1998). Something beautiful. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. After discovering several disheartening images, a little girl seeks to find something beautiful in her neighborhood.