Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's history for some, heritage for others

Welcome to the month of February.  Doesn't feel like February, does it?  Today Jamie, a fellow children's bookseller, made the comment that the weather has been too hormonal lately.  I mean, 20 to 60F?  That's so crazy!  Good thing weather does not effect celebrations, well at least not this one: welcome to Black History Month!

If you know my taste, you will now that with the exception of Christmas, I am not a fan of holiday books.  They're usually too cutesy or televised or just horribly written.  But, over the years, I am finding that books depicting Black History are quite different.  They are all unique and many of them read as true literature.  It is clear that these authors and illustrators take a great deal of pride in their work.  There is also a great variety.  From slavery to civil rights to strong world leaders (and this is just covering our non-fiction section, not fictional novels) there's so much to learn!

Our Children Can Soar   by Michelle Cook
Though it may seem simple on the surface, this picturebook covers more than a list of important names, "Jackie [Robinson] scored... so Rosa [Parks] could sit.  Rosa Ruby [Bridges] could learn."

Without one person, such as the first African American baseball player changing the world, who's to say that Rosa Parks wouldn't have had the courage or inspiration to change the world?  Or to inspire a little girl who wanted to go to school.  History does not document a relationship between these people specifically, but it is the theme they share that inspires others to fight segregation and live freely. (ages 4-8)

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave  by Laban Carrick Hill -- Caldecott Honor 2011, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award 2011
"To us / it is just dirt, /the ground we walk on... / But to Dave / it was clay, / the plain and basic stuff / upon which he formed a life / as a slave nearly 200 years ago."  Dave, though he was a slave, had the education and knowledge to write brilliant poetry and skillfully create amazing pottery.  In Hill's own words, "Dave created his art in spite of a society that not only discouraged his brilliance but threatened him with death for expressing it."   (ages 4-8)

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans  by Kadir Nelson -- Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor 2012
This is the quintessential history book -- from where we are today, from slavery to the Abolition, to finding freedom in the aftermath of slavery and public views of "coloreds," to great leaders, heroes, and accomplishments...our history cannot be overlooked no matter what race you were born in to. (ages 9-12)

Coretta Scott  by Ntozake Shange
Some of you may know her as just the name of an award.  Did you know that she was Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife?  But this picturebook shows far more than their relationship.  Shange's poetry focuses on Coretta Scott King's hardships of growing up and striving for change in a world of indifference.  "No matter who we are / and the Negroes are no different / but fervor for the coming vote / and equality / pushed Coretta a peace and wonderment / of the Lord / 'ain't gonna let nobody turn me round / turn me round.'" (ages 6-9)

Come peruse our non-fiction with over 20 titles!

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