African American

peaceful huntsvilleSeeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Written by Hester Bass, Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

There are many great books for children that bring the civil rights era alive for children. This book does just that – but with a wonderful twist. The author tells the story of segregation and prejudice in the deep South with a special emphasis on how people in the town of Hunstville, Alabama used peaceful means to make meaningful change in their community.

Beautiful illustrations mark the pages that show not only what people faced; like being unable to be measured for shoes if you were African-American, but also events such as the “Blue Jean Sunday” protest, a Mother’s Day celebration in an “all-white” park and a sit-in at lunch counter where the police had to arrest a mother and her baby. Over and over, the residents of Huntsville found powerful and creative ways to show their neighbors and the world that an unfair and unequal life was simply not acceptable.

This well-researched book is a great read for older children, especially when studying this era of American history. It’s an up-close and personal look at segregation and one town that chose to follow a non-violent path to making positive and permanent change.

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Meet The ObamasMeet The Obamas, America’s First Family
Written By Andrea Davis Pinkney

Get a fascinating look behind the scenes into the White House and it’s first African-American President.  And read on to meet the entire first family, plus the presidential dog, “Bo”.

Do you know how many people work at the White House?  That there’s a swimming pool, children’s garden and much more that might surprise you?  This “short but sweet” Scholastic book is a beautiful tour of President Obama’s White House complete with lots of information about the first family and moving photographs, like one young boy who asks to touch the Presidents hair to see if it was like his own.

Don’t miss the chance to chance to share these details and important aspects of the US presidency with your child through this easy-to-read, first family portrait.

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always oliviaby Carolivia Herron, Illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau 

Sometimes family histories are complicated.  And exciting.  And amazing!

“Always An Olivia” is written as the story of an elderly African-American grandmother who lovingly passes along the details of an incredible tale to her granddaughter.  It’s the story of the journey their family made as Jews escaping persecution in Spain. Then there’s a pirate ship and a brave young girl and a landing in the US Georgia Sea Isles in a community of descendants of West African slaves. And so much more!  But throughout all this, one thing remains the same.  There is always an “Olivia” in each generation of the family.

Critically-acclaimed author Carolivia Herron shares this amazing tale that is actually based on her own unique family history and how one daughter in each generation is given the name “Olivia” to honor the past.

Along with being an exciting and informative read, the book is a good conversation starter on topics such as multiculturalism, tolerance, Jewish history, family history and discovering your roots.

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Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated By James Ransome

What if you were a child during the terrible time period of slavery?  How would you endure the hardship and challenges?

This book is a realistic portrayal of a young girl named “Sweet Clara”.  At the age of 12, she’s taken from her mother to work on another plantation as a field hand.  But her kind “aunt” Rachel has a plan to get her away from that difficult and back-breaking work.  She teaches young Clara how to sew.

As a young seamstress in the big house, Clara hears about many things in larger world around her, such as the Underground Railroad and the prospect of freedom in Canada.  But how can a young girl without a plan or a map hope to make it to freedom?

Clara finds a way to combine her sewing skills with both courage and patience and the chance to make a break toward freedom appears.  Can her quilt guide her and the ones she loves to a place of safety and peace?  Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is an unforgettable story sure to inspire readers of any age or background.


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Written by Deborah M. Chocolate, Illustration by Cal Massey

What happens when it’s Kwanzaa time?  This book tells the exciting story of this holiday from the perspective of a young boy.  Throughout the days of Kwanzaa, this family dresses in special ways, greet relatives and visitors, listen to stories about the family and from Africa and share wonderful activities that bring everyone together in a very meaningful way.

A beautifully written story, this book for young readers shares special moments in a family’s celebration plus the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a history of the holiday that will inspire any reader.

Highly recommended!


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Written by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated By Bryan Collier

What is it like to grow up feeling like a second-class citizen?

Doreen Rappaport’s book explains the climate of racism and prejudice that existed in the 1950’s when young Martin Luther King, Jr. was growing up.  She also describes his love of the Bible and hymns and how the “big words” that he found there gave him hope, comfort and a sense of peace.  His father was a minister and MLK grew up to become a minister as well, in part to share these important concepts and big words with others.

How do you return love for hatred?  How do you talk about the values of all of God’s children in the face of prejudice and intolerance?  This book tells that story in a realistic and memorable way.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the use of many great MLK quotes to illustrate the text.  These “big words” are still as powerful today as they were decades ago.  This book is well worth picking up and sharing for MLK day or any time of the year to inspire kids (or adults) of all ages.


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Written by Christine King Farris, Illustrated By London Ladd

Almost everyone is familiar with MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August of 1963.  But what led up to that March and what went on during that day?  How did MLK write these important and inspirational words that motivated so many people during the struggle for civil rights and beyond?

The story of the March on Washington is told beautifully by MLK’s sister; Christine King Farris, who gives you a behind the scenes look at the events of that important day when so many people stood up for change that would be as powerful as it was positive.

Although this book was written especially for younger readers, it is highly recommended for anyone interested in the civil rights era or anyone who wishes to be inspired by MLK’s nonviolent means of achieving his vision of peace, justice and equality for all people.


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Written By Christine King Farris, Illustrated by Chris Soenpiet

This beautifully written and illustrated book takes you into the childhood of Martin Luther King as told by his sister, Christine King Farris.  Since most people know the most about MLK as an adult and a civil right leader, Christine wanted people to know about him as a boy and as her brother.  She shares wonderful details about their family life.  You get to meet his father, the minister; his mother, the wonderful musician and his Aunt Ada who often read to the children about a whole world full of interesting things.  She also shares how her brother Martin came to get a sense of the unequal treatment of people and slowly became aware that he might take part in making the world a more just and equitable place.

This is a marvelous book for sharing with kids as it helps them understand the person who came to be Martin Luther King, Jr.  Along with glorious illustrations by Chris Soenpiet, this book will inspire any child to feel they may grow up to do marvelous things in the world from their own humble beginnings.

And my favorite part of this book?  Christine takes the time to mention a hysterical prank that she and her brothers would play on passers-by.  It really made me laugh. By sharing these humorous little moments, the author helps to balance out the serious nature of MLK’s struggle for civil rights while telling an accurate tale of his childhood and personal history.

Highly recommended!


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Written by Deborah M. Chocolate

Illustration by Cal Massey

What happens when it’s Kwanzaa time?  This book tells the exciting story of this holiday from the perspective of a young boy.  Throughout the days of Kwanzaa, this family dresses in special ways, greet relatives and visitors, listen to stories about the family and from Africa and share wonderful activities that bring everyone together in a very meaningful way.

A beautifully written story, this book for young readers shares special moments in a family’s celebration plus the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a history of the holiday that will inspire any reader.

Highly recommended!


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Written By by Patricia C. McKissack
Libby is a young girl that just told a fib and got in trouble for it.  So now she’s determined to tell the truth.  But things aren’t working out the way she planned.  This wonderfully illustrated book set in a Southern, predominantly African-American community is funny, cute and a great message book.  There is a great way to tell the truth and be a good friend at the same time!
Suggested Reading Level – Ages 4 – 8

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Categories : African American
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