In continuing celebration of Black History Month, here are some suggestions for grrrreat children’s books by, for and about African American characters.
I hope you enjoy this list, which includes some of my recent favorites.
FLYING, by Kevin Luthardt. I love this book! Who would have thought a writer could take something as simple as flying your son around the room, and turn it into a lasting memory between a parent and child? But Kevin Luthardt did. Luthardt is the author and illustrator of Flying, the cutest little picture book for inquisitive 4 to 8 year olds you ever want to read. A little boy reads a book about birds, then asks his father, “Why can’t I fly?” His father explains that he has no wings, and thereafter follows a flurry of, “But why?” questions for the father. This is a wonderful little lap book that is sure to strengthen your parent-child bonding time !
Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. One of the best middle-grade/young adult books I’ve read lately…in fact, I’m wondering why it hasn’t been made into a movie. This is the story of young Bud, a foster child who uses clues left by his mother to search for his father. It is a funny, sad, and very touching story about a courageous little orphan who perseveres in the face of neglect and downright abuse. It had me laughing and boo-hooing in consecutive order! This one you’ve got to read.
Our Children Can Soar: A celebration of Rosa, Barack and the Pioneers of Change, by author and editor Michelle Cook, is one of those books that come along once in a lifetime and just rocks your world! It embraces the simple but memorable phrase that gained fame during President Obama’s election campaign: “Rosa sat so Martin could walk; Martin walked so Barack could run; Barack ran so our children can fly.” From there, it examines the enduring African American spirit, celebrating the wonder of the struggle and the glory of achievement…in the fewest words you’ve ever read. You will definitely be moved by this powerful message, and by the unique manner in which it is illustrated: Not one, but thirteen rising African American artists came together to contribute stunning illustrations to tell this story. From Jessie Owens to Hattie McDaniel, to Rosa Parks to Barack Obama, Our Children Can Soar has something for young and old, children and parents, students and teachers, and historians and art lovers. Everyone—even President Obama himself, should race to the bookstores and grab this one before it’s gone.
Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-discoverer of the North Pole, by Deborah Hopkinson, may be a book about a frozen adventure in the coldest corner of the planet earth, yet it’s the most heart-warming story I’ve read in a long time. It tracks the life, bravado and sense of adventure of African American explorer Matthew Henson, who was born in a humble cabin a year after the Civil War ended. It enlightens history-lovers on the truth about explorer Robert E. Peary’s Arctic adventure, and how if it hadn’t been for Matthew Henson’s skill, bravery and loyalty to Peary, the expedition might never have been a success. Don’t miss out. This is a history lesson, an African American biography, and an old-fashioned good read, all rolled into one!
Time For Kids: President Barack Obama; A Day in the Life of America’s Leader, is like a Book of Knowledge all rolled up in a magazine. It is an educational, photographic and historical accomplishment, and is full of pictures, like the Obama’s walking first dog Bo Obama, the newly-elected President holding wife Michelle’s green-gloved hand; and even diagrams, floor plans, and contemporary and historical photographs to delight the reader. Want a personal tour of the Obama White House? This is it! This book dissects the very essence of “being President,” and includes juicy tidbits about the “first kids” and the “first wife” for good measure. I guess you can tell I love this book!
Well, that’s all the children’s book recommendations I have for you today. I know there are many more wonderful African American children’s books and multicultural books about children of color out there, and if I missed yours, it was certainly not intentional. Feel free to drop me a line about your children’s book, and I’ll be glad to feature it on this site.
Happy Black History Month, and very happy reading!