To help you share
some special touchpoints of African American history and culture with
your kids, I’ve rounded up a few favorite books on these themes.
Share and enjoy!
I confess, I didn’t really know much about Wilma Rudolph before I read this book to my daughter. The illustrations are amazing and the story can be read aloud, but it is short and simple enough for young readers to handle too. Baby Wilma was born weak and sickly. Polio forced her to wear braces on her legs. Yet she grew up to be the world’s fastest woman. Find out how in this gem of a book!
Poet Nikki Giovanni puts hip-hop beats into child-appropriate form with her new edited book of rhymes old and new for kids. She draws on material from the Harlem Renaissance and material from the radio to share the genre with kids who love rhythm. But no mere book can convey the joy of the music, so this one comes with a fun CD to play along as you read.
With her typical genius, Toni Morrison writes a fictional, first-person narrative of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of children integrating schools. It’s creatively real, featuring black and white photos from the time, but perfectly age-appropriate for a child’s first introduction to a tough, but critically important part of U.S. history.
This is a really cool book! If you don’t know much yourself about the Harlem Renaissance, you’ll learn a lot from this book. It’s a great reference for any age, but geared to older children. Filled with art, poetry, music and vivid scenes of life in Harlem, you won’t want this one to be hidden away in the kids’ room, but displayed on your own coffee table for easy, frequent family browsing.
This lovely story tells of a little girl born into slavery. She is taught to sew in order to gain a place working in the house, rather than the fields. But as she sews her quilt, she begins to create a map north to freedom. Once the quilt is finished, the map is written in her mind. Clara sneaks away to follow the way it taught her, but leaves the quilt behind so that others can learn the way too.