Before every holiday, event, or season bloggers often get offers from PR firms or publishers offering up books or stories that tie in. Ever since Martin Luther King, Jr. day I myself have had Black History on my mind. Two of the nominees for the Cybils Middle Grade Nonfiction category that I am judging are titles dealing with Civil Rights, Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice and Marching For Freedom, and The Frog Scientist profiles an African American scientist (review to come).
February means that your local bookstores and libraries will have displays filled with pink and red hearts in honor of Valentine’s Day, some books about the presidency in honor of President’s Day, and books championing the African American experience in honor of Black History month.
I am glad for this six-week period of time when I am pulled out of my comfort zone and challenged to look at Black History –even if it’s a painful reality — whether through non-fiction or by reading novels and picture books that share the African American experience.
One of my very favorite things about reading is expanding my borders. More than ever, this year I am reveling in the worlds to which literature introduces me, and making a concerted effort to expand my borders — this month with African American literature and history, but it won’t end there. I hope to continue to explore the culture of those different from me, whether due to their race, class, country of origin or other defining experience (Throughout the year I’ll be taking up S. Krishna’s challenge to read South Asian Authors).
And so while I hope that you take the challenge this month to read some books on your own or share some picture books with your kids, I extend the challenge further. Don’t read “black books” only in February. Add some color throughout your year.
There’s an excellent reader’s response about Black History Month posted at Black-Eyed Susan’s. In it, she reminds us that that “Black History should encompass more than slavery.” I agree wholeheartedly, and I would add Civil Rights to that as well.
I wanted to highlight some of our past reviews of books featuring African American characters that you might want to revisit. Yes, many of them deal with that awful time of slavery and the later years when African Americans had to fight for civil rights, but others also feature regular ol’ people. . . who happen to be African American.
Throughout the month, we’ll feature even more books (see “book bloggers get offers” above). We even have two giveaways up right now: Your choice of books from some African American Living Legends books selected by Hachette books, and two beautiful picture books from Sleeping Bear Press.
Books for children:
Yasmin Peace Series (for tweens)
Obama: The Historic Journey, Young Reader’s Edition
Ruby and the Booker Boys
Jennifer Donovan also blogs at Snapshot.