A post from Sydney and Ms. Lorraine.
One way to recognize and honor Black History Month is to read books with your family that feature the African American experience, and that are written or illustrated by African Americans. Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing African American authors and illustrators to choose from on our library shelves! There are so many that is hard to choose just a few to highlight here. We highly encourage you try some of these with your family this month, and beyond!
We have to start with the wonderful Pinkney Family! Jerry Pinkney is a Philadelphia-born author and illustrator. He has illustrated over 100 books since 1964, including picture books, nonfiction titles and novels. Pinkney's works address diverse themes and are usually done in watercolors. He has received multiple awards for his illustrations and his contributions to the field of children's literature. Jerry’s wife, Gloria Jean Pinkney, is also an author, and several of their children are prolific authors or artists as well. Search for the name “Pinkney” in our catalog—you will be amazed at how many titles come up!
Here are just a few other ideas for picture books authors and illustrators:
- Kadir Nelson (e.g., We Are the Ship: the Story of the Negro Baseball League)
- Donald Crews (e.g., Freight Train)
- Faith Ringgold (e.g., Tar Beach)
- Natasha Tarpley (e.g., I Love My Hair!)
- John Steptoe (e.g., Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: an African Tale)
Jacqueline Woodson has written books for all ages but may be best known for her works for middle grader readers: e.g., Harbor Me (a novel) and Brown Girl Dreaming (her beautiful memoir in verse). You can read her many picture books--including The Day You Begin, Show Way, or The Other Side (illustrated by the equally wonderful E.B. Lewis)--with young children. On their own, adults would enjoy Red at the Bone or Another Brooklyn. Here are just a few more ideas if you are looking for African American authors for middle graders:
- Sharon M. Draper (e.g., Stella by Starlight
- Kwame Alexander (e.g., Crossover)
- Jerry Craft (e.g., New Kid)
- Rita Williams-Garcia (e.g., One Crazy Summer)
- Kwame Mbalia (e.g., Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky)
- Mildred D. Taylor (e.g., Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry)
- Christopher Paul Curtis (e.g., Bud, Not Buddy)
- Renee Watson (e.g., Ways to Make Sunshine)
It’s wonderful to see more and African American authors appearing on the YA shelves. Sydney just read a recent publication, Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn, and highly recommends it for fantasy YA fans. Here are a few more of authors to try—they offer contemporary fiction, fantasy, novels in verse.
- Angie Thomas (e.g., The Hate U Give)
- Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone series)
- Elizabeth Acevedo (e.g., Clap When You Land)
- Jason Reynolds (e.g., Long Way Down)
- Bethany Morrow (A Song Below Water)
- Walter Dean Myers (e.g., Monster)
Are any of your favorites listed here? There are so many more to choose from. Commemorate Black History Month with us this month and check out some of these great reads. We think you'll discover some new favorites to keep enjoying all year!