Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Create Your Own African American Library


Many years ago, 10 to be exact, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting author Dorothy Ferebee.  She was a guest speaker at a Mocha Moms event and had come to share about her recent book How to Create Your Own African American Library: A Selection of Books That Belong In Every Home From Classic Novels to Children's Stories To History and Biography. I had been collecting African American books for children since the birth of KingMan and was thrilled to have a definitive guide.  Ms. Ferebee shared something in her talk that I never forgot.  She said that most African American children's books are not written by African Americans.  I was perplexed.  She explained the reasons why, but I have since forgotten them.  Fast-forward to 2014 and the blog The Brown Book Shelf, which demonstrates to me that times have changed.

The Brown Bookshelf showcases African Americans who write and illustrate children and teen books with themes that speak to African American youth. During Black History Month, for 28 days, the blog features a month-long spotlight on the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans.  I love this idea! Whenever I read the author's note to my children, they roll their eyes because they just want to hear the stories.  Not only will I continue to read the author's note, but we'll also hop on over to the Brown Bookshelf to read the author's spotlight.  Since I just discovered this blog, I plan to head to the local library to locate the books we have not read that are featured for Black History Month 2014.  To the founders of The Brown Bookshelf, bravo for a job well done!
I grew up listening to Hip Hop and my children listen to the music (the cleanest we can find), so it was nice to read about it's history in this picture book.
I definitely plan to read this book with both of my boys.  The illustrator is one of my favorites, and the subject matter is close to my family's heart.  My sons recently lost their father; maybe this book will lead to some healing conversations.

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