I write this in light of the lack of indictments and a failed racist "joke" as Jacqueline Woodson received her well earned National Book Award for, "Brown Girl Dreaming." Though I am tempted to comment and link to articles and type type type, I want to honor the reason I began this blog, and simply recommend books that can aid discussion with young children.
Lee & Low Books put out a list: 5 Books That Build Confidence in African American Children
This was first posted in the wake of the verdict of the Trayvon Martin case. I would add one more, a book from Kelly Starling Lyons, "One Million Men and Me".
The setting for this book is the Million Man March which took place in Washington DC in 1995. I think this is quite apropos of the current and daily marches and demonstrations around the country. Children may have questions about why people gather together, this is a good launching pad for that discussion. This book is also told from a child's point of view which is so important to examine- children see what we are seeing too. I think adults sometime think that images and words meant for adult ears aren't absorbed by a child's, but that is not the case. Lyons empowers the reader through this girl, a young witness to a historical event with words like:
Everywhere I looked, fathers and sons, friends and strangers, clasped hands in unity. Their faces filled with pride. Their hearts swelled with hope. I held my head a little higher. Daddy said they missed school to join in purpose and peace. Drums thumped. I felt the magic. And I held my head a little higher.
I am an elementary school librarian in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Through the work of creating a more representative and inclusive library collection for my students, I learned a lot about the politics of the publishing industry, the accepted institutional racism and purposeful exclusion of communities in books and that we should be outraged at the continued disenfranchisement of our children.
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