Children’s Books for Black History Month

Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”

It could be said that the more painful the history, the more vital the knowledge of it so there can be no chance of ignorant repetition. The national history of the United States is undoubtedly painful. With this in mind, education is paramount.

We frequently use #NeverForget to deepen our roots with the knowledge of painful history, as in the case of the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11 and with good reason. We need to extend that same urgency of remembrance to the slave trade, the institution of slavery and the Jim Crow era. We must never forget. We must learn from our historical mistakes. These remembrances should be at the forefront of our collective consciousness as we seek to reconcile the sins of the past with the dreams of the future.

For the dreams of the future to reach actualization, we need to teach our children about the strength, the courage, and the struggle of the people that made up the abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. We have much to learn from their stories and their individual and collective examples.

  1. Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger
  2. Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson
  3. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
  4. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  5. With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, Hadley, Virginia, 1954 by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  6. 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R Smith Jr
  7. Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
  8. Heart and Soul: The Story Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
  9. March: Book One, Two, and Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
  10. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford

But there is much more to Black History Month. All too often we never get past the stories from slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement. These understandably get the bulk of our historical attention, but it leaves us with an incomplete view. That complete view includes generations of seldom mentioned inventions, contributions, and discoveries made by African Americans. We must reclaim these histories and remember their names. Here is an excellent list to help us bring their names to the forefront of United States’ history.

We must never forget what was. We must reclaim what was left out. And we must remember that representation matters, not only historically, but also in our everyday life.

 

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Books of the Week: 2nd Edition

Here’s the deal. My February so far has been absolute insanity, I’m talking about you-can’t-even-remember-your-name-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of insanity. But the last four days, oh my goodness, the last four days, I don’t even have words for the last four days. Except I do…

The Highlight Reel (which in many places will also be The Blooper Reel):

Thursday:

  • Husband turns 40! Yay, except he teaches (as a college professor) on and off from 9 am to 10 pm.
  • Walk a total of 4 miles back and forth to the girls’ school.
  • Out of boredom (HA!), decide to make chicken pot pie from scratch (the husband’s favorite and it is his birthday after all). Does not go as planned aesthetically, see patchwork, holey pie crust, but is done…2 hours early (oops!). Cold chicken pot pie is everyone’s favorite, right?!
  • Get all the kids in bed by myself at a responsible hour, only to realize not one of them finished their homework.
  • Tried to read books for future blog post…pretty sure I fell asleep at 8:30.

Friday:

  • Goal of the day: finally celebrate 40.
  • But first, get the girls to school.
  • Get ready to take a friend who is new to the country shopping for a Valentine’s Day present for her husband. This reminds me I still haven’t given her the Christmas present I got her (oops).
  • Get out Christmas present.
  • 15 minutes before leaving, the three-year-old decides to find something behind our university classroom sized white board only to realize he can’t hold it up so he moves (thankfully for him) and the full weight of the white board falls on my bare foot.
  • @*#%&!!!!!!
  • Quite sure my foot is broken, I still have to take my friend shopping, it means a great deal to her to do this. So try to get foot in shoe, @*#%&!!!!!! And we’re out the door.
  • Get lost going to a house I know how to get to.
  • Finally get to house and realize I forgot her gift…again.
  • It is now 10:30 am, I have to pick up 2 of my daughters for dentist appointments at 12:30 pm. No problem.
  • At 12:45 pm pick up daughters for dentist.
  • Appointments last 2 minutes.
  • Cruelly take the daughters back to school for a half an hour, because MY FOOT!
  • Call all doctors’ offices I can think of, no one has any available appointments.
  • Pick up girls from school and realize I have to wait for husband to get home before going to Urgent Care so he can drive me home if foot is broken.
  • Remember that goal of the day, this is decidedly NOT it.
  • All drive to Urgent Care 30 minutes away. Turns out that is only a Pediatric Urgent Care, who knew?!
  • Drive to second Urgent Care “just around the corner.”
  • Another 30 minutes later walk into a standing room only facility with an “oh I think it will only be an 1 1/2 to 2 hours” wait.
  • Nope. Broken foot or no, we can’t do this.
  • Husband puts kids to bed after eating sandwiches for dinner while a very gracious, kind friend comes over to check on my foot. Prognosis: get x-rays.

Saturday:

  • Goal of the day: get ready for the 3-years-old’s birthday party
  • Instead, pack up the car like we’re going on vacation and drive to best Urgent Care 45 minutes away.
  • Leave in time to get there right as it opens.
  • Get lost going to a place I know how to get to (again) and arrive 30 minutes after opening. 1 1/2 hour wait. Again.
  • Husband and kids go to Ikea around the corner. I try to not get influenza, strep, or any other contagion incubating in the Urgent Care.
  • 1 1/2 hours later to the dot x-rays show no break (phew)!
  • Drive 45 minutes home.
  • T-minus 4 hours until party time.
  • Cupcake making time, except no eggs or butter
  • 10 minutes after husband gets back from eggs and butter run, realize I never got gifts for the goody bags.
  • Husband comes back from shopping for goody bag items with all the other things I never realized we were missing (he’s fantastic like that).
  • Make cupcakes, dinner, assign children to cleaning and laminating game pieces for party games.
  • Keep waiting for Amazon delivery of stickers I am using in almost all the games only to check delivery date and realize it is NEXT Saturday they will arrive.
  • Despite it all, party is a success, deemed “perfect” by the almost 4-year-old.

Sunday:

  • Get home from church, after making my first public announcement (a nerve-filled event for this introvert) only to realize that there was a huge smear of white frosting all down the side of my butt. Yep, that happened, in real life.

Wow. That feels a lot better saying that all “out loud.”

What?! You’re just here for the books? Oh, right, books…

Books. It should be noted that none of the following have been read since Wednesday, but before that we were on it.

Younger Kids:

Older Kids:

Family Read Aloud:

Here’s to a more normal pace this week, less public humiliation, and always, good books.

Immigration: Fiction Books to Read

I realize there are precious few words left to say about immigration to the United States of America. Don’t worry, this is not a political treatise.

As is usually the case, I have found myself referring back to books that resonated with me on this issue. Over the last several years, many excellent books have been written featuring immigration as one of the main characters. These books serve to either give us solace in the realization that we are not alone in our experience or they give us access to a perspective we may not have considered, much less experienced. While I would not go as far as to say that you can “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” simply by reading a story, I will say that the understanding gained through seeing the world through another person’s story is invaluable.

These are stories of fiction, but that does not dampen their impact. May you enjoy them as much as I have.