Are your bookshelves ready for Black History Month?

America’s 40th Black History Month begins today. Here are several links to help you find relevant books to read with your children or students throughout the month.

  1. 28 Books that Affirm Black Boys and 20 Books that Affirm Black Girls: These two lists from Baby & Blog are a great starting point.
  2. 28 Days Later campaign: Throughout February, The Brown Book Shelf blog will feature guest posts and Q&As from authors and illustrators of color. The line-up looks fantastic!
  3. Top 100+ Recommended African American Children’s Books: Titles compiled by the African American Literature Book Club. This list could keep you busy till next February!

Help Jennyann Carthern paint African-American youth

Jennyann Carthern

Jennyann Carthern is an artist with a mission. She recently launched a project, “Painting Black Faces,” in which she aims to paint 50 faces of African-American children in grades K-5. Her goal is both personal — to improve her artistic skills — and political — to celebrate the variety of skin colors in our world and help children “love the skin they’re in.”

Jennyann plans to compile the portraits into a children’s book. In her video about the project, she shares that as a young artist, impressionist painters were her heroes, but later on she wanted to see more people like herself in artwork.

“Right now in children’s picture books, there’s not a lot of diversity, but that is changing, and I wanted to be a part of that change,” she says.

So, how can you help? If you are the parent of an African-American or multiracial child, Jennyann is asking you to send her a high-quality photo of your child, along with some information about their personality. Those who participate will get an 8×10″ print of the painting she creates. Read more details and instructions at her website.

Two Picture Books About … Queens of Music

Mahalia and MelbaMahalia Jackson and Melba Liston had a number of things in common. One was their love of music. Another was their talent.

Mahalia sang gospel. Melba played trombone. Both stood up for the rights and dignity of African-Americans.

These exceptional women are celebrated in the books, “Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens,” written by Nina Nolan and illustrated by John Holyfield (2015), and “Little Melba and Her Big Trombone,” written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison (2014).

Continue reading