All posts in the African-American category

Women of Hope: African Americans who Made a Difference, by Joyce Hansen

Published June 30, 2013 by Dagmar

Women of HopeI love to read parts of this book aloud to my students during African-American history month.  This book features quotes, black and white photographs and a page about many notable African-American women, including: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, The Delany Sisters, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ella Josephine Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Marian Wright Eledman, Alica Walker, Alexa Canady, Mae C. Jemison with a list of more notable women in the back of the book.

This book makes a great resource for teachers or a wonderfully inspiring book for young people.  Read a page here and there, or read the entire book.  Either way, don’t miss it.

Corduroy, by Don Freeman

Published June 10, 2013 by Dagmar

corduroy 1 I think I read this book to my son about a million times – no, two milion times.  It’s a book I remember loving from my own childhood.  This book doesn’t seem to age.  The best thing, though, is to see the looks on the faces of my preschoolers and kindergartners when I read them this book.

Corduroy is a about a little teddy bear sitting on the shelf of a department store who is missing a button on his overalls.  A little girl named Lisa wants to buy Corduroy, but her mother won’t let her, because he doesn’t look new.  A button is missing on Corduroy’s overalls.  That night, after the store closes, Corduroy searches the department store for a button to fix his overalls.  Lisa, determined to bring Corduroy home, returns the next day with all her savings so that she can buy Corduroy, despite his missing button.  In a very sweet ending scene, as Lisa sews on a new button to Corduroy’s overalls, both Corduroy and Lisa realize that they’ve each found a friend.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Published June 2, 2013 by Dagmar

OCSOne Crazy Summer is an incredible book – not only because much of the book takes place just blocks from my school library in North Oakland, CA – but because the main character, Delphine, is a strong and capable 11 year old girl who really knows how to make the best of a bad situation.  I love her strength and her determination.  This book ran like wildfire around my school.

Delphine, Vonetta and Fern are three girls, 11, 9 and 7, who live with their father and Big Ma, their grandmother, in Brooklyn, NY.  Their mother, Cecile abandoned them when Fern was just a baby.  One summer, the girl’s father says the girls need to know their mother and sends them across the country to stay with their mother in Oakland, CA.  The girls, who don’t know their mother at all, are greeted by Cecile at the airport.  Cecile not only doesn’t hug them, when she takes them home, she doesn’t cook for them or care for them in any way.  Cecile sends them off every day to get their breakfast from the Black Panthers kitchen in the neighborhood and tells the girls to spend the day in the Black Panthers’ summer camp.  The girls learn all about revolution but also that the Black Panthers feed hungry people.  They also discover that their mother, a poet with a printing press, has been asked to print the Black Panther newsletter.

Delphine rises to the occasion.  She rejects her mother’s call to eat Chinese food every night and goes to the store so she can cook meals for her sisters.  She even plans an excursion into San Francisco so that the girls can actually see something of California, not just “poor people in Oakland”.  Delphine is smart. You just can’t help routing her on and hoping that her mother can see all the good that we see in her.

This book is a window into the world of the 1960s and those who believed in the work of the Black Panthers and those in the black community who saw things differently.  Delphine is forced to view both worlds, that of her father and grandma and that of her mother Cecile.  What a great book.  But, don’t just believe me.  This book won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor and National Book Award Honor.  Don’t miss it.

I’m excited to read Rita Williams-Garcia’s new book, P.S. Be Eleven.

Of Thee I sing, by Barack Obama

Published May 30, 2013 by Dagmar

of theeI find this book incredibly inspiring.  Many thanks to Amelie’s Bookshelf for the recommendation.  I went out and bought it and used it for my final week of library classes.  I read it to students in grades 1-5.

President Obama’s book is a letter to his daughters about the people that made our country wonderful.  He starts, by saying, “Have I told you that you’re creative?” and then talks about Georgia O’Keefe.  Each page, he talks about a quality exemplified by the person he highlights, including Helen Keller, Cesar Chavez, Neil Armstrong, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jane Addams, Abraham Lincoln, Maya Lin, Sitting Bull and others.  Some people, like Georgia O’Keefe, Maya Lin, Jane Addams and Helen Keller were less familiar to my students.  It was nice to have the opportunity to talk about these amazing people and the importance of their work.  Most importantly, President Obama finishes the book by saying that America is full of people of all different races, religions and ideas.

This book is a beautiful, touching book.  It’s especially great to share.  The illustrations by Loren Long are wonderful.  My students quietly while I read the book to them (good quiet, not bored quiet).  Afterward, we went from student to student and talked about which person or people inspired them the most.  I loved hearing students talk about the people that inspired them, particularly when they mentioned people they’d first learned about in the book.

The stories of Ezra Jack Keats

Published May 15, 2013 by Dagmar

Snowy DayEzra Jack Keats (1916-1983) wrote so many wonderful books for children.  I think most notable for me, as a children’s librarian in a school that serves mostly children of color, is that Ezra Jack Keats, although john henrywhite, made his characters all African American.  It is really refreshing to reach to my shelves and show my students books with children that look like them. Of course, it’s not only that fact that makes me create multiple story times using Ezra Jack Keats’ stories.  His books deal with universal problems that all children growing up face.  I think he is so popular in my library today, because can relate to Peter and the situations he finds himself in.

a letter to amyThey want to whistle like Peter in a Whistle for Willie, or be friends with a girl without getting teased, like Peter in A Letter to Amy, or keep a snowball overnight like Peter in The Snowy Day or figure out how to deal with bullies, like in the book Goggles.

whistle for willieEzra Jack Keats wrote the following books: my favorite, The Snowy Day, as well as A Whistle for Willie, A Letter to Amy, Goggles, Pet Show, Peter’s Chair, Apt. 3, and John Henry and others.  Snowy Day won the Caldecott Medal in 1963.

If you haven’t read Ezra Jack Keats’ books for children, I think you’ll really enjoy reading them and introducing a new group of young students to his beautiful illustrations and writing.