This time of year, you may have noticed that Black History Month book lists and activities start appearing in parenting and educational resources all over the web. But did you know that the #OwnVoices hashtag on social media seeks to highlight marginalized voices all year long?
The purpose of the #OwnVoices initiative is to improve diversity in the publishing industry by emphasizing the importance of having authors identify with the subject they are writing about. So to celebrate Black History Month, you can purchase and read books written by black authors.
It’s also important to seek out information about black change-makers and history all year long. According to Danielle Slaughter of Mamademics, “Black history is American history.” To raise conscious and justice-driven change-makers of our own, it’s important to expose our kids to stories that support these values.
Start today by reading these awesome books with your kids:
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson. Kadir Nelson’s breathtaking illustrations bring this book to life. He was inspired by the song’s simple message and wanted to capture the joy of living in and engaging with the world. A beautiful book to read with your littles to inspire them to see the interconnectivity among all beings.
- Oprah: The Little Speakerby Carole Boston Weatherford. This book is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood. The reader learns all about the little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” Oprah’s incredible talent and diligence led her to become the host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show. Today, she directs a media empire that includes the Oprah Winfrey Network, O Magazine, a book club, and radio shows.
- Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange and Kadir Nelson. Ntozake Shange’s book is a beautiful window into her childhood growing up around innovators and activists. These change-makers demonstrated the importance of black culture in America, and because of their actions and activism, they changed the world.
- Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins. Learn about 52 icons from black culture, past and present. This collection of stories is sure to encourage, inspire, and empower the next generation of change-makers.
- Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum. This book features 15 stories of fearless female scientists. These women advanced their STEM fields, and each built a legacy of her own. Not only are these stories inspirational, but they will also inspire kids of all ages to take risks, dream big, and work hard.
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison and Kwesi Johnson. Inspire kids of all ages with this beautifully illustrated and engaging book. It brings to life true stories of black men in history who blazed a trail for generations to come.
- Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome.This engaging story chronicles Frederick Douglass’s life as a child. Kids will be inspired to find their own voices and stand against injustice when they see it in their communities and schools..
- Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. This book takes the reader through one boy’s experience during the Great Migration. Itk also includes important information about historical context to support your learner’s understanding.
After reading a few of these books with your child, extend their learning by conducting research as a family on a particular #OwnVoices black author or highlight one black change-maker each week in February. Encourage and guide your child to brainstorm the questions they still have about events, vocabulary words, or people from the story and support them in finding the answers. Culminate their learning by creating art, writing poetry or prose, or designing a project together. Amplify your child’s voice by encouraging them to share what they learned with family and friends.
More Resources to Extend Your Learning at Home
- Mamademic’s Black History is American History mini monthly curriculum teaches children (and their parents) about black history all year long.
- Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition organizing for racial justice in education. They encourage all educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations to join their annual “Week of Action in Our Schools” during the first week of February each year.
- Find more books by exploring “#ReadingBlackout:Children’s Books by African American Authors” by Helping Kids Rise.
- Explore the PBS article “Teaching Your Child About Black History Month” to find out more ways to teach your child about Black History Month.
- Head to Social Justice Books’ Black History books to learn about black leaders all year long.
By April Brown (M.Ed), writer and education consultant based in Austin, TX.