Hey, remember books?
In case not, you should know that literacy is still celebrated in today’s very digital world. This week marks National Children’s Book Week, a celebration of authors and books that help shape children’s minds. In accordance with the Children’s Book Council, the celebration falls on its 96th year and features events all over the country, but with this good news also comes some harsh realities.
A 2014 study at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, revealed that only 93 out of 3,200 books published in 2013 featured Black characters. As stark as the numbers may seem, there have been plenty of authors who’ve published books about young Black children, varying from blazing adventures around the block, to the importance of self-worth. Here are eight African-American authors who’ve written fantastic books about those topics and more.
1. Kim Wayans
Popular Topic: The actress released several books on the complexities of mixed children dealing with friends, homework, and bullies. With characters every child can relate to, her books became a favorite among parents and teachers.
2. Kadir Nelson
Popular Topic: The award-winning illustrator has stayed consistent in painting beautiful images of Black children and lifestyle in each of his books. From spinning the popular spiritual tune “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” into a captivating picture book, to his portrayal of Nelson Mandela, the author’s words and images blend perfectly.
3. Nikki Grimes
Popular Topic: Grimes, a Coretta Scott King Honoree, has written books focusing on self-love and preservation of Black families and important values. Her latest release, Words With Wings, shows the friendship and lessons learned between a troubled youth and her teacher.
4. Andrea Davis Pinkney
I love reminiscing about my days as a scout. My favorite badge was called “the dabbler.” Please share yours. pic.twitter.com/dC1ZdTyMWD
— Andrea Davis Pinkney (@AndreaDavisPink) May 4, 2015
Popular Topic: The Brooklyn native has published books on prominent African-American figures like Duke Ellington, Benjamin Banneker, and Alvin Alley. Her latest book, The Red Pencil, takes another route by telling a story of a young girl from a Sudanese village.
5. Jacqueline Woodson
Popular Topic: Targeting the narrative of the civil rights movement from the eyes of a child is no easy feat. The Brooklyn native uses her experiences to pen poems and tales that have won many awards, including 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award, and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award, and an ALAN Award — both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. Black. Girls. Rock.
6. Donald Crews
Popular Topic: The late author’s picture books still manage to hold a special place in the heart of readers. Years after publication, the award-winning works on counting and transportation are used in classrooms today.
7. Walter Dean Myers
Popular Topic: While Myers’ works often focused on Black teens, his books are almost a requirement for children to get familiar with.
8. John Septoe
Popular Topic: Septoe’s contribution to literacy has been praised for years. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters continues to be a must-read for not just Black children, but readers of all ages.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty