My daughter, Emma, cannot get enough of this fabulous book by Vashti Harrison. The delightful illustrations, the fascinating stories that I wish had flooded the pages of my history textbooks in school when I was growing up. Every time we pick it up, we both learn something new. That's not easy to accomplish, especially when it comes to kids' books. But Harrison does that, and more.
At 2 years old, I'm repeatedly amazed at how patiently she sits and stares at the words and the gorgeous imagery as I read to her about real stories of what it means to be resilient, strong and bold.
There are stories about everyday women who are role models, heroes, revolutionaries...and I for one think we all need to hear more of those stories right now.
This is where we need to lean in and learn. This is where we find the world that could be. This is what hope feels like.
Reading a diverse range of books about communities of color (and/or books written and/or illustrated by authors of color) helps our kids grow up to understand, appreciate and respect all of the magnificent cultural, racial and ethnic diversity that makes up our planet. By reading books like Little Leaders and modeling acceptance and open-mindedness, we can help raise the next generation to be accepting, positive and welcoming of all people. That not only helps us - it helps our kids, too! The data is clear: feeling a sense of belonging and inclusion improves mental health - for kids and adults.
I am glad that we have this month to nationally recognize and celebrate all of the accomplishments of Black and African American people and their diverse, vibrant culture. But this celebration should not be relegated to just the month of February. I prefer to view it as an opportunity to dive a little deeper, to share more with our children about Black and African American culture, traditions and values. To be reminded that Black History is America's History.
There are so many great kids’ books I could recommend honoring Black and African American individuals writing by authors of color. Here are a few to consider stocking on your shelves:
All Because You Matter by Tami Charles (author) and Bryan Collier (illustrator) (ages 4-8)
When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke (ages 6-9)
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History (also by Vashti Harrison) (ages 8-12)
I Am Enough, by Grace Byers (author) and Keturah A. Bobo (illustrator) (ages 4-8)
Change Sings, by Amanda Gorman (author) and Loren Long (illustrator) (ages 4-8)
I also want to give a shout out to @littleblackbooknook by Dolisha. She’s got some amazing suggestions on Instagram.
You know your kid best, and so you know the best ways to celebrate Black History with them - this month and always.