Archive for the ‘Black History Month’ category

Black History Month

February 2, 2017

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to honor the accomplishments of black Americans and the and contributions they have made to our country.

Below are some wonderful nonfiction picture books to read and share.


Freedom in Congo Square written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie


Freedom Over Me written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan


 Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton


Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E. B. Lewis


Martin and Mahalia: His Words Her Song written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney


Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of  Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson


Marvelous Cornelius: Hurrican Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleanwritten by Phil Bildner and illustrated by John Parra


My Name Is James Madison Hemings written and illustrated by Jonah Winter

America has a rich history of accomplishments made by African Americans and by many others who are a part of our diverse population. That’s what makes this country so great!


In Celebration of Black History Month

February 4, 2016

February is Black History Month.  There are many excellent books dealing with the tragedies, triumphs, and accomplishments of African-Americans. Below is a short list of fiction and non-fiction picture books to share with young readers. Enjoy them, discuss them, and celebrate the successes Black Americans have made and how they have helped shape the history and culture of our country.


The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate

Brick by Brick written by Charles R. Smith, Jr. and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

The Cart That Carried Martin written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Don Tate

Freedom in Congo Square written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Michele Wood

Jazz Age Josephine written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison

Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence written by Gretchen Woelfle and illustrated by Alix Delinois

Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman: Olympic High-Jump Champion written by Heather Lang and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Two Friends:  Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass written by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome


A Dance Like Starlight written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Firebird written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers

The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen written by Thelma Lynne Godin and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Frank Morrison

White Water: inspired by a true story written by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Wind Flyers written by Angela Johnson and illustrated by Loren Long

“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” ~ Carter Woodson




February 12, 2015

If you’re looking for an inspiring book to celebrate Black History Month, take a look at Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band. This book, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Colin Bootman, demonstrates how goodness and hard work can change a bad situation into a good one.

The Reverend Daniel Jenkins was a man with a kind heart and a vision. Once a slave and an orphan, he knew what it was like not to have a place to call home. In 1891 he opened an orphanage for homeless boys in Charleston, South Carolina. He asked for money from the town council to help support the boys. When that was not enough, the word went out the orphanage was looking for old band instruments people no longer wanted. The boys polished them and Reverend Jenkins found people to teach the boys how to play. Before long, the Jenkins Orphanage Band was established. The music they played was influenced by their African-American ancestors who lived on the South Carolina and Georgia coast. While some of the boys played their music, other boys danced. They twisted, twirled, tapped their toes, knocked their knees, and flapped their arms. The boys played on street corners to earn money. Their African-style music became known as “rag.” When there still wasn’t enough money to support the orphanage, Reverend Jenkins took the band to New York City. The people in New York liked what they saw and imitated the dance movements. The Band earned enough money to buy a larger place for the orphans where Reverend Jenkins made sure the boys learned school subjects and trades, but music was the main thing. The Jenkins Orphanage Band was so well-known it marched in the President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade and played in London at the Anglo-American Exposition in 1914. It was during that time Britain declared war on Germany. It was the beginning of World War I. The band had booked passage on a ship to take them safely back to American, but other Americans weren’t as lucky. A man who Reverend Jenkins had known in Charleston and who had given a large sum of money to the orphanage was stranded. The Reverend realized he had enough money left over from the band’s earnings to buy tickets for his friend and other stranded Americans. Once again Reverend Jenkins had turned something bad into something good. This was a man who had a vision and was an excellent role model. He provided a safe place for orphans, made music a large part of their lives, and educated them so they would be able to provide for themselves.

The author’s note at the end of the books offers more background information. You might be surprised to learn many well-known musicians were influenced by the music of the Jenkins Orphanage Band.

The orphanage Reverend Jenkins opened in 1891 is now known as the Jenkins Institute for Children.

Celebrating the African-American Music Culture

February 5, 2015

I grew up in a house that was filled with music. Even though none of us sings well or plays an instrument, we listened to all types of music and wrapped our heads and hearts around the many melodies we heard. One of the newest members of our immediate family – our one and only favorite son-in-law – plays the guitar and sings. His preferred music genre is the blues. The guest bedroom in my daughter and son-in-law’s home features prints of talented blues legends who greatly influenced the world of music.

From left to right there’s Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, B.B. King,

photo 1 (71)

Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, and Albert Collins

photo 2 (66)

Blues have been a part of the African-American music culture since slavery times. It has been said that to know the blues, you have to feel the blues.

The great Mahalia Jackson noted, “When black people stop singing the blues, then there’ll be no more nothin’! Because the blues has made American music and they will still be around when all the rock and stuff has gone. The blues is always around.”

Male artists such as those pictured above and women such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, and many others helped shape and define blues music and the music beyond.

February is Black History Month. This year’s theme is A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture. Take some time to educate yourself on the life and times of African Americans and the numerous contributions they have made to our society.

If you like blues, check this book out. It’s great for all ages.


photo 2 (69)

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Lisa Conen

Other suggestions for young music enthusiasts:

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat written by Muriel Harris Weinstein and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

%d bloggers like this: