Submitted by Jeannine from Write On

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Keeping the Flame Burning

Multiple times a day, I put all the books back on my son’s bookcase. He’s two and loves reading his books. He reads them upside down, but that is beside the point. As much as I hate cleaning up, it makes me happy to do
this task on a daily basis. He loves his books. Now, my job is to figure out how to keep that flame burning. How do I accomplish this? Well, with lots of luck, patience and guidance. I know the first thing I need to do is find books that appeal to his two-year old sensibilities. Let me tell you, it’s not to hard to find picture books about trains, planes and automobiles. My next step is to find books where the characters look like him.

Characters That Look Like My Son

Hmm, finding books with African-American boys becomes a little more tricky. They’re out there. It just takes a parent, teacher or librarian to roll up their sleeves, dig a little and find some buried treasure. Start by doing a little informal research. Ask your friends, your child’s teachers and of course your local librarians if they have any recommendations. Spend time at the bookstore and library just exploring. And of course there is Google and Amazon.

It’s Up to Us

Unfortunately you do have to put in a little effort. We shouldn’t have to work this hard to find books for our precious boys but we do. So what can we do to change things? As parents and advocates for children, it is up to us to request these books at the libraries and bookstores. It’s up to us to give gentle suggestions to our children’s teachers if they are reading the same books with the same faces year after year. As parents when we get those invitations to birthday parties, use it as an opportunity to give a great book as a gift and introduce a family to a new author. It can be easy to just stick with the books we grew up with as children, and whatever is on the bestseller list. Those books are great but there are so many gems out there that with just a little digging, you can unearth a fortune. Aren’t our boys worth it? Aren’t all children worth it?

Picture Books That Showcase African Americans

To give you a head start, here are a few picture books I have discovered. I hope you will share the wealth but keep digging. Until next time.
Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts
Our Children Can Soar – Michelle Cook
Neighborhood Mother Goose – Nina Crews
Jones Family Express – Javaka Steptoe
Summer Sun Rising – W. Nikola-LIsa
Bird – Zetta Elliott
Brothers in Hope – Mary Williams
Getting Through Thursday- Melrose Cooper
Deshawn Days – Tony Medina
Babu’s Song- Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
A Million Fish… More or Less – Patricia C. McKissack
Max Found Two Sticks – Brian Pinkney
Low-down, Bad-day Blues – Derrick D. Barnes
Creativity – John Steptoe
I Told You I Can Play – Brian Jordan
Uptown – Brian Collier
Olu’s Dream – Shane W. Evans

Other Resources:

leeandlow.com
thebrownbookshelf.com

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