(No) Black History Month

January 26, 2021
books

It seems fitting that just after we celebrate the inauguration of the first woman of color in the role of Vice President, we now enter the month our nation has set aside to pay tribute to the history and contributions of African Americans.  Like many of you, I was blown away by the poise and strength of young Amanda Gorman as she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” after the inauguration of President Biden and Vice-President Harris.

We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished…

– Amanda Gorman

These lines remind me of the work that 2020 has left for us to complete.  There was a stirring up of protest this past year against those things that are not just and are yet unfinished.

Thus, as we enter February 2021, we, at Neighborhood North have decided to celebrate the (No) Black History Month instead. We welcome you to join us! Above you will find our favorite adult, teen, and children’s book recommendations to get you started, along with several links to other helpful (No)Black History Month resources below. Stories and language are a powerful part of the play and learning experience, and we propose shifting your perspective as you read these poems, essays, and stories to notice the many people of color who have helped to build the legacy of excellence in all areas of culture, science, literature, government, medicine, education, the arts, etc.- not just in February, but every day. Look for relevant and appropriate ways to expose children to the beauty of diversity so that it becomes a part of everyday conversation and not a token celebration once a year. My deep hope for 2021 is that, as we read these stories together with our children in a posture of learning, as we seek out ways to expose our families to more diversity, we might gain empathy and move closer to a shared narrative with our black and brown neighbors. This work of equity is the daily work of being light.

When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

–Amanda Gorman

 

 


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Book description: A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall's back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.

An NCTE 2021 Notable Poetry Book
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2020
A Washington Post Best Book of 2020
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year
A 2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honoree

RESOURCES:

26 African-American History Books to Read with Your Kids

Now Read This! Books that Promote Race, Identity, Agency, and Voice

19 BLACK CHILDREN’S BOOKS BY BLACK AUTHORS

Five African Children’s Books To Fuel Your Child’s Mind

Award-Winning African American Books

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