Kelly Starling Lyons.
Black children’s book authors, and especially African American parents and any other moms who care about children’s literature—especially the books that chronicle stories by/about/for kids of color—should be thanking God for this Fab Five. For their dedication. Their perseverance. And their love for our beautiful babies.
Because this Fab Five, a consortium of children’s book authors and illustrators, are the brain trust behind the brilliant website, The Brown Bookshelf. The site, created in the Fall of 2007, was designed to showcase the rich selection of children’s books by and about African Americans—books that all-too-often get short shrift when it comes to mainstream media coverage, bookstore placement, and awards recognition. The site is rich with resources; you’ll find an incredible list of books for kids of every age—from picture books for infants to novels for young adults—as well as a fine list of publishers, imprints, and book review organizations dedicated to multicultural children’s literature.
And right now, as a part of its second annual “28 Days Later” campaign, the Brown Bookshelf is showcasing 28 under-promoted or little known authors and illustrators—one for each day of Black History Month. Authors like MyBrownBaby favorites Derrick Barnes, Andrea Pinkney, Deborah Gregory, Sharon Draper, Jacqueline Woodson, and Tia Williams are being profiled alongside unsung children’s book heroes like authors Evelyn Coleman and Philana Marie Boles and illustrators London Ladd and Nicole Tadgell. It’s a fascinating, insightful campaign that gives us VIP access to black authors and illustrators we would otherwise have had little chance to read about or meet.
I absolutely adore The Brown Bookshelf not only because I can find out about the latest literature for Mari and Lila's burgeoning collection of African American children’s books, but because the Fab Five did something not enough of us black authors have dared to do: Instead of complaining about the lack of diversity on book shelves and in book reviews, these five authors/illustrators did something to help change the industry. Because of them, there’s now an incredible resource for librarians and teachers looking for diverse titles. And we lovers of brown babies have instant access to this rich resource, too.
To read the wonderful “28 Days Later” profiles on The Brown Bookshelf as well as the latest in black chidren's book news, click here. To take a peek at The Brown Bookshelf’s library, click here.
And, as always, support African American children's book authors. They do what they do for little money and barely any recognition or accolades--all so that our children can see themselves reflected in the best source of entertainment any of our kids could EVER have: a book.