Monday, February 2, 2009

The Best Place To Find African American Children's Books And Authors Is Here

Paula Chase-Hyman.

Varian Johnson.

Don Tate.

Kelly Starling Lyons.

Carla Sarratt.

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.

Happy reading!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this, Denene. I have bookmarked the site and the featured authors/publishers for further reading.

  2. Thanks for the info! I have to check them out and get some brown books for all of the brown babies in my life.

  3. Must-have info for mommies like us! As usual, we can count on you as a source of information (and inspiration). Thanks for sharing!

    Oh, and thanks for your words of encouragement on my last post. Remind me to give you an extra hug :)

  4. Denene thank you so much for your kind words. I know you know first hand the mountain that is promoting books. We do what we do at the Brown Bookshelf for the love of reading and books, but it is always nice to be appreciated. Thank you!

  5. Denene,

    You have a wonderful blog! Thank you so much for featuring The Brown Bookshelf. We truly appreciate the love. There are so many beautiful books being created for our children and too few receive exposure. Let's celebrate African-American children's book authors and illustrators all year long. Our kids deserve to see their reflections and hear their voices.

    Thanks again for your generosity and support.

  6. i love it! i'm off to glance! i love finding brown girlie books for jk!!! my hubs might not quite be as excited if i buy them all though! ha! thanks for the link up!

  7. Excellent resource!

    I was a reading specialist in my life before kids so this sort of thing makes me happy happy!

    I went through all of lists of books and was so appreciative of the time and energy that went into creating such a valuable resource.

    I'm actually trying to figure out how to link their site to mine. I did see they have their logo available to download but I'm not the most computer-saavy person in the world.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this with us all!

  8. That's a great idea. My parents made it a point to buy me books that had characters that reflected not only my physical characteristics, but my cultural realities as well. I will be visiting them soon! I need to stock up for my kids because unfortunately, their books now aren't as diverse as I'd like. Great post!


  9. This sounds like a great resource. It will certainly cut down on the time I spend scouring the internet for books with babies that look like mine. Thanks for the info.

  10. Denene,

    I love your spirit and everything that you do for us. This is great! When I started boys who d.a.r.e, Inc. five years ago it was so hard finding books for the boys by African American Authors, so this site is a great resource for us. We are looking for more books for our older boys now. The program was originally for boys 5 to 8 years old, but when the boys turned 9 they did not want to leave, so now we serve boys between the ages of 4 - 17. It so exciting to see them share their love for reading with each other.

    So again thanks for the support and keep writing and we will keep reading.

    dream. achieve. READ! empower.

  11. Hey there, Kim!

    I'm so happy for your spirit and everything YOU do for our beautiful brown boys! Don't be afraid to reach out to The Brown Bookshelf for suggestions; they're quite knowledgeable about the industry, and are extremely approachable--and helpful. Just a lovely group of folks! Use them--that's what they're there for, to help dedicated folks like you. Please be sure to let me know how it goes!


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