By: Shannon Page, MLIS, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
It’s that time of year where we get to celebrate the magic of Black History Month! Join Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as we present innovative programs and exciting titles that will introduce families to the excellence of black culture.
As February approaches, many people mentally prepare themselves to discuss the struggles of slavery, civil rights and segregation. However, African American people are just as much their successes as the difficulties of their past. That is why, this Black History Month, we want to highlight and celebrate their achievements. The brilliance, courage and willingness to overcome challenges are the resounding messages we want to share this Black History Month.
Black Culture is…creative, explorative, compassionate and fun-loving. The following featured titles showcase these qualities and so much more.
Author: Josh Funk Illustrator: Rodolfo Montalvo
Pen pals are a lost art. In this story, two friends trade letters back and forth, sharing their hobbies and interests, but upon meeting each other discover that one of them is a dragon. It’s cute, but I also like anything that might compel a child to write and communicate as an adventure.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
Author: Jamie L. B. Deenihan Illustrator: Lorraine Rocha
A young girl is given a lemon tree for her birthday (which is, of course, not what she asked for) but in the spirit of “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” she learns a valuable lesson. This book comes with a lemonade recipe to boot.
When Aidan Became A Brother
Author: Kyle Lukoff Illustrator: Kaylani Juanita
Growing up misunderstood can be a tough thing for a kid. It can be a very lonely and isolated space, but thankfully, Aidan has parents that can recognize and correct their mistakes. This story is one that does not get the acknowledgement that it deserves within black families. Go on this journey of self-discovery and acceptance as Aidan (identifies as transgender) figures out who he is and will be in his new role as a Big Brother.
Author: Matthew A. Cherry Illustrator: Vashti Harrison
When it comes to most young black girls, haircare and maintenance responsibilities almost always defer to mom. What is most interesting about this book is the role reversal. Here we witness a refreshing father/daughter dynamic that our communities undoubtedly need to see. This story also has an accompanying short film which you can watch here.
Author: Samantha Berger Illustrator: Mike Curato
A girl tries to discover the best way to unleash her many creative ideas into the world through various forms of art. It’s an important lesson in how to find the work that works for you.
A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon
Author: Suzanne Slade Illustrator: Veronica Miller Jamison
Since the movie Hidden Figures came out you can find a lot of children’s books on mathematician Katherine Johnson, who (with other black women) persevered through segregation and racism at NASA to help put man on the moon. #BlackGirlScience for the win!
Sisters: Venus & Serena Williams
Author: Jeanette Winter
Two sisters lie awake in the bed they share in Compton, California. Their parents have decided they’ll learn tennis, so early each morning, Venus and Serena head off to a dirty playground where older boys loiter. Learn about the hard work the Williams sisters put into their careers, the obstacles in their way, and how their eventual successes bonded them.
Author: Lupita Nyong’o Illustrator: Vashti Harrison
I am always wary of celebrity books but this story by actress Lupita Nyong’o has a great message about colorism, which is one of the first things a child of color must contend with. And Harrison’s art is magnificent.
Have You Thanked an Inventor Today?
Author: Patrice McLaurin Illustrator: Dian Wang
A young boy learns about the many things that Black inventors have created through the things he uses every day. It’s a great replacement for the Black History Month calendar with the big portrait of George Washington Carver on it.