Black history month has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean we suddenly turn a blind eye to black history, issues, and culture. Black voices are often under-represented in children’s literature, which is why Groundwood is proud to offer a wide selection of books that relate directly to black history and experiences.
Here are four books to help you and your children celebrate black history any month of the year:
I See the Promised Land by Arthur Flowers tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. in a graphic narrative-style, illustrated by Indian scroll painter Manu Chitrakar.
The book gives a complete look at the social climate Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) lived in and the historical conditions that informed his fight for civil rights, leaving no stone unturned. Arthur Flowers touches on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, MLK’s involvement in the formation of civil rights groups, the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, and more.
I See the Promised Land encourages children to learn more about civil rights by introducing them to the influence that Mahatma Gandhi had on Martin Luther King Jr., and the method of nonviolent resistance that helped both leaders achieve their goals. Flowers also introduces kids to the challenges that MLK faced with the rise of Malcolm X and the Black Power Movement—both of whom fought for the same rights as MLK, but did so in a manner that conflicted with Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent methods.
I See the Promised Land concludes with a look at MLK’s legacy, and a note on the Patua art that Manu Chitrakar used throughout the book. I See the Promised Land is suitable for children ages 10 and up.
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged (Ages 5-9)
Written by Jody Nyasha Warner
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged tells the story of Viola Desmond (July 6, 1914 – February 7, 1965), a business woman who challenged racial segregation at a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946 by refusing to leave a whites-only seating area. For her defiance, she was removed from the theatre, arrested, thrown in jail overnight, and fined.
Upon her release, Viola Desmond fought the charges, but lost her battle in court. Her determination, however, inspired strength in her community, and she became a hero and an icon in the struggle against injustice and racial segregation in North America.
In 2010 Viola Desmond was given a posthumous free pardon by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, the first to ever be granted in Canada, and was also issued a formal apology by the government of Nova Scotia.
Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged, illustrated by Nova Scotia-based artist Richard Rudnicki, Jody Masha Warner, tells the story of Viola Davis in a way that is suitable for children ages 5-9.
Music from the Sky (Ages 3-6)
Written by Denise Gillard
Illustrated by Stephen Taylor
Nana’s Cold Days (Ages 3 and Under)
Written by Adwoa Badoe
Illustrated by Bushra Junaid
Music from the Sky tells the story of a young girl and her grandfather as they set out one morning to find the perfect branch to carve. He wants to make a flute for her out of the branch they find, but the young girl doubts his abilities. She has seen flutes before, and knows that flutes are not made out of wood.
Music from the Sky, suitable for children ages 3-6 and illustrated by Stephen Taylor, captures the special relationship between a girl and her grandfather and takes place in one of Canada’s oldest black communities.
In Nana’s Cold Days, Ken and Rama have been looking forward to their Nana’s visit from Africa for months. But Nana lands in Canada in the middle of winter and she finds the weather too cold to bear. Nana covers herself in sheets and blankets and refuses to go anywhere until she comes down with the croup and has to figure out how to get better. Suitable for children ages 3 and under, the book is illustrated by Bushra Junaid using a unique collage style to bring this warm family story to life.