“Storming the Castle: Blacks in Children’s Literature”

The January 2007 issue of Children’s Writer: Newsletter of Writing and Publishing Trends (Vol. 16. No. 6) offers a recommended article, “Storming the Castle: Blacks in Children’s Literature” by Chris Eboch.

It briefly chronicles the history of African American children’s literature and then highlights its state today. Sources include Don Tate, illustrator of Summer Sun Risin’ by W. Nikola-Lisa (Lee & Low, 2002), author Allison Whittenberg, author/editor Andrea Pinkney, and author Coe Booth.

Arguably, no historically underrepresented group in youth literature has made as significant recent gains as the African-American community–sparkling with creative talent, led by inspiring champions. As we celebrate this success, we also can consider it as a role model for others and an indicator of where the hardest fought battles await. Yet, as is noted in the article, even this, our most successful group, still struggles against industry and societal challenges.

Black History Month in February offers many opportunities to learn more about voices and visions in African American children’s and YA literature. That said, let’s all commit to raising awareness of wonderful books in this area both next month and throughout the year.

Cynsational News & Links

Hot Off the Press: A Sneak Peek at Publishers’ Newest and Hottest Titles from Children’s Book Council. Highlights include: Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Scholastic, 2007)(illustrator interview); Holbrook: A Lizard’s Tale by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Abby Carter (Clarion, 2007); and Sophie Hartley on Strike by Stephanie Greene (Clarion, 2007).

“‘If I Can’ Gets Native Youth Reading for Fun” by Julie Rave of the Missoulian. Learn more about If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, a national reading club for Native American Children. Note: I’m honored that my tween novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) is highlighted among recommended books by Native authors.

“Super Cool Kid Non-fiction” with Kelly Milner Halls: a chat transcript from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly.