Media Reviews: Books for Black History Month

Chase Gartland
Follow Your Dreams, Little One

Follow Your Dreams, Little One by Vashti Harrison

This board book is an abbreviated version of the author’s “Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History.” Simplified for a toddler-aged audience, the book features brief descriptions of noteworthy Black men throughout history. Included are artists (Aaron Douglas), athletes (Bill Russell), scientists (Charles R. Drew) and other heroes, along with a message encouraging young readers to be their best and follow their dreams. Cute illustrations will charm toddlers and grown-ups alike. FOR AGES 1-3

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Deep brown; amber brown; radiant brown; thundering brown. Showcasing warm, joyful illustrations, this book is a celebration of the narrators’ beloved brown skin. The lyrical language explores the joys of family, nature, home and history while embracing the beauty of a diverse group of children. The poetic style is a great introduction to figurative language and will include some new vocabulary words for young readers. FOR AGES 5-8

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman, afterword by Philip Freelon

Philip Freelon grew up in Philadelphia surrounded by art. But while Phil exceled in drawing, math and science, reading remained a constant struggle. When he discovered his talent for drafting and architecture, Phil—inspired by growing up during the civil rights movement—decided to use his talents to make positive contributions to social justice, eventually becoming the architect for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. This is an inspiring story of a Black STEAM role model who drew inspiration from his heritage, family and community. FOR AGES 8-12

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne

Too often, stories of the American suffrage movement focus exclusively on white women and their stories. But while Susan B. Anthony and other white suffragettes were working toward the right to vote, Black women in the United States were fighting for rights that were even more basic. “Lifting as We Climb” details the progress of Black women, from those who formed anti-slavery societies in the 1830s all the way to those who are still working to fight voter suppression today. The book includes timelines, photographs and brief biographies of key figures, helping to bring this important story to life. FOR AGES 10-14

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This debut novel from Nigerian American author Jordan Ifueko tells the story of Tarisai, a young girl who has always longed for a sense of connection and belonging after being raised by a mysterious figure known only as The Lady. Tar finally has a chance to belong as she competes to join the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven, but The Lady has put a curse on Tarisai, compelling her to kill the Crown Prince. Will Tar find the strength to make her own destiny? This fantasy novel incorporates elements of West African mythology and culture and would be a great read for fans of Tomi Adeyemi or Nnedi Okorafor. FOR TEENS

Try This Website

National Gallery of Art African American Artists Collection

The National Gallery of Art maintains a web page that features a selection of works by African American artists in the museum’s collection. Explore images ranging from photography to painting to sculpture. The description of each piece features a link to the artist’s page, which includes further information such as related works and artist biographies. FOR AGES 8 AND OLDER

Chase Gartland is an information services specialist at the Franklinton branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

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Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration