11-year-old organizes Books N Bros: reading club that lifts up African-American literature and culture #JACBA Newsletter 10Mar2017

Books N Bros’ 11-year-old founder wants to help boys love reading at an age when they often don’t

11-year-old St. Louisan Sidney Keys III started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love of books. He calls it Books N Bros, and the club has an emphasis on making reading fun while lifting up African American literature and culture.

In February, for Black History Month, the group read “A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time,” by Patricia McKissack, a St. Louis-based children’s book author.

For now, the book club has plans to stay boys-only, but Caldwell said there’s another book club called Nerdy Girls, which is aimed at girls between ages 6-12 and has over 75 members. Caldwell and Keys plan on partnering with Nerdy Girls in the future.

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A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter written by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack 1990 Awardee


Books About Girl Power Just in Time for Women’s History Month

A Kid’s Guide to America’s First Ladies By Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Anna DiVito

Updated through 2016, A Kid’s Guide to America’s First Ladies distinguishes the women by time periods and classes, and flows throughout history swimmingly.

Kathleen Krull, a prolific award-winning author of many children’s books, pegs the women as much more than just hostesses – progressive thinkers, confidantes, role models, mothers, political advocates and supportive partners.

Young readers don’t often have access to much information about these hardworking, underappreciated women, and Krull makes sure to point out how demanding their jobs are and how they influenced the course of history with their unique values and ideas.

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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales 2004 Awardee


Children’s literature celebrated at University of Redlands

Yuyi Morales, illustrator and author of numerous award-winning children’s books, shared her story of growing up in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, coming to the United States and becoming an illustrator during the 21st annual Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival Friday at the University of Redlands.

The festival celebrates children’s literature and gives educators, librarians, parents and students an opportunity to hear from notable authors, illustrators and editors in the industry.

Other speakers include Brian Floca, Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Davis, Pam Munoz Ryan, David M. Schwartz and Lisa Von Drasek.

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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales 2004 Awardee

Esperanza Rising written by Pam Muñoz Ryan 2001 Awardee


St. Mary’s College names building after distinguished professor Lucille Clifton

St. Mary’s College of Maryland today announced that the longstanding one-story house formerly known as “The White House,” has been renamed after the College’s former distinguished professor of the humanities, Lucille Clifton. “The Lucille Clifton House” received an extensive renovation in recent months. Built from the timber of a temporary dormitory barracks in 1924, the little white house – now cream – sits along Trinity Church Road behind the Freedom of Conscience statue. It was originally a caretaker’s cottage.

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Amifika by Lucille Clifton 1978 Awardee


What Children’s Book Influenced You the Most? Authors’ and Educators’ Picks

Jacqueline Woodson has been traveling the country, bringing poetry to K-12 classrooms, juvenile detention centers, and libraries. In the process, she has “stressed that everyone has a story and has a right to tell that story,” she said.

What was one of the most influential books they read as young people and why?

Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, writer and mentor at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Penn.:

“Her Stories and The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton. She wrote so many books for children of African descent. She started the Council on Interracial Books for Children [founded in 1965] and should be on everyone’s list. She was a pioneer in black children’s literature.”

Jacqueline Woodson, young adult author and young people’s poet laureate:


“Stevie by John Steptoe. Not only were brown-skinned people on the cover, but [Steptoe] is speaking in a dialect. … The core of it was a mirror. It was the first time I saw people who looked like me and talked like me on the page. It provided a lifetime of learning that continues.”

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Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave by Virginia Hamilton 1989 Awardee

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee


‘The Green Book,’ a modern Underground Railroad guide

The Green Book was a necessary part of road trips for many families, including mine; we traveled, the whole family every year to Florida to reunite with my father’s Southern roots.

In the midst of danger, the guide referred to the travel risks in a most interesting way as this excerpt from the introduction to the spring 1956 edition portrays:

“Millions of people hit the road each year, to get away from their old surroundings, to see and learn how people live, and meet new and old friends. … with the Negro it has been different. He, before the advent of a Negro travel guide, had to depend on word of mouth, and many times accommodations were not available. Now things are different. The Negro traveler can depend on The Green Book for all the information he wants, and has a wide selection to choose from. Hence this guide has made traveling more popular, without encountering embarrassing situations.”

The spring 1956 edition is available online as are nearly all of the editions available for free download at the Library of Congress. An award-winning book, “Ruth and the Green Book,” also by the author, is an excellent fictional introduction to “The Green Book” for children and is, or soon will be available at local libraries.

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Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend written by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, illustrated by John Holyfield 2012 Awardee

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss and illustrated by Floyd Cooper 2011 Awardee


Hastings Reads explores Japanese culture

Hastings Reads is a community-wide reading program that seeks to encourage reading and discussion of books. The 2017 theme is the Japanese-American Experience.

The elementary grades book selection is “A Place Where Sunflowers Grow,” written by Amy Lee-Tai and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino.

On Feb. 24, the Hastings YMCA, hosted a family fun night for elementary children and their families. There will be pizza and fun family activities related to the book “A Place Where Sunflowers Grow.”

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A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, written by Amy Lee-Tai, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino 2007 Awardee


Here are 5 picture book biographies for Black History Month and beyond

The Youngest Marcher: the Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

This engaging new picture books tells her story – from her growing awareness of inequality to her participation in the march to her incarceration to the changes she personally witnessed as the lines created by segregation began to blur.

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Laura Freeman

The refrain that runs through the text sums up the grit that lifted Lowe above circumstances designed to keep her down: “Ann thought about what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.”

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunan

Remembered by many for her silvery “Stormy Weather” voice and extraordinary beauty, Lena Horne was also an ardent supporter of the civil-rights movement.

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We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March written by Cynthia Levinson 2013 Awardee

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal 2006 Awardee

Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford 2008 Awardee


Women’s History Month Books for Kids of All Ages

Grades 1–3

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, illustrated by Robert Casilla. Dolores Huerta went from being a teacher and mother to a fierce fighter for migrant worker rights in the 1950s.

Grades 4–6

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. In 1960, 13 women started astronaut training and did better than some of their male counterparts. They never made it into space, but they set the bar for women like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison.

Wild Women of the Wild West by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Susan Guevara. We know about Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley, but there were plenty of feisty ethnically diverse women making their way out West in the mid-1800s.

Grades 9 and up

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle. Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda was a poet and rebel, and Engle shares her biography in verse.

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Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers, written by Sarah Warren and illustrated by Robert Casilla 2013 Awardee

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone 2010 Awardee

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter 2016 Awardee

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle 2015 Awardee

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, written by Margarita Engle 2009 Awardee

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges
books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the
Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace,
justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books
also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Read more about the 2016 Awards.

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