Thursday, February 4, 2010

Books for Black History Month from The Washington Post

February is Black History Month. For inspiration and a personal sense of American history this month check out the following books, selected by Moira E. McLaughlin of The Washington Post. Look for copies of these books here on BookBag using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes.

Marching for Freedom, by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking) Age 10 and older. In 1965, hundreds of people marched 54 miles in five days across Alabama to the capital in Montgomery to demand voting rights for African Americans. This book includes details about the march and the events that led up to it. King encouraged young people to get involved and question the rules. This nonfiction book tells of the kids who closely watched what was going on around them and then bravely joined the fight. The photos depict the peaceful strength of the marchers.

Back of the Bus, by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. (Candlewick) Age 6 and older. (Philomel Books) This sweet fictional story is told by a boy who is on the same bus as Rosa Parks in 1955 in Alabama when she sits down in the front of the bus. The boy is playing with a marble and doesn't realize at first what is going on. After he sees Parks arrested, he starts to look at the world differently. The story is about what it might have been like on that bus and how Parks inspired the people around her that day. The beautiful pictures alone tell a story of strength, hope and determination.

Sweethearts of Rhythm, by Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney. (Dial) Age 9 and older. This true story of an all-female jazz band from the 1940s is told through poetry and illustration. The band was made up of white and black musicians, which was rare at that time. The instruments themselves speak in the poems, telling a lively and rhythmic story about the beauty and power of music, and the passion of the musicians during a time of war. The colorful pictures make the book come alive.

The Hallelujah Flight, by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Holyfield. (Putnam) Age 6 and older. James Banning is a forgotten man in the history books, but his story is inspirational and courageous nonetheless. He was determined to fly from Los Angeles to New York, and he wasn't going to let anyone (or any mechanical difficulty) get in his way. The author portrays the African American pilot as an easygoing, happy guy with a goal. This is a simply told story about defying the odds.

January's Sparrow, by Patricia Polacco (Philomel) Age 10 and older. Starting with the illustration on the second page of a bloody and tied-up slave named January, the book honestly depicts the horror of slavery. Written in the voice of a slave, this intense story follows 8-year-old Sadie, who escapes north to freedom with her family. They live safely for a while until slave trackers find them. It's a moving story about a strong, loving slave family that survives against the odds.

Henry Aaron's Dream, by Matt Tavares. (Candlewick) Age 8 and older. The book is as
much about Henry Aaron's dream as it is about baseball in America in the 1940s and '50s, with "whites only" baseball diamonds and separate sections at games for "colored." Aaron, inspired by Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play major league baseball, persevered and in 1954, his dream of playing in the major leagues came true. This book is about how Aaron remained focused on the ball -- and his dream.

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