Day 2: Colin Bootman

February 1, 2014

urlHis Journey

When I graduated college in 1990, I thought I wanted to paint book covers and record jackets. I also thought that I might even create editorials. In truth, I was confused and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. What I did know was that I wanted to create art and make a living from my work.

To further complicate my young adult years, I was a Marine Corps reservist and the United States was at war in the Middle East. They called this war Operation Desert Storm. I openly protested on moral and ethical grounds, by declaring conscientious objector status. I was denied! However, I was granted a jail sentence. Between the time that I spent battling the Uniform Code of Military Justice and waiting in prison, a year had gone by. However, my experience as a conscientious objector helped me to develop a better sense of tolerance and perseverance. With support from  Amnesty International and the American public’s disapproval for the war, all conscientious objectors were granted clemency. When finally leaving military service, my status was honorable. 

My next step was to work on my portfolio and show my work to other Young-Frederick-Douglass-Girard-Linda-9780807594636artists for feedback.  Brian Pinkney, a renowned illustrator, liked what I shared with him and directed me to an art agency, Kirchoff/Wohlberg. They also liked my art and we decided to work together. During my first year with  Kirchoff/Wohlberg, I illustrated lots of textbooks. By the second year I landed my first picture book deal, “Young Frederick Douglass.” Even at this point, it didn’t quite register that I was actually living my dream. I finally understood this dream after my third book, “Oh No Toto.”

It took me a long time to feel comfortable saying to others, ” I am an artist and illustrator”. However, the more I have embraced this concept, the more expansive my creativity has become. I have now broadened my palette to include writing books for children. I figured after  illustrating so many books and being exposed to so many stories, the next and natural step would be to write. My first written and illustrated book, “Fish for the Grand510GBHYQR4L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ Lady“, debuted in the Fall of 2006. I am now working on my third written and illustrated book. I am also involved in gallery work, portraiture, and teaching. I now firmly believe myself to be an artist.

His Inspiration

I was born in Trinidad where I spent the first seven years of my life. During this time, I was inspired by the island’s rich and diverse culture. The lively rhythms and vibrant  palette of Trinidad left an indelible mark on my creative expression. Soon after moving to the United States, I embraced art as a measure of escape from the pressures of adjusting to a new environment at an early age. Finding a Spiderman comic book was the life-changing experience that marked the beginning of my career as an artist.

My father’s watercolors were another source of inspiration. I admired and studied them as a young child. He was not fortunate enough to receive formal training in art or become a professional artist. However, the restoration work he did on classic cars was art. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to help him with some of those restorations.


Inspired by trailblazers like illustrator George Ford. Source: Just Us Books.

At La Guardia High School for the Arts I was introduced to the works of artist like Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Romare Bearden, Toulouse-Lautrec, Edward Hopper, Henry Ossawa Tanner and others. These artists influence my art.  My work is also influenced by the impressionistic period. Further more, I draw tremendous inspiration from contemporaries, such as; George Ford, Pat Cummings, Eric Velasquez, E.B. Lewis, Glenn Roopchand, Ashley Bryan, Kadir Nelson, Brian Pinkney, Gregory Christie and others. I am moved not only by the quality of their work, but also from the motivation that drives their work. This motivation is to reflect various aspects of the lives of peoples living throughout the African diaspora.

His Process

Bootman PicI typically work in my studio at home. My daily routine involves either painting, sketching, researching, promoting, writing, networking, conceptualizing or sometimes a combination of any of these.

When developing a new book for illustration, my process would involve the following:

First I read and reread the manuscript in search of angles or motifs. Secondly, I begin developing thumbnail sketches, keeping in mind my angles and/or motifs. If the story is biographical or a period piece I also do research on the subject so as to be accurate. Thirdly, I begin research on visual reference and/or set up photo shoots. The next step is to do more detailed sketches and send them off to the publishers for feedback. Finally, when the editor, art director, marketing and myself are in agreement with the sketches, I move forward with the finishes. This can either be in oil, watercolor, graphite or mixed media.


The Back Story

When growing up, I associated the Charleston dance with the 1920s and the aristocracy of America. I had no idea that this dance was invented by orphaned African American children in the streets of Charleston South Carolina.

When, Andrew Karr, an editor at Lerner Publishing, contacted me to illustrate a new project, he shared how impressed he was with my book “The Steel Pan Man of Harlem.” Mr. Karr said that he particularly liked the musical theme and vibrant dance scenes in the book. He asked if I would take a look at a manuscript he felt was a good match for me. This manuscript was for my most recent book, “Hey, Charleston.”

When I read this gem of a story by, Ann Rockwell, I was excited!  Further, I did a little research onYoutube about the Charleston. I came upon video footage from 1938, in which two guys are dancing the Charleston to a modern beat. I was hooked. It was as if seeing, for the first time, the dance properly executed. Honestly, I saw very little difference in the way these guys danced the Charleston and some of the hip-hop dances performed today.SAMPLE 1

The music and dance theme alone were enough for me to say yes to this project. However, there was something else about this story that I found even more compelling. The primary character, Reverend Jenkins, was born a slave. Yet, as an African American man at the turn of the last century, was able to make amazing contributions to his community. I know it has been an immense honor extended me to be a part of this project. I hope that this book will shed light on another American story that needs to be told.


The Buzz

Kirkus says:

“Rockwell relates her tale in a fast-paced narrative that will hopefully encourage readers to turn into listeners. Bootman’s emotive, full-bleed artwork provides a lively accompaniment.” says:

“Rockwell’s writing is strong, clear the pacing at a clip. Bootman’s illustrations are lush, expansive and beautifully capture a long gone era, that still feels fresh. This is one of my favorite books from this year’s crop of picture books so far.”


School Library Journal says:

Rockwell’s informative text is lively and accessible, and Bootman’s realistic, full-spread paintings capture the era and energy of the musicians and onlookers dancing and clapping to the beat. Use this inspiring tale for jazz units or African American History Month.



Under The Radar (other authors/illustrators recommendation)

Glenda Armand

Nicole Tadgell

John Holyfield

George Ford

Elbrite Brown

Colin Bootman loves to visit schools. For more information about his author/illustrator visits, be sure to check out his website.


DAY 1: Ilyasah Shabazz

February 1, 2014

ilyasah_headsho updo close

“Experiencing my parents’ transitions has afforded me understanding of human mortality and purpose. I recognize and appreciate that each of our lives will end, and that the meaningful accomplishments during our lifetimes do not include acquiring power, land, or gold.  But rather, the only achievements that will survive eternity and will honor our memories are humble and dedicated service to God, which are the good deeds that uplift the human family.”

These are the words of Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, daughter of human rights activists, the late Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Ilyasah wears many service-oriented hats: she is an activist, a community organizer, and a motivational speaker. Her formal education includes a MS degree in Education and Human Resource Development. Her website states:

Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue, and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world. She produces The WAKE-UP Tour™, an exclusive youth empowerment program, and participates on international humanitarian delegations. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a Trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Ilyasah serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, and a Project Advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves.”

Whew. Those are a lot of hats.

Ilyasah is also an author. In addition to Growing Up X (Random House), she has written a children’s book, Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, illustrated by A.G. Ford (Atheneum, January 2014).  Reviews of the book include the following: 

“Writing with the fervor and intensity of a motivational speaker, Shabazz recounts her father’s early years, which LITTLE BOY MALCOLM X Coverwere filled with the loving support and teachings of his parents as well as the hate and destruction of the Ku Klux Klan…. With the passion of a preacher, she celebrates love, respect, tolerance and education without restraint…. Ford’s oil paintings, framed on the page, are lush and filled with detail…. A daughter’s proud…tribute to her father and his parents.”  (Kirkus, November 2013)
“Shabazz (Growing Up X) pays affectionate tribute to her father, Malcolm X, and his parents in this account of the activist’s childhood…. Shabazz relays…Malcolm’s resolve to succeed and remain true to his parents’ values after he loses his father ‘to the brute force of racism and the narrow-mindedness of the Ku Klux Klan,’ and his mother is deemed ‘no longer fit to care for her children.’ Ford’s (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) oil paintings render joyous and desolate moments with equal skill.” (Publishers Weekly, October 2013)

“The author of this handsome, inspirational offering is Malcolm X’s daughter–an educator, activist, and motivational speaker. . . . Ford’s oil paintings are accomplished and historically accurate.” (School Library Journal, January 2014)

Ilyasah currently resides in Westchester County of New York. On this, the first day of 28 Days Later, we celebrate this very meaningful contribution to children’s literature by Ilyasah Shabazz.

*Author photo from Feigen PR

Shining the Spotlight: 28 Days Later 2014 Honorees

January 27, 2014

28dayslogoToday, we are proud to announce the honorees for our seventh annual 28 Days Later campaign, a Black History Month celebration of emerging and established children’s book creators of color. As is tradition, a stand-out author or illustrator will be saluted each day during February. 

The month-long submissions window for our campaign opened in October. Wonderful suggestions from librarians, teachers, publishers and kidlit lovers flowed in. We considered those names along with internal nominations and nominees from past years, keeping focused on our mission to “push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers.”

The campaign will begin on February 1, 2014, and we will honor 28 children’s book creators in all – 22 authors and six illustrators.

The authors and the day they will be featured are as follows:

Vanguard authors/illustrators in bold.

1. Ilyasah Shabazz

2. Colin Bootman 

3. Octavia Spencer

4. Jason Reynolds

5. Linda Trice

6. Michele Wood

7. Zetta Elliott

8. Lamar Giles

9. Pamela Tuck

10. Eric Shabazz Larkin

11. Camille Yarbrough

12. Dream Jordan

13. Daniel Beaty

14. Theodore Taylor

15. Tiki Barber and Ronde Barber

16. Kelli London

17, Nikki Shannon Smith

 18. Christopher Myers

19. Diane Browne

20. Kimberly Reid

 21. Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert 

22. Amar’e Stoudemire

23. Stephanie Kuehn

24. Trish Cooke

25. Celeste O. Norfleet

26. Kadir Nelson

27. S.A.M. Posey

28. Higgins Bond

Congratulations to the honorees!

January 22, 2014

2014_AACBP_POSTER_enlg_logos_fnl3On Saturday, February 1, literary consultant and multicultural children’s literature advocate Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati will host the 22nd African American Children’s Book Fair at the Community College of Philadelphia. It’s a stand-out event that attracts thousands of readers who want to celebrate black children’s book creators and purchase books for their schools, libraries and homes. We are honored that four on our Brown Bookshelf team will be there – Don Tate, Crystal Allen, Tameka Fryer Brown and Kelly Starling Lyons. Big thanks to Vanesse for including us in this amazing celebration.

Here, Vanesse, founder of the African American Children’s Book Project, talks about the African American Children’s Book Fair:

Please share how the book fair has grown. What challenges did you face in the beginning? What obstacles do you face now?


Founder, Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati

The African American Children’s Book Project, which serves to promote and preserve children’s books, hosts the largest and oldest single day literary event for African American children in the world. The event is held the first Saturday in February in Philadelphia, PA.  We’d like to think it kicks off the cultural national Black history calendar.

Our first event was held in a reception room at a local department store.  The public relations representative reached out to me for an activity that would drive traffic into the store during Black History Month.

I’m a literary consultant and have extensive experience in doing book-driven events.  My company, The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, has produced events all around the country under the banner of The Literary Café™ for adult authors.  I looked around the community and saw wonderful book-driven events for adults, but nothing for our children.  I asked around town and kept hearing that Black people don’t buy books for their children.  I was horrified because I knew that in my circle, people bought books for their kids.  This simply wasn’t true. I was on a mission . . .

So on a cold, frosty morning we produced the first event and they came – I counted them – 250 strong. Marie Brown, a literary agent, helped me put together my line-up of authors and illustrators. Most came from her client list. People bought books, not one but numerous copies.  On the way out, they kept asking me when the next event was.  So here we are twenty-two years later and still going strong.  On average more than 3,500 people pass through our doors at Community College of Philadelphia.

Today many of those same people attend the event with their grandchildren. Children who developed a love of reading at our event are now adults bringing their own children.

We quickly outgrew our original space and thanks to Lynette Brown Sow, Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations, opened the doors of our program into Community College of Philadelphia.  Her team led by Erica Harrison takes away some of the stress of finding a location to host the event. We also now partner with the school’s Early Childhood Education Department who are training the next generation of educators.

From the start of this journey, we found an eager audience who loved books and demonstrated that love by buying.  Our mantra is: “Preserve A Legacy, And Buy A Book.”

However, my biggest challenge from the beginning and even today is making publishers understand that there is an audience who will buy books.  The number of African-American children’s books is shrinking. In 1985, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison began to document the number of books published in the United States for children which were written and/or illustrated by African Americans. In 1992, the year our organization was founded, out of 4500 books published, only 94 were African American.  The center’s most recent published study indicated that while they received 3,600 children’s books in 2012 only 119 “had significant African or African American” content.  Of that number, only 68 were written or illustrated by African Americans.  (Keep in mind that these numbers do not factor in self-published or smaller publishers which have had a mega boom in the African American community).

But there is a need.  Anyone who has attended the African American Children’s Book Fair is surprised at the audience who comes with the purpose of spending money on books.  Not music, but books.

Funding is always taxing.  We make this event happen on a wing and a prayer. Even though we have demonstrated a successful track record, we have not been able to attract the major funders.  I’d like to get a MacArthur grant to plant these literary seeds around the country.  I am the unofficial Literary Ambassador traveling around the world CELEBRATING READING.

Why does the book fair continue to be important?

Children need to see images of themselves in books – positive images.  They need to see our stories, our history in books.  I attended the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which is a publishing trade show in Italy, last year.  More than 1,200 exhibitors from 75 countries participated with 25,000 attendees.  Children’s books from every continent were represented.  But I didn’t see any African-American books from the United States. Granted there were not a lot of U.S. publishers participating in the event, but there is a global curiosity to know more about African Americans.

I also travel to a lot of international book events and the question that always comes up is what do we read – what type of books do we like.  Many are trying to get their books into our community.  Let’s reciprocate.  The more we know about each other, the better we co-exist. This goes for all us.  Make sure your child’s library is multicultural.

Another issue is this myth that African Americans don’t read and won’t buy books for their children – especially hard cover. This is totally absurd.   Access is the issue.  Publishers and booksellers have to think out of the box.  Go to the people – church bookstores, social and civic organizations. Here you will find a willing audience – willing to invest in their children.

African American consumers also need to be pro-active.  When you walk into your local bookstore, if you don’t see African-American children’s titles on the shelves ask for some recommendations.  Publishing is a business.  Get your family and friends to buy at the location.  If the bookstore knows they have an audience for African-American children’s books, you’ll see the difference.  Don’t know where to start – The Brown Bookshelf is a great starting point or the African American Children’s Book Project website –  The authors and illustrators on these sites are the cream of the crop.  And of course you can reach out to me.

What are the constants you’ve kept over the years? What are some new features you’ve added?

The event is FREE. Did I mention the event is FREE? Also the authors and illustrators are a very important part of the success of the event.  They are the hallmark of this event. For some children, this is the first time they will meet an author or illustrator.  This encounter opens the door to a life-long love of reading.  Attendees get the opportunity to interact.

Three years ago, we added workshops.   Syndicated cartoonist Jerry Craft is hosting a cartoon workshop sponsored by PECO in the Literary Salon.  The PECO LITERARY SALON is a new feature at the event. NBC10, a local television affiliate, continues to support the event by purchasing books of our guest authors and illustrators to give to children who attend the event. They also host our reading circle.  The authors/illustrators know that they’ve pre-sold books and we get these great books into the hands of the attendees.

Another highlight of the event is our Educator Book-Give Away program.  Early on, I recognized that many of our educators didn’t have the funding to buy new books to use in their classrooms.  So I reached out to sponsors again to buy books of our authors and illustrators to give-away.  McDonald’s is a long-time sponsor of this initiative.  HealthPartners Foundation, Health Partners Plans and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson sponsor our Parents Book-Give Away program. The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants pull all of the elements together.

And of course, the book fair is a highlight.  First time attendees are surprised at people standing in lines to buy books, waiting patiently to buy books. These consumers understand the importance that books have on their children’s overall upbringing. We sell more books in three hours than any other African-American retailer in the country.

Please talk about the line-up. What should people expect when they attend the book fair? How can they get the most out of it?

More than 21 nationally known bestselling authors/illustrators will participate. Many have won the American Library Association Coretta Scott King award. These authors/illustrators have produced some of the best books of our generation.

The afternoon is packed with activities that promote the power and joy of reading. Authors and illustrators will make presentations from their books. The Literary Row distributes book-related promotional materials free of charge. Our Educator Book-Giveaway distributes brand new books to teachers and librarians to use in their classrooms. This event reinforces our slogan “A BOOK OPENS A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES.”

Featured authors and illustrators:





















22nd Annual African American Children’s Book Fair:

Saturday, February 1, 2014, 1-3 p.m.

Community College of Philadelphia (Gymnasium)

17th Spring Garden Street

Free and open to the public

Find out more about the African American Children’s Book Fair at


YA Discovery Contest

November 21, 2013

Have an idea for a YA novel? Have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure how to craft a pitch? Here’s a chance to get it seen.

In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Serendipity Literary Agency and Sourcebooks Inc. have teamed up to host their 5th annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest. All you have to do is submit your first 250 words. Top prizes for winning entries range from a 10-week writing course, collection of teas and opportunity to submit to agent Regina Brooks to a pitch session with Brooks and feedback from editors.

The deadline is November 30.

Details here.

28 Days Later, 2014 Nominations closed

November 8, 2013

Thank you for your participation in our 28 Days Later nomination process. At this point, we will gather names that you submitted, as well as toss in our own. Please look for our announcement of the 28 Days Later, 2014 honorees towards the end of this year.

Thanks again.

The Brown Bookshelf Team

28 Days Later, 2014, Call for Submissions

October 7, 2013

imgres-4Get ready to rep your favorites. It’s that time. The submissions window has officially opened for the seventh annual 28 Days Later campaign, a Black History Month celebration of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans. We will take nominations today through November 8th.

Over the past six years, we have proudly saluted 178 black authors and illustrators through our signature initiative. But there are so many more who deserve to be showcased.

That’s where you come in. Help us identify under-the-radar and vanguard African-American children’s book authors and illustrators we should consider profiling. Let us know who we should check out so we can give them the praise they’ve earned.

After the submissions window closes, we’ll research the names you’ve submitted and our internal nominations. Then, we’ll choose the stand outs who will be the next class of 28 Days Later honorees. The celebration of their work begins February 1.

Our mission is to “push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers.” Too often, these authors and illustrators go unsung. With 28 Days Later, we put these talents in front of the folks who can get their books into the hands of kids – librarians, teachers, parents and booksellers among others.

Nominate your favorites in the comments section. Anyone can nominate. Publishers may nominate their authors. Authors may self-nominate. Please note that we do not accept nominations of self-published authors. You can check out who we’ve featured in the past here, here, here and here. If you could make sure your nominee hasn’t already been featured, that would be a great help.

Spread the word and nominate often. With your support, we can make a difference. Thank you for helping us salute children’s book creators of color.

Blog Tour: Birmingham, 1963

September 11, 2013

BirminghamBookCoverThis month marks the 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, a horrific event which became a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford pays homage to the four girls who lost their lives in her powerful book, Birmingham, 1963.

Here, Carole talks about the history and the inspiration for her acclaimed book as part of her blog tour:

What effect did the bombing have on the nation?

The bombing of the Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the Newtown, Connecticut of its day. Both tragedies seared the collective conscience. Just as the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School rocked our nation and roused support for gun control, the 1963 hate crime both shocked and shamed America into confronting historic racial inequities. During the Cold War, America offered itself as a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world. Yet, segregation was the status quo and the Ku Klux Klan terrorized African-American citizens. These moral contradictions were exposed by the church bombing that left four girls dead.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I don’t want young people to forget the sacrifices made in America’s freedom struggle. I’ve written a few books with that mission. One is even titled Remember the Bridge. In Birmingham, 1963, I offer an elegy to the four girls who were killed in the church bombing: Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

Why did you choose historical fiction and create an anonymous narrator?

The historical events are true, but the first-person narrator is fictional. I use historical fiction to give young readers a character with whom to identify. In so doing, young readers grapple with social justice issues. I did not want names of fictional characters to stick in readers’ minds or to take the focus off the real victims. Also, the narrator’s anonymity draws readers even closer to the action. In this scene, she struggles to get out of the church after the blast.

Smoke clogged my throat, stung my eyes.

As I crawled past crumbled plaster, broken glass,

Shredded Bibles and wrecked chairs—

Yelling Mama! Daddy!—scared church folk

Ran every which way to get out.  

Why did you set the tragedy on the narrator’s birthday?

In the eyes of children, turning ten is a big deal, a childhood dayturnedmilestone bordering on a rite of passage. The bombing actually occurred on the church’s Youth Day. To compound the irony and up the emotional ante, I made the bombing coincide with the narrator’s tenth birthday. The main character is looking forward to singing a solo during worship service and to celebrating her birthday. Instead, she survives a church bombing and mourns four older girls. That setting dramatically juxtaposes birthday candles and the bundle of dynamite which sparked the explosion.  The milestone resonates like a mantra, beginning as The year I turned ten and building to The day I turned ten.

Do you have a favorite passage from the poem?

The last stanza is my favorite.

The day I turned ten,

There was no birthday cake with candles;

Just cinders, ash, and a wish I were still nine.

Did you see yourself in the four girls? How much of you is in the anonymous narrator? 

carolegirlIn 1963 I was seven years old and had already written my first  poem. I grew up in Baltimore and did not experience the degree of discrimination that they did in Birmingham. But in many ways, I was those girls.

Like Addie Mae Collins, I drew portraits, played hopscotch and wore my hair press and curled. Like Cynthia Wesley, I was a mere wisp of a girl who sometimes wore dresses that my mother sewed. I sang soul music and sipped sodas with friends.

Like Denise McNair, I liked dolls, made mud pies and had a childhood crush. I was a Brownie, had tea parties and hosted a neighborhood carnival for muscular dystrophy. People probably thought I’d be a real go-getter.

Like Carole Robertson, I loved books, earned straight A’s and took music and dance lessons. I joined the Girl Scouts and was a member of Jack and Jill of America. I too hoped to make my mark. We are both Caroles with an “e.”

Is the bombing still relevant today?

Nowadays, racism is usually more subtle and less definitive. Even hate crimes are more difficult to pinpoint and to prove. Many argue that racism motivated neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who murdered teenager Trayvon Martin. In a more clear-cut case of hate violence, in 1998, James Byrd, an African-American man, was dragged three miles to his death by three white men (two white supremacists) in a pickup truck. And in 2006, nooses were hung in a tree on a high school campus in Jena, Mississippi, after a black student tried to sit with white students at lunch. As long as racism persists and this nation exists, stories from the African-American freedom struggle will remain relevant.

How are you marking the 50th anniversary of the church bombing?

This fall, I am offering free Skype visits to schools that read Birmingham, 1963.

Some of the honors Birmingham, 1963 has received:

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

The Jefferson Cup

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, Books for Older Readers Honor Book

Classroom resources:

Discussion Guide

Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections

50th Anniversary March on Washington

August 24, 2013

Picture books that commemorate this historic day:

ihaveadream_coverI Have a Dream, by Martin Luther King, Jr; illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)

Synopsis from publisher: “From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

we_march_JPG_210x1000_q85We March, by Shane W. Evans (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)

Synopsis from publisher: “On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place—more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his  historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony. Many words have been written about that day, but few so delicate and powerful as those presented here by award-winning author and illustrator Shane W. Evans. When combined with his simple yet compelling illustrations, the thrill of the day is brought to life for even the youngest reader to experience.”

kr_kidsread_marchonrev_011210_fixedMarch On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, by Christine King Farris, illustrated by London Ladd

A Sweet Smell of Roses, by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007).

Synopsis from publisher: “There’s a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice. Inspired by countless children and young adults who took a stand, two Coretta Scott King honorees offer a heart-lifting glimpse of children’s roles in the civil rights movement.”roses


– Don Tate

Whatcha Reading this Summer?

July 23, 2013

Mother Reading to SonSo. Summer vacation is half over.  Have you gotten some swim time in? Seen the latest movies? Visited the grandparents? Reached your summer reading goal?

We can help you with the last one.

The Brown Bookshelf sent out a call to publishers and readers, asking for the latest and greatest children’s books by African-American authors and illustrators. Below are the spring and summer titles we received from publishers, followed by Reader’s Choice titles.

Feast and enjoy!



Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Putnam Juvenile, 12/2012)

Hope’s Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Don Tate (Putnam Juvenile, 12/2012)

Beneath a Meth Moon  by Jacqueline Woodson (Puffin, 2/2013)

Ellray Jakes Walks the Plank by Sally Warner, Illustrated by Jamie Harper (Puffin, 3/2013)

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam Juvenile, 3/2013)

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Viking, 3/2013)

Ellray Jakes is a Dragon Slayer by Sally Warner, Illustrated by Brian Biggs (Puffin, 5/2013)

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper (Philomel, 6/2013)



Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Floyd Cooper (12/12)

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (1/13)

Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers (4/13 )

The Laura Line by Crystal Allen (4/13 )

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (5/13)



Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by A.G. Ford (1/2013)

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls (1/2013)

A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan and Joanna Carolan, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (7/2013)



The President Looks Like Me & Other Poems by Tony Medina (1/2013)

AFRO-BETS Book of Black Heroes from A to Z by Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley (3/2013)



Kenya’s Song by Linda Trice, illustrated by Pamela Johnson (2/2013)



Nikki and Deja: Substitute Trouble  by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman (7/2013)



As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (4/2013)



Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (6/2013)



Nobody Asked the Pea by John Warren Stewig, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright (1/2013)



The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 3/2013)

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Author A. Levine Books, 3/2013)

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (Carolrhoda Books, 2/2012)

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (Wendy Lamb Books, 1/2012)

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Brian Collier (Simon & Schuster, 5/2012)

I Have A Dream by Kadir Nelson, (Schwartz & Wade, 10/2012)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 538 other followers