Thoughts and a New List for Storytimes…

Hello everyone. I took a step back from posting, and instead spent time reading, listening, and doing more listening and sharing out information. The incredibly propulsive and now law-changing Black Lives Matter protests are going on globally for multiple days, even as COVID-19 and other threats rage.

Regarding thoughts related to the current climate, I cannot parse and phrase my thoughts as well as other writers, authors, creators, library workers, activists, and people of the world have done over the last few days, weeks (and decades). But I will say this: Black Lives Matter. Full stop. Speaking from my perspective as a white Canadian and librarian: Librarianship is still overwhelmingly white, and I would argue that libraries need to reassess, re-evaluate, and truly think long and hard and have a difficult talk about: what we buy for our collections; what and who we promote in our collections; who and what we promote for reader’s advisory; what we feature in our collections; what books we present in storytimes; who we book talk; what outdated and/or racist items we weed from our collections; what programs we allow in our public spaces; who occupies library positions; whether you represent a passive institution; and how we can do MORE within and outside of the library.

One cannot, to borrow from historian and bestselling author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, simply say, I’m not a racist! Of course the library is not a racist institution! One must be actively antiracist. From Dr. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist: “being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination”. I don’t know how many people (in and out of libraries) want to do this work, but it is necessary. It will be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Tying this to librarianship, reviewing, and being an active reader, author, columnist, and founder of The Fold, Jael Richardson had this to say on Twitter, with regard to taking a critical look at one’s bookshelves: “You may not be or feel racist. But ask yourself, IS YOUR BOOKSHELF? Who’s there? Who’s not? If you’re a parent with lots of kids books, are there people of color? Are they Canadian (if you’re Canadian you know why this matters)? Who’s centered on the cover?”. I can honestly say that it was not until I started interacting more widely with- and mostly, just LISTENING TO and reading notes from- librarians, authors, illustrators, and creators over social media a few years back that I recognized HOW LACKING my home collection was. (Which lead to a look at publishing, purchasing, and reading habits….This also lead to my critically considering HOW FAR public library children’s collections- and the library staff representing institutions- STILL MUST GO towards actually diversifying and confronting its overwhelming whiteness). To that end, I continue to work. To not be passive. To read, listen, learn, learn from mistakes, to actively process and examine what books I buy, why, who features, and what books I read and share.

As just a start, I would like to present newer picture book titles by Black authors and/or illustrators/creators to incorporate into storytimes (whether at home or in your library, etc.). I would argue that storytimes in libraries have been either overwhelmingly centered white characters or animals. Here, as just one small beginning step, are some ideas (this is by no means an exhaustive list!! Look online for further carefully curated lists!!) for books to welcome into your home storytime or for read aloud in preschools, daycares, or elementary schools (or even high schools). (Please note: this list is in no particular order!; some are non-fiction, some are board books, some are on my must-read, while some may not yet be released):

  • Saturday by Oge Mora
  • Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
  • The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illus. Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
  • Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
  • How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illus. Melissa Sweet
  • The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illus. Kadir Nelson
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. Rafael López
  • Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illus. Kaylani Juanita
  • M is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child by Tiffany Rose
  • Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story! by Janay Brown-Wood, illus. Priscilla Burris
  • Another by Christian Robinson
  • You Matter by Christian Robinson
  • Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes, illus. Elizabeth Zunon
  • Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illus. Ekua Holmes
  • The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illus. Ekua Holmes
  • Henry and Bea by Jessixa Bagley
  • Fresh Princess by Denene Millner, illus. Gladys Jose
  • I Got the Christmas Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illus. Frank Morrison
  • I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illus. Frank Morrison
  • Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illus. Vashti Harrison
  • Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illus. Vashti Harrison
  • Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison (board book)
  • Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, illus. Ashley Lukashevsky (board book)
  • B Is for Baby by Atinuke, illus. Angela Brooksbank (board book)
  • Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illus. Bryan Collier
  • Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illus. Dapo Adeola
  • My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
  • Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, illus. Ebony Glenn
  • Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illus. Ebony Glenn
  • Speak Up by Miranda Paul, illus. Ebony Glenn
  • Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
  • Princess Hair by Sharee Miller
  • Layla’s Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, illus. Ashleigh Corrin
  • Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illus. Daniel Minter
  • Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illus. Brittany Jackson
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illus. Keturah A. Bobo
  • I Believe I Can by Grace Byers, illus. Keturah A. Bobo
  • Malaika’s Costume (Malaika #1) by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. Irene Luxbacher
  • Malaika’s Winter Carnival (Malaika #2) by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. Irene Luxbacher
  • Tallulah The Tooth Fairy CEO by Tamara Pizzoli, illus. Federico Fabiani
  • Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illus. Shane W. Evans
  • Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne, illus. Theodore Taylor III
  • The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan, illus. Thomas Knight
  • I Love Me! by LaRonda Gardner Middlemiss, illus. Beth Hughes
  • Boonoonoonous Hair by Olive Senior, illus. Laura James
  • Africville by Shauntay Grant, illus. Eva Campbell
  • Brown Baby Lullaby by by Tameka Fryer Brown, illus. A.G. Ford
  • Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe
  • Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Amanda Redd, illus. Nneka Myers
  • Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman, illus. Akem Akem
  • The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson, illus. Matt James

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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