Monday, June 15, 2020

How Children's Literature can support Black Lives Matter

The protests that started in the United States three weeks ago after yet another senseless murder of a black person has ballooned into a  worldwide movement to end racism. There have been tons of protests here in Canada, and I so hope that maybe this time, real change will occur.

As a white ally, I know that the most important things for me to do right now are listen, call out racism wherever I see it and at the systemic level, and learn.

And one of the best ways I know to learn is by reading books by black authors (and those written by other people of color), especially children's books.

Books are a powerful tool that allow us to share lived experiences with other people by stepping into their shoes for awhile.

There are excellent resources all over the web with lists of books for kids about racism, including this list compiled by the amazing treasure that is Jacqueline Woodson.

Books that I've read in the past few years that have had a huge impact on my understanding include Jacqueline's award winning Brown Girl Dreaming as well as the others listed below.

Everything ever written by Jason Reynolds, including

Nic Stone

Angie Thomas

Leah Henderson

David Barclay Moore

Elizabeth Acevedo

This is NOT intended to be an exhaustive list, just a list of books that I love and that have made me a better ally. Most importantly, they are all WONDERFUL!

What can you do to help?

Start following black authors on Instagram and twitter. Buy their books. Demand that publishers increase the number of books written by people of color so that the industry is representative of our population. Demand that schools use books written by people of color in the classroom.

One great thing happening this week is #BlackOutBestsellersLists #blackpublishingpower.

I'm ordering my two books. And to spread the word further, I'm ordering some extras and taking some of my books by black authors and placing them in LittleFreeLibraries all over my city!

Also, authors Nic Stone and Kim Johnson recently gave an excellent interview in Entertainment Weekly magazine about being a black author in the publishing world. One issue Nic raised in the interview was the importance of publishing stories that allow black children to see themselves and reflect their lived experiences. It is an excellent and thought-provoking read!

Fighting racism in all its forms ought to be ALL of our life's work. Children's literature is a wonderful place to start to educate ourselves.

Let's do this!

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