Poetry Celebrating Black History Month
by Kris Nash
Parents and children looking for some good reading for Black History Month can find a wealth of choices at their local public library — everything from picture books to history books to novels. But, as you browse, don’t overlook the poetry section! Many distinguished poets and illustrators have celebrated African American history and culture through their work. The following poetry books are some of our favorites:
Freedom's a-Callin' Me
by Ntozake Shange
Fleeing on the Underground Railroad meant walking long distances, swimming across streams, hiding in abandoned shanties, swamps and ditches, always on the run from slave trackers and their dogs. Award winning poet Ntozake Shange reimagines the journeys of the men and women who made their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad, and pays tribute to their courage.
We Troubled the Waters, also by Shange, uses poetry to explore people, both famous and everyday, who fought for justice during the Civil Rights Movement. Ages 8 and up.
Roots and Blues: A Celebration
by Arnold Adoff
“Can you hear the ancestor words
still in echo over oceans and centuries?”
Acclaimed children’s author Arnold Adoff gives a sensory history of the blues, tracing the roots of song and rhythm as they were passed down and shaped into a unique American art form. Ages 10 and up.
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
by Nikki Giovanni
Poetry with a beat — one part story, one part rhythm — “that’s hip hop in a flash,” says poet Nikki Giovanni. The selections are written by poets from a wide range of eras and styles, from Langston Hughes to Tupac Shakur and Mos Def.
On the accompanying CD, some of the selections are performed by their authors, and others are freshly interpreted by contemporary artists. Ages 8 and up.
I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
by Cynthia Grady
Using the American folk tradition of quilting as a structural framework, poet Cynthia Grady weaves together spiritual, musical and quilting references to express the pain, sorrow and weariness as well as the joy and hope experienced by those living in slavery in America. Ages 10 and up.
The Great Migration: Journey to the North
by Eloise Greenfield
“We were one family among the many thousands.
Mama and Daddy leaving home,
coming to the city, with their
hopes and their courage,
their dreams and their children —”
In this collection of poems and collage artwork, poet Eloise Greenfield and artist Jan Spivey Gilchrist depict the experiences of families, like their own, who found the courage to leave their homes behind and journey toward new lives. Ages 6 and up.
Night on Neighborhood Street
by Eloise Greenfield
This book is truly a celebration of life. Greenfield offers insights into childhood, and the nurturing world of family, friends and neighbors. A little boy stubbornly waits for his best friend to come home from a trip, an older sister tenderly tucks her little sister into bed, and a child repeatedly asks to stay up late, but, in the end, just wants a hug. All are rooted in the strength derived from family and community. Ages 3 and up.
Some Kind of Love: A Family Reunion in Poems
by Traci Dant
“Must be some kind of love
that moved my grandma to say,
Always come home.”
Every summer, relatives (old and young, big and small) come together from all over the country for a reunion. All have one thing in common — their love for each other. Poet Traci Dant captures it all in the words of a 9-year-old boy. Ages 6 and up.
New! Coming out this month:
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World
by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
Smith highlights 28 people and events — one for each day of Black History Month. He begins in 1770 with Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the Boston Massacre, and ends with President Barack Obama.
In between, he introduces some unfamiliar names who accomplished remarkable feats. These include Robert Smalls, who stole a boat from Confederate sailors and delivered it to the Union, and Bessie Coleman, one of the first female airplane pilots. Ages 6 and up.
Visit the Westport Library!
The Children’s Library has storytimes for all ages, craft programs, book discussion groups, science and maker programs, writing workshops, yoga for kids, reading to therapy dogs, chess club, Summer Reading Club and more!
And, of course, we would love to help you find some really great books to read. Come see us soon!
The Westport Library is located at 20 Jesup Road in Westport.
For more information, call 203-291-4810 or visit our website at www.westportlibrary.org.
Kris Nash is an Associate Children's Librarian at the Westport Library.