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In Honor of Black History Month: Some Awesome African American Authors

by Miriam Downey 27. February 2013 07:32

February is Black History month. Over the past months, I have included many books in my blog postings that tell the stories of African American history in picture books, novels, and biographies. But, oh, there are so many books, and so little time! Every year, the American Library Association awards the Coretta Scott King Award to the outstanding contributor to African American literature and gives out awards to several honor books as well.

This year's author award recipients were Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney for the books Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America (grades 4 and up). This is the story of ten men, each from a different era and with a different background who had a part in the growth of America. They are included in what the author calls a "freedom chain" of hands, drawing inspiration from the past and moving to the future. Other books by the Pinkneys that you will want to read include a companion book, Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (grade 4 and up), which was a Coretta Scott King honor book in a previous year. By the way, any book by the Pinkneys is worth reading.

The illustrator award went to Bryan Collier for his book I Too Am American for grades 1 and up, which is a picture book version of a poem by Langston Hughes. it is a tribute to the porters on the Pullman railroad cars. Collier is a well known African American illustrator. He won the Coretta Scott King award for his book Uptown and a Caldecott Honor Award for one of my favorites, Martin's Big Words.

The other author award winning book was Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson for grades 2-5. This is a novel about relationships, bullying, and economic difficulties. Another of her books is The Other Side for grades 1-4 which is about the right side and the wrong side of the tracks.

The honor book for illustration went to Daniel Minter for Ellen's Broom. This is an autobiographical story of children's author Kelly Starling Lyons and is illustrated by Minter, who has also illustrated several of Lyon's books.

Here are some authors whose Coretta Scott King award winning books about African American history, African American life, and African American children are always valuable: Kadir Nelson, Vera Williams, Donald Crews, Virginia Hamilton, Eloise Greenfield, James Ransome, Mildred Taylor, Julius Lester, Christopher Myers, Ashley Bryan, Nikkin Grimes, and Angela Johnson.

These award winners will be available at your library and bookstore. Check them out!

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