These wonderful books celebrate African-American heroines by having black girls not just as side characters but as protagonists, in settings as diverse as rural Jamaica, a modern city, and a space station. The list includes picture books as well as an early chapter book and a graphic novel, because black girl magic is for kids of all ages! Be sure to hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs read the full list:
One of the undeniable heroes of American history is Harriet Tubman, that daring woman who not only escaped slavery herself but went on to help more than 300 others escape to freedom as well. Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate this remarkable heroine and inspire students with her story. I’ve gathered here some wonderful learning resources, including a new picture book that is a wonderful introduction to her story for young readers.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of I Am Harriet Tubman for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Harriet Tubman: Learning Resources for Kids
Books for Kids
Often adults hesitate about how to approach difficult topics in history with their kids. How to begin to tell them about the horrors of slavery or the harrowing journeys of those that sought to escape it? That’s why I’m happy to introduce a new picture book that does a great job of introducing children to the subject of slavery and the Underground Railroad through the story of Harriet Tubman.
I am Harriet Tubman is part of the popular children’s biography series Ordinary People Change the World. This beautiful series introduces young readers to inspiring people from the past, such as Gandhi and Rosa Parks. I love that there is always an emphasis on the people and events that inspired them to overcome difficulties in their lives.
I am Harriet Tubman doesn’t sugar coat the past, but it does present it in terms that children can understand and, through sharing one personal story, helps them imagine what it might have been like to have been a child during those times. In this way it helps kids really understand just how remarkable Tubman was and the enormity of what she achieved. As always, I love the timeline and photos included at the back of the book.
For older kids I really recommend The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman. This is part of a series of historical graphic novels for kids that my eight year old adores. As with all the books in the series, it presents the subject with incredible historical accuracy and respect and is very engaging for even reluctant readers.
Crafts & Activities
Make this triarama from Crayola to celebrate Tubman’s legacy.
Visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Church Creek, Maryland, or drive along the 125+ miles of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in a self-guided driving tour (includes 36 historical sites related to the Underground Railway). This can also be done virtually! Read one mom’s experience on taking this emotional journey with her family.
The Women in World History Activity Pack from Multicultural Kid Blogs includes a section on Tubman, with a one page reading passage and reading comprehension questions. Designed for ages 8 – 12.
George Washington Carver is known to many of us as the “Peanut Scientist.” But in researching this article, I discovered that he was so much more! He was a real people’s scientist, always focusing on what would be practically useful to the common man and making sure to share this knowledge with him. His life story – begun as a slave, kidnapped and orphaned as a baby – will fascinate and inspire our young scientists and world changers.
So hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs to read more about this incredible scientist and find activities and resources for further exploration:
Happy Black History Month! To celebrate we are not only participating in a BIG giveaway with Multicultural Kid Blogs (see details below!) but also giving away a copy of Last Stop on Market Street, a wonderful picture book from Matt de la Peña. Find out how to enter at the end of the post!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Last Stop on Market Street; however, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
This year for Black History Month I decided to try out a dessert I have been curious about but never tried making: sweet potato pie! How did it turn out? Spoiler alert: It was wonderful! Very easy to make and a big hit with everyone that tried it.
Sweet Potato Pie Does Not Equal Pumpkin Pie
It turns out that sweet potato pie is so simple to make and really delicious! If you’re thinking but I don’t like pumpkin pie – not to worry! Pumpkin pie is not my favorite either, but this sweet potato pie is so much more flavorful. Several people who tried my pie remarked that they were surprised how much they liked it. They didn’t expect to since they don’t like pumpkin pie and were really just being polite. Luckily for them they actually loved it! I’ve noticed a similar difference when I substitute sweet potatoes in my pumpkin bread recipe. Good before but really wow! with the substitution.
So what makes the difference? First, sweet potatoes have a deeper, richer taste and a thicker texture. I think many people are turned off from pumpkin pie because of its sometimes simpering, mushy texture, which cooked sweet potatoes do not have.
But I think the biggest difference is that the recipe calls for roasting the sweet potatoes and pureeing them yourself. Now, if you’re anything like me, at Thanksgiving battling a pumpkin into submission – dealing with peeling that tough skin and navigating the awkward bumps that look cute on a jack o’ lantern but not on my cutting board – is quickly skipped in favor of opening up a can of ready made puree. How would pumpkin pie taste if I went to the trouble of really starting from scratch? We may never know. (Or at least will have to wait until the kids are older and I am really bored one day).
Sweet potato pie, on the other hand, is easy to make from scratch. So head over to The Wichita Eagle to see the full recipe and try it yourself! You can also read a wonderful story about the importance of sweet potato pie in African-American traditions and why it is often called pumpkin pie’s “Southern cousin.”
I recommend doing as the recipe says and roasting the sweet potato instead of steaming it, as this makes it much sweeter. And be aware that depending on how sweet your sweet potatoes are, you probably will not need the full cup of sugar it calls for.
While your pies are in the oven, enjoy reading these two children’s books about soul food and food for the soul:
Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip is a twist on a Russian folktale, as Grandma Lena and her family try to harvest the enormous turnip that she has grown in her garden. The story itself is fun – with repetition that kids will love – and it is also a fun way to learn about some traditional African-American dishes, as well as the hospitality that goes along with them. Bonus points to Grandma Lena for getting my Monkey interested in eating turnips!
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is a wonderful new offering from Penguin Books: a picture book about a boy and his grandmother, as she gently teaches him to always look for the beauty in the world. As CJ and his Nana ride the bus together after church one day, CJ feels sorry for himself. Why can’t he ride off in a car like other kids, or go home to play, instead of riding on the bus to a rough part of town with his grandmother? But Nana helps CJ learn to appreciate the good in his situation and in those around him. After all, the bus breathes fire, and the driver always has a trick for him. And who wants an iPod when you can listen to a fellow passenger play the guitar live?
When they finally arrive at the last stop on Market Street, CJ discovers a perfect rainbow arcing over the dirty street and realizes how glad he is that they come to their soup kitchen every Sunday, to see the familiar faces and find the beauty where he had never even thought to look.
Win a copy of Last Stop on Market Street
To win a copy of this wonderful book, just comment on this blog post, telling us what dishes conjure up “home” for you! In one week (end of day Feb. 26, 2015, at midnight Pacific time), I’ll draw one random winner from the comments. US shipping only.
This post is part of the Black History Month series on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Be sure to visit the main page for the full schedule and to link up your own posts about sharing Black History Month with kids! And of course, don’t forget to enter our amazing giveaway:
Black History Month GIVEAWAY
Grand Prize Package
A Divah Taylor doll from World of EPI, the company whose mission is to express joy by providing children access to dolls that encourage dreams, promote intelligence, challenge perceptions, and open their hearts to all types of beauty. US Shipping only
Global Wonders: African-American DVD for kids: Join twins Trey and Alisha as their playroom is transformed into a world of dreams and discoveries highlighting the fascinating and influential culture of the African-American family. US & Canada only
One set of ABC Me Flashcards, teaching African-American history from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston! Illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. US Shipping only
Learn about Black History Month in Spanish with this fun educational pack from Open Wide the World. Students will meet 10 African Americans of historic significance in this packet, at an introductory level.
A three pack of bandages (one of each shade) from Tru-Colour Bandages, the company on a mission to bring bandage equality to the industry by providing bandages in your skin color. US & Canada only
Shekere – a beautiful and unique African gourd instrument –
This post is part of the Black History Month Blog Hop on Multicultural Kid Blogs. For more information and to link up your own posts about Black History Month, see the end of this post.
I was a child when Harvey Gantt was elected as the first black mayor of my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I was an idealistic high school student in 1990 when Gantt made the first of two unsuccessful attempts to unseat US Senate stalwart Jesse Helms, in a race that garnered national attention.
Another idealistic young person was also watching that election closely – Michelle Obama snapped a photo of her husband on election night wearing a “Gantt for U.S. Senate” T-shirt as they watched the returns in a friend’s apartment. Years later President Obama stated that Harvey Gantt “helped set the course for young African-American leaders who wanted to become more engaged in the political process.” (source Charlotte Observer)
Yet the influence of Harvey Gantt began much earlier, in 1962, when he petitioned the courts for a chance to attend college in his native South Carolina. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1963 the twenty year old Gantt integrated Clemson University. It was just months after rioting killed two in Mississippi when James Meredith, protected by federal troops and US marshals, became the first African-American to enroll in Ole Miss.
Harvey Gantt integrates Clemson University, 1963 (Source, Clemson University Library)
Gantt graduated from Clemson with a degree in architecture two years later, third in his class. In 1970 this son of a shipyard worker went on to earn a Master’s in City Planning from MIT.
In 2012 Gantt returned to Clemson to give a speech at its convocation. He stated that even on that difficult day in 1963, he had been confident that the university would help him to fulfill his dreams to become “a good architect, building not only buildings, but working with others to build better communities.” (source The American Institute of Architects).
Harvey Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC (Source, James Willamor)
Today Gantt continues to practice architecture in Charlotte, the city he helped shape. In 2009, the city’s Afro-American Cultural Center opened a new facility and took on a new name: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Gantt, known for his humility, allegedly had to be convinced to accept this honor. He later wrote that he hoped it would “serve as a vehicle for people to come celebrate African American art, history and culture … May this edifice always stand as a symbol that this community and nation are places where we all ‘belong’.” (source, Harvey Gantt Center)
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to sponsor a blog hop in honor of Black History Month. Please visit the participating blogs below to learn a bit more about the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement worldwide.
While we are enjoying some extra snuggle time with the Monkeys, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a series of guest posts from some of our favorite bloggers.
Today’s post comes to you from Mary of Sprout’s Bookshelf. We are fellow members of the Multicultural Kids Blogs group and share a love of children’s literature. Mary’s blog is an amazing resource for fun, educational books to read to your children, but it is much much more than that.
Mary is created her blog in order to “surround my son with books that support him, as part of a transracial family formed through international adoption.” Her blog features books on diversity of all sorts, and books that address various aspects of adoption. But don’t worry, as Mary assures us, “it’s not all serious — there are loads of fun read-alouds, engaging chapter books and some titles that just make Sprout giggle!”
Today she helps us get ready for Martin Luther King Day by introducing us to some great books that teach the meaning behind this important holiday.
One of the things I dearly love about children’s literature today is the plethora of excellent resources available for parents and teachers on nearly every subject. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of history and biography, where fantastic books abound, many of them picture books appropriate for preschoolers and elementary ages. Whether you’re homeschooling your children, looking to augment what they are studying in class, or just want to explore a topic in more depth, a visit to your local library can help you unearth a host of terrific titles to take home.
To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we in the United States observe a holiday in his honor on the third Monday of January each year. This holiday provides a great opportunity to discuss the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s many incredible contributions to the efforts to bring equal rights to all persons. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, we’d like to share a few of our favorite picture books about this great man, his life and his unwavering commitment to change the world.
Perhaps the best-known picture book about Dr. King is Doreen Rappaport’s Martin’s Big Words. Among the many awards this title has received are a Coretta Scott King Honor and a Caldecott Honor, and it’s not hard to see why when you consider illustrator Bryan Collier’s stunning artwork. What I love most about this title is the way Rappaport expresses Dr. King’s ideals in a way that even very young children can understand and relate with. In simple phrases, punctuated with Dr. King’s own words, Rappaport’s text paints a picture of this courageous man that is eloquent and moving.
For a more personal look at Dr. King, turn to My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris. “I am his older sister and I’ve known him longer than anyone else,” Farris writes, by way of introduction to her accessible and engaging picture book biography. Farris helps young readers understand why Dr. King developed his principles, but she never paints him as a saint – Martin was her younger brother, after all, and just as much trouble as you might expect. Still, her admiration for her brother’s bravery shines through. Gorgeous illustrations by Chris Sontpiet bring Farris’s words to life (and for an in-depth look at the March on Washington, check out Farris’s March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, another inspiring picture book selection).
With Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend, authors Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud put a fictionalized spin on real events. In Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a white sheriff does all he can to prevent the black residents from getting to vote. Spurred by Dr. King’s example, the Benders hitch up their mules and take the long way to register; and when Dr. King is fatally shot, it is the mules of Gee’s Bend who pull his coffin in the funeral procession. Connecting events of the past with a narrative set in the present, Ramsey and Stroud have created a book that’s accessible and entertaining at once.
Walter Dean Myers is our current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and widely recognized for literary excellence. So it comes as no surprise that his bookI’ve Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.is a simply incredible snapshot of the key events of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s role in these events. This title has a tighter focus on the struggle for equality and is best suited to older elementary kids, who can better understand the concepts Myers discusses. The vivid artwork by Leonard Jenkins suits Myers’s text perfectly; an image of Dr. King giving his final speech is especially haunting.
Sometimes the best way to teach history to young children is through a personal story. That’s just what Carole Boston Weatherford does in her book Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins. Though this title centers around acts of peaceful resistance at lunch counters in North Carolina, a key turning point in the text comes when Dr. King speaks at a local college, which helps young readers connect Dr. King’s influence with the many ways blacks stood up for their civil rights. By centering the story around Connie, a young girl who witnesses friends and family participating in sit-ins, Weatherford makes the story more relatable and immediate for modern kids, and adults as well.