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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

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  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

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Picture Books We Love

Black Voices: Picture Books as Antiracist Resources

As an institution, The Carle is committed to listening and learning about racism and the legacy of white-dominated narratives. We continue to reflect on our own gaps in knowledge, to learn and adopt antiracist practices, and to think critically about the books we choose to highlight in our programs and spaces.  As part of this work, The Carle Bookshop and Reading Library staff have been looking deeply and critically at our collections. Whose voices have been amplified or silenced on our shelves? In the Reading Library, we conducted a two-year diversity audit of our collection to help identify gaps in our collection. Amongst other things, the audit revealed our need to include more titles that address race and racism, and to offer more representations of People of Color by BIPOC creators.  In the bookstore, we’re committed to the ongoing work of constantly reevaluating the books we offer for sale, identifying and filling gaps of the books and voices that are absent, educating ourselves as staff who are often looked to for recommendations and resources, and to using our roles as book buyers and booksellers to elevate the voices from BIPOC creators.  

Working together with Literacy Educator, David Feinstein, the bookstore staff wanted to share resources and books we found helpful when doing our own reflections and research, as well as highlight new and much needed additions to our shelves. Currently on display in The Carle’s Reading Library, the book exhibit Black Voices: Picture Books as Antiracist Resources features 70 newly acquired titles by Black artists and writers representing a diverse range of stories starring Black characters. In addition to bringing joy and discovery, we hope these books serve as antiracist resources that encourage honest discussion of representation, race and racism; celebrate a range of Black lives and experiences; and advocate for solidarity in the struggle for racial justice and equity.

 Picture books as Antiracist Resources exhibition

Black Voices: Picture Books as Antiracist Resources 

Talking Race & Racism   

It's never too early to start talking about race with children. Research shows that children not only recognize race from a young age, but also develop racial biases by ages three to five. If you're looking for tools to begin honest discussions about race and racism, check out these titles:

 Can I Touch Your Hair?, Chocolate Me!, Don't Touch My Hair!, The Day You Begin, Freedom Summer, Honeysmoke, I Am Enough, I Am Alfonso Jones, and I Too Am America

Can I Touch YOur Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane Evans

Don't Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson

Honeysmoke by Monique Fields, illustrated by Yesenia Moises

I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings

I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier

 Let's Talk About Race, New Kid, The Other Side, A Place Like Me, Skin Again, Something Happened in Our Town, Tan to Tamarind, The Undefeated, Whose Toes are Those?, and Why Am I Me?

Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour

New Kid by Jerry Craft

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Noa Denmon

Skin Again by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivion

Tan to Tamrind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Iyengar, illustrated by Jamel Akib

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt, illustrated by Selino Alko and Sean Qualls

  

Celebrating Black Lives  

How characters are represented in books matters as much as who is represented. Books about struggle and resilience are important, but so are books that star Black children in everyday situations celebrating joy, love, and imagination. If you're just beginning to introduce books that include people who don't look like your family, these are great titles for building a foundation of respect and curiousity for difference:

Cover images arranged in a grid of books from the Celebrating Black Lives booklist

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Ana María Reyes Does Not Live in a Castle by Hilda Eunice Burgos

Another by Christian Robinson

Baby Says by John Steptoe

Be Boy Buzz by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Nneka Myers

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Calling the Water Drum by LaTisha Redding, illustrated by Aaron Boyd

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Cover images arranged in a grid of books from the Celebrating Black Lives booklist

A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Nina Crews

Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane Evans

Homemade Love by bell hooks, illustrated by Shane Evans

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by James Gordon

In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers by Javaka Steptoe

Layla's Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin

Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez

Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

My Rainy Day Rocketship by Markette Sheppard, illustrated by Charly Palmer

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba-Clarke, illustrated by Van T. Rudd

Princess Hair by Sharee Miller

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The Roots of Rap by Carole Boston Weatherfod, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Saturday by Oge Mora

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter by Eric Shabazz Larkin

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Where's Rodney? by Carmen Bogan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

 

Standing Together  

Research by Diverse BookFinder shows that exposure to "cross-group" stories - stories that portray relationships between characters across racial or cultural difference - can reduce intergroup anxiety that leads to prejudice. For books that encourage solidarity and inspire readers to stand together in the struggle for social justice and equity, check out this selection:

Cover images arranged in a grid of books from Standing Together booklist

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing, illustrated by Paulina Morgan

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James Ransome

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Destiny's Gift by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes

Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Magdalena Mora

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Eric Shabazz-Larkin

Insection Allies: We Make Room for All by Carolyn Choi, LaToya Council, and Chelsea Johnson, illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson 

Cover images arranged in a grid of book titles from the Standing Together booklist.

Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving by John Frank, illustrated by London Ladd

Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Milo's Museum by Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Purple Wong

Oh, The Things We're For! by Innosanto Nagara

The Power Book by Claire Saunders, Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, Minna Salami, Mik Scarlet, and Hazel Songhurst, illustrated by Joelle Avalino

Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker

Speak up! by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

We March by Shane W. Evans

Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Young, Gifted, and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

 

Reading Out Loud

Picture books are a valuable starting point for antiracist learning, but they need engaged readers to truly come alive. As Andrea Davis Pinkney writes in her article No Reading, No Peace: The Power of Black Stories Out Loud, “It's one thing to buy Black books. But sharing them is what truly brings these important stories to life. Reading aloud is the turn-key difference in ensuring that children's books featuring Black and brown characters and experiences have relevance and staying power.”  

The new Netflix series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, hosted by 15-year-old creator of the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign Marley Dias, demonstrates the amazing power books can have when read aloud. Tune in to watch as renowned Black performers read books by Black authors, including several of the titles listed above. 

For guidance on how to begin talking about race when reading with children, below are some tips from librarian and scholar Jessica Anne Bratt that we’ve found especially useful:  

  • It’s okay to point out racial differences. “Is that skin darker or lighter than your own?” 
  • Share your feelings about race when reading with your child. 
  • Use fair/unfair when talking about stereotypes in picture books. 
  • Respect your child’s curiosity about the world around them by answering their challenging and sometimes embarrassing questions. 
  • Point out cultural differences when reading picture books. When exploring those differences, reinforce that “different” and “weird” are not the same thing. 

We are continuing to compile lists of articles and books that explore the relationship between race, art education, early childhood education, and museum education. Below are a few of the resources we are continuing to learn from:  

Talking About Race: A collection of resources, tools, and guidance gathered by the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  

The Brown Bookshelf: A website “designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.”  

EmbraceRace: A local organization that identifies, organizes, and creates “the tools, resources, discussion spaces, and networks we need to meet 4 goals: Nurture resilience in children of color, nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes, raise kids who think critically about racial inequity and support a movement of kid and adult racial justice advocates for all children.”  

Teaching about Racism, Race, and Police Violence: Teaching Tolerance’s resources list to “help spur much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism, but they can also empower your students to enact the changes that will create a more just society.”  

Equity & Culturally Responsive Resources: Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race, and Equity has created a list of “resources on equity and culturally responsive practices, including information on the foundations of anti-racist education and age- and grade-specific resources, which can help both adults and children construct knowledge around building relationships, naming injustice, and working together to change the world.” They also include "pandemic-specific resources on race, equity, self-care, and distance learning.”  

Social Justice and Museums Resource List: A crowdsourced bibliography focusing on social justice and the museum field initiated and edited by La Tanya S. Autry of Artstuffmatters. 

If you have any suggestions on resources or picture books we should consider adding, please add a comment to this post to share with us and others. The work of identifying gaps and failings, and learning and building our practice will be ongoing as we continue to grow as a museum. May we all learn and grow together!

 

by Eliza Brown

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 5th, 2020 at 9:00 am and is filed under Booklists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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