Black History Month begins in a couple of days and soon teachers will pull out picture books with Black characters and or will teach a unit on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman. Which is…kind of depressing, actually, because in way too many of these classrooms February is the only time kids regularly see books with Black characters or learn about important Black historical figures. While a few lessons during the month of February is arguably better than nothing, children should be reading books with Black characters and exploring historical events involving Black people all year long.
Teaching Tolerance has a good list of things to think about as you plan Black History Month activities and lessons.
Other resources teachers might explore include:
Lessons and Teaching Ideas that Use Primary Resources
Lessons and Resources from the NEA
And, finally, a booklist. Children need to read books about the Civil Rights movement and about the historical struggles for justice and equality that Black people have engaged in, but children also need to read about regular families and normal kid experiences:
28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball
I woke to news of the death of Francisco Alarcón, a Chicano poet and author of several bilingual children’s books. I’ve used his bilingual poetry with children and students in children’s literature courses many times; there’s just nothing like pulling out a bilingual picture book and seeing a group of kids go from disengaged to wide-eyed and enthusiastic when they see and hear words in Spanish. I applaud Francisco Alarcón for showing our Spanish-speaking students that their language and lives are valued enough to put in a book. How sad that we won’t see anything else from this fantastic author.
Big congratulations to Matt de la Peña for winning the Newbery Medal for Last Stop on Market Street! This book also won a Caldecott Honor award.
And of note for Rio Grande Valley readers: The Smoking Mirror by David Bowles won a Pura Belpre Author Honor award. David Bowles is from the Rio Grande Valley and has written a number of books that focus on life in the borderlands.
The entire list of awards can be found here.