Three Books For Black History Month

This year there were three wonderful books to celebrate African American History Month on the Cybils nonfiction picture book shortlist.

Henry Aaron's Dream by Matt Travares (Candlewick Press)
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little Brown Kids), illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill (Candlewick Press)

Although all are about a piece of black history, the flavor of each is distinct.

Henry Aaron’s Dream is an uplifting history of a man who broke barriers with quiet hard work and unquestionable talent. The earthy real story is wonderfully done and Matt Tavares’ illustrations are simply luscious. His illustration of Henry Aaron reading the lineup to see that he was starting a baseball game for the Milwaukee Braves captures an incredibly emotional moment with delicious simplicity.

I like the layout, with a single column of text on each page. It is easy to read aloud to a group. The audience can see the illustrations clearly and you can find the text to read without having to search. Henry Aaron’s Dream is perfect for struggling readers, and the story appeals to all baseball fans, but particularly to boys.

I recently did a blog post about the amazing writing/illustrating pair of Andrea and Brian Pinkney. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is adds yet another high quality book to their bibliography. Although it is not a personal story of one individual, it does tell a piece of history that deserves to be remembered.

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill has a lot of educational potential, but it comes with a warning. Ella Fitzgerald’s early life was a difficult one. Her father wasn’t around, her mother passed away and Ella fell into the wrong sort of crowd. Some of the rough spots may make children uncomfortable. But you could do many fun tie-in activities with reading Skit-Skat:  Play some of Ella Fitzgerald’s music, learn some of the dances, explore the clothes of the time, delve into the history of the Depression, read about Ella Fitzgerald’s later life. Skit-Skat has a vibrant energy that could be a jumping off point to many discoveries. Ready, set, go.

Note: Henry Aaron’s Dream was provided by the publisher as part of the Cybils review process. The other books were available at my local library.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian .

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