#DecolonizeReading2023 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Celebrating Black Boys and Girls

"There's no character, no type, no mold you must fit, no shrinking or hiding or diminishing your wit." - Kirby Howell-Baptiste.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). It has been awhile since I joined this reading community and I intend to be more present this year, life circumstances permitting.

Similar to last year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
  5. Translated or international literature

Little Black Boy: Oh, The Things You Will Do! (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Larry C. Fields III Illustrated by Paul Davey
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2022)
ISBN: 9780593406267 (ISBN10: 0593406265) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Given the number of inspirational diverse stories published as of recent, it may be easy to forget the fact that twenty to thirty years ago (or more), it was a struggle to find stories that centralize narratives of young children of color.

Told in rhyming verse, this is a story about everything a little Black boy can be. People who have been following GatheringBooks for awhile now would know that I do not particularly enjoy rhyming text – but this does not mean that this applies to all readers, and so this picturebook will definitely work for those who appreciate stories told in rhyme.

The artwork seems to be computer-generated – which again may not work for other readers – but the message conveyed remains uplifting and joyful. I wish there was a short afterword at the end of the book that explains who Samuel M. Nabrit, Robert K. Trench and Ernest Everett Just are (see my review of a picturebook biography on Ernest Everett Just), as that would have added another layer of substance to an otherwise just another feel-good book.

Little Black Girl: Oh, The Things You Can Do! (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Kirby Howell-Baptiste Illustrated by Paul Davey
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2022)
ISBN: 9780593406236 (ISBN10: 0593406230) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Written in pretty much a similar vein to the Little Black Boy, this picturebook encourages young Black girls to dream widely and to pursue their aspirations regardless of what other people say.

I seem to gravitate more towards this book than the former one – maybe because there were a larger variety of professions featured in the narrative that defy gender stereotypes, for one.

And there was also a level of complexity in the portrayal of establishing one’s identity across cultural nuances that I appreciated seeing:

Once again, it would have been nice to see an Afterword that would detail the contributions of Audre Lorde, Claudette Colvin, Toni Morrison, Florence Griffith Joyner, Hattie McDaniel and Joy Buolamwini. Links or references to picturebook biographies done on these amazing people would have been good as a Reference list.

#DecolonizeReading2023 Update: 15/16 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

5 comments on “[Monday Reading] Celebrating Black Boys and Girls

  1. lindabaie

    Both are new to me, Myra, & I agree, it would have been great to see some short bios and further resources of those mentioned! Nevertheless, I’ll look for them! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Given the number of inspirational diverse stories published as of recent, it may be easy to forget the fact that twenty to thirty years ago (or more), it was a struggle to find stories that centralize narratives of young children of color.” I’m not sure it was even that long ago. One of those moments that sticks with me from my time in the library is the little black girl who brought up one of Mary Hoffman’s Grace books and announced, “Look Cheriee, I found a girl just like me!” It was an important lesson for me that turned theoretical knowledge that libraries should represent everyone, into an intimate understanding of how powerful it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf

    I really appreciate you sharing both of these books, Myra! I hadn’t seen these books before, but this kind of representation is definitely wonderful to see, and valuable for young readers. My instinct is to say that it’s wonderful these kinds of books have become more common, but then I wonder if it’s just that I notice books like these more when I see them because they’re so rare, amidst a sea of books representing White children.

    It makes sense that adding an afterword to describe some of the important figures mentioned would be helpful, and I also get what you mean about rhyming verse. Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful reviews of these two books!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The illustrations are very eye-catching. I would have appreciated some backmatter though.

    Liked by 1 person

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