- Written by Cheryl Willis Hudson
- Category: Kids & Family
- Published: 26 January 2018
How do you celebrate Black History Month with your children? February is a great time for children to explore other cultures, but wouldn’t it be great for kids to be interested and excited about African-American history, culture and experiences throughout the year?
That’s the question that author Cheryl Willis Hudson asked several years ago when she participated in a PBS Expert Q&A session. She offered the following tips you can use to assure the Black history material you select for your child is meaningful and relevant this month and all year long.
Buy a book by a Black author or illustrator and make it a part of your child's permanent collection. Books offer a fun and easy way to introduce your children to new cultures and help them explore the experiences of people from different backgrounds.
Look for books that are inclusive and reflect the diversity of our communities. Books help illustrate that diversity is a natural part of everyday life. Don't forget to read the books for general accuracy. Check copyright dates and be sure to avoid outdated, stereotypical and irrelevant content.
When and if children ask questions about race, don't sweep differences under the rug. Give children simple, concrete explanations when they have questions about differences. Select books that affirm a valued place for all children. Try to find books that will help prepare children for the complex world in which they live.
Make a note of the author's perspective. Who is telling the story? Is the author sensitive to the culture that is being described? Has accurate research been done to capture the culture that is being written about?
Make sure your selections include contemporary stories. Black History Month is celebration of not just history, but of culture and experiences, which are readily reflected in picture books, chapter books, and poetry. Don't limit selections to biographies and non-fiction. Contemporary fiction can encourage your child to make new friends, relate to classmates and neighbors and understand current cultural experiences.
Seek the suggestions and guidance from knowledgeable cultural experts, booksellers and librarians. Coretta Scott King award winning titles are always a good place to start for excellence in text and illustrations.
Buy books from independent presses that specialize in books by and about Black people, as well as books from larger, more commercial publishing houses.
Speak up when you hear bias remarks. A simple response could be, "That language or word or comment is not acceptable. Please do not repeat it."
Discuss the books with your children to show that you are interested in what they are reading and learning.
Use Black History Month as a starting point to introduce children to more books that reflect other cultures and ethnicities, but celebrate Black history and cultural diversity all year long.
Article adapted from “Celebrate Black History All Year Long!” on pbs.org.
About the author: Cheryl Willis Hudson is an author and publisher of children’s books. With her husband Wade, she co-founded Just Us Books, an independent publisher of Black-interest books for children. The author of over 20 books for young people, Cheryl’s titles include My Friend Maya Loves to Dance, From Where I Stand, Hands Can and AFRO-BETS 123 Book. Together Cheryl and Wade recently served as project editors for My Holy Bible for African-American Children and Our Heritage & Faith Holy Bible for African-American Teens. Visit her website.