If you grow up as an insider, it's hard to see the world from the point of view of an outsider. Books do that for us.
I read a book about a person from a culture outside my own and---whammy!---I am thrust into the shoes of that world, I am in the body of that world, I am in the head of that world. I can't climb into those shoes, that body, that head without feeling the pain of that world, the cruelties of exclusion, the longing to join the larger culture, along with the joys of being part of a rich culture....it's a mixed ride. It's a ride that changes me.
Here are ten children's books that allow me into the African-American experience for a little while.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Bud, Not Buddy
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
Uncle Jed's Barber Shop
The Other Side
Goin' Someplace Special
More Than Anything Else
The Coretta Scott King Book Award celebrates African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young people. This is a great place to start if you are looking for good children's books by African-Americans.
Update: Here's a link to an 11-year-old girl who is attempting to collect 1000 books featuring a main character who is an African-American girl.
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