What is a picture book? So many things! It’s a window to the world, a mirror in which to see oneself, a mini art gallery, a door that leads to exploration, a tool for together time, a gateway to literacy, a generator of joy, even an inspiration for thought and creativity, and so much more.
Though I could argue that picture books are for everyone, that’s a post for another day. Because, first and foremost, picture books are for kids. In the midst of so much going on in our country and across the world right now–protests, civil unrest, the pandemic, and natural disasters–let’s not forget the children.
Note to authors and illustrators, books hold a lot of power. That’s something we don’t think about very often. But think about it now. If children see themselves reflected in the pages of a book, that means something. That tells the child, hey, you know what, you matter. All children deserve that.
To quote children’s author Jarrett Lerner from a recent Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/jarrett.lerner), “We need to keep working for children’s literature that reflects, honors, and celebrates the lives of ALL young people.“
Years ago, there was a psychologist (I wish I could remember her name.) who said something like this: When children are born, they are blank slates. Everything they experience in their lives is written on the slate of who they are and affects who they will become. That idea has always stuck with me, and I try to keep it in the back of my mind when I write picture book stories. Good stories, both fictional and true, are important.
So, today, I’m sharing picture books that feature black children. When your libraries reopen, seek out these beautiful books and share them with your kids. Many libraries offer eBooks, too. Check your library’s website or call them to see how you can access their digital collection. Then browse the picture books there to discover more wonderful titles like these.
And Remember, Kids, You Matter!