by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s February and that means it’s Black History Month in the United States. While I’ve always felt that African American history is, and should be treated as, American history, I also like that fact that, once a year, we set aside time to honor the efforts and contributions of Black people. This year, Black History Month is especially exciting for me because it marks the release of my newest book, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, a middle grade collection of biographies illustrated by Nikita Leanne.
The theme of my school visits for the book is “History Matters”. With that in mind, let’s take look at three wonderful Black history books that are available now.
Written by Tracey Baptiste, AFRICAN ICONS: TEN PEOPLE WHO SHAPED HISTORY, dispels the myth that Black history begins with slavery. The ten subjects covered in the book are scholars, inventors, and royalty. They are also native Africans who accomplishments pre-date slavery.
Hillary D. Wilson’s amazing illustrations put faces to the names of some of history’s greatest figures, including Hannibal Barca, Amanirenas, and (my personal favorite) Aesop. Each profile will inspire you and incite your curiosity. This is truly a history book that belongs on every shelf.
Over the last few years, the horrors of the Tulsa Massacre have been front in center. It was the subject of the tv series The Watchman and multiple books and news segments have covered the tragedy. Nikki Shannon Smith’s new novel, LENA AND THE BURNING OF GREENWOOD: A TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVAL STORY tells the story of young Black girl whose family is forced to flee when Greenwood is attacked by a white mob intent on destruction.
Part of the Girls Survive series, LENA AND THE BURNING OF GREENWOOD allows readers to see and feel what it was like for Black family’s during this horrific event. In addition to a captivating tale that will have readers hearts pounding, the book includes backmatter which provides more information on the Greenwood District and discussion questions and writing prompts to help readers process their feelings on this incident.
I’ve loved baseball ever since I was a kid playing in the outfield for Stapleton Spence Packing. I fell in love with the Negro League baseball watching The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings around the same time. Starring James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams, the film follows the travels of a barnstorming Negro Leagues team as they attempt to make a name for themselves in baseball. It should be no surprise, then, that one of my favorite history books for kids is Varian Johnson’s What Were the Negro Leagues?”
Covering everything from the reason behind the need for the Negro Leagues, to the stories of legends like Rube Foster, Gus Greenlee, and Satchel Paige, WHAT WERE THE NEGRO LEAGUES? tells the story of baseball giants that were every bit is important to baseball as Babe Ruth, Whitey Ford, and Mickey Mantle. Stephen Marchesi’s illustrations bring the excitement to life and the book includes a detailed timeline of the Negro Leagues as well as a bibliography which directs reading to other resources.
Well, that’s all for this month. I encourage you to check out these wonderful books. Drop the titles of your favorite Black history books in the comments below. Happy writing and have a magical month!
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery Book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, was published by Clearfork Publishing/Spork. His early reader series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, is available now from Picture Window Press. He is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY. His middle grade non-fiction book, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, was just released by Rockridge Press.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a 2021 Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation.
Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break