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Joy and Resistance: Children's Poetry by Black Writers


What does it mean to be Black in the United States? Poets share their experiences in their own words, full of beauty and power. Celebrate the diversity of Black culture and history with these books for young readers.

The Undefeated
Alexander, Kwame, author.
A powerful ode to Black people in America, as much a poem as it is history, with stunning oil paint illustrations by Kadir Nelson.
Woke : A Young Poet's Call To Justice
Browne, Mahogany L., author.
Poets take on weighty subjects like body positivity, ableism and resistance in this sparkling, inspiring collection.
Jump Back, Paul : The Life And Poems Of Paul Laurence Dunbar
Derby, Sally, author.
"Did you know that Paul Laurence Dunbar originated such famous lines as "I know why the caged bird sings" and "We wear the mask that grins and lies"? From his childhood in poverty and his early promise as a poet through his struggles to find acceptance as a writer and his tumultuous romance with his wife, to his immense fame and his untimely death, Dunbar's story is one of triumph and tragedy. But his legacy remains in his much-beloved poetry" (publisher's description).
One Last Word : Wisdom From The Harlem Renaissance
Grimes, Nikki, author.
"In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance -- including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era -- by combining their work with her own original poetry" (publisher's description).
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices
Hudson, Wade, editor.
"What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists" (publisher's description).
That Is My Dream! : A Picture Book Of Langston Hughes's "dream Variation"
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967, author.
"Dream Variation," one of Langston Hughes's most celebrated poems, about the dream of a world free of discrimination and racial prejudice, is now a picture book stunningly illustrated by Daniel Miyares...An African-American boy faces the harsh reality of segregation and racial prejudice, but he dreams of a different life--one full of freedom, hope, and wild possibility, where he can fling his arms wide in the face of the sun" (publisher's description).
Black Is A Rainbow Color
Joy, Angela, 1975- author.
"A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on" (publisher's description).
Let's Clap, Jump, Sing, & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out! : Games, Songs & Stories From An African American Childhood
McKissack, Pat, 1944- author.
"Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as "Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny," or form a circle for games like "Little Sally Walker." Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like "Amazing Grace" and "Oh, Freedom," or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar" (publisher's description).
Martin Rising : Requiem For A King
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, author.
"In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King's life -- and of his assassination -- through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning" (publisher's description).
Ellington Was Not A Street
Shange, Ntozake.
With vivid, memorable illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Shange explores in verse her own childhood, when Duke Ellington, W. E. B. DuBois and other influential Black leaders visited her home.
Poet : The Remarkable Story Of George Moses Horton
Tate, Don, author.
"Shares the story of George Moses Horton, who born into slavery taught himself to read and earned money by selling his poems to the students of the University of North Carolina, before becoming the first published African American poet of the South" (publisher's description).
Brown Girl Dreaming
Woodson, Jacqueline.
"Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become" (publisher's description).

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