Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Baby board books for Black/African American History Month

It's African American/Black history month. Many bloggers have posted wonderful reviews and lists of appropriate books for adults and children recently. I'm including a few links to those lists at the end of this post.

At 14 months, the bibliophile isn't quite ready for history lessons. However, I thought in honor of Black History Month, I would post a few book reviews of favorite board books of his that just happen to star African American babies. I'd like to expose him to a diversity of races, religions, socio-economic backgrounds in his life and in his reading, but I can't really claim credit for having that motive when these books became favorites. He just located each one at the library and loved them on their own merit, regardless of the color of the characters. These are all small board books, perfect for infants on up.

This one is sure to appeal to fans of "peekaboo":

Peekaboo Morning (Board Book), by Rachel Isadora. This one really appeals to the little bibliophile. We've gotten it out of the library twice, and he enjoyed many reads of it both times. It features a small child happily interacting with his family, toys, and animals, with accompanying text in a peekaboo style.


"Peekaboo! I see.../ my grandma"

Infant's Interest: The frog that "grandma" is holding gets special attention, but he likes the whole book.

And one by Spike Lee, of all people. Dad picked it up at the library. It is a little repetitive (as are many board books), but well received around here:

Please, Baby, Please (Board book), by Spike Lee. The little man enjoyed this one while we had it out of the library (a bit more than mom enjoyed rereading it often). The story/text follows a baby around as her mother pleads with her to do, or not do, various household things, and ends with a reversal of baby making a request of her own for a kiss goodnight. Kadir Nelson's rich illustrations paint an enduring picture of a chubby little handful that her parents wouldn't trade for the world.


"Please don't splash, baby baby, please, baby!"

And one we've reviewed before, but he loves it so much that it is worth repeating (reviewed from his perspective):

Whose Knees are These? (Board book), by Jabari Asim. This board book, found by Dad at the library and soon to be purchased for our own collection, was a surprise hit. It follows a pair of knees, asking the reader in various ways who they belong to, and complementing their loveliness. After we had it out of the library for awhile, I started saying "knee" (only my 10th or so "word," loosely defined). We eventually returned it, and a few weeks later, when mama asked me to point to my knee, I excitedly crawled to the bookshelf shouting "Knee! Knee!" The book was gone! Luckily, the library's copy was on the shelves that day, but we're ordering our own copy today.


"Left knee, right knee, climbing up a stair./ Right knee, left knee, such a mighty pair!"

This one is by the same author:
Whose Toes are Those? (Board book), by Jabari Asim. By the author of "Whose Knees Are These," "Whose Toes" stars a little girl instead of a little boy. We all like "Knees" slightly more, but this one is also cute.


"Who do you suppose has such fine toes?"

EDIT (May, '09).  Booklights (a blog at pbs.org) now has a wonderful post about "diverse board books" that includes all of the above books and many others!

Other posts about Black History Month books for children:

Wild Rose Reader
Maw Books

Want to be included in the list? Feel free to leave me a comment and I'll edit the post to link to your site's list.

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