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Following the dream

Black History Month reads


Following the dream
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Dream Street

Tricia Elam Walker & Ekua Holmes

This colorful picture book pairs vivid prose with mixed media illustrations celebrating the beauty of community. Each spread focuses on a resident of Dream Street, where “the houses and the dreams inside are different as thumbprints.” Little girls dream of becoming scientists and authors, while a retired mail carrier lives his dream of never wearing a uniform again: “He tips his big brown fedora and greets everyone with, ‘Don’t wait to have a great day. Create one!’” The ending affirms how children and their dreams flourish with tender nurturing. (Ages 4-8)


We Wait for the Sun

Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

In this tender childhood story from civil rights activist Dovey Johnson Roundtree, young Dovey Mae and her grandmother join other women on an early morning excursion to pick blackberries. Through shadowy woods they follow the beat of birds’ wings to find the best berry bushes and then fill their buckets as they wait for the sun. Raissa Figueroa’s illustrations vibrantly capture the story’s transition from pre-dawn dark to a magnificent morning sky, using deep blue and purple tones that recede into pink and golden hues. End notes offer additional biographical information. (Ages 4-8)


Pink and Say

Patricia Polacco

The lives of two teenage boys—one black, one white—intersect on a Civil War battlefield where both are fighting for the Union cause. When Pink rescues an injured Say, he carries him past peril to the safety of his mother’s cabin. The boys regain health and strength of character until further heartache separates them. Polacco based this 1994 picture book on a true story passed down through the generations of her family. Note to parents: A character takes God’s name in vain and marauders kill Pink’s mother. (Ages 8-12)


Amos Fortune, Free Man

Elizabeth Yates

This 1950 book envisions what life might have been like for a real-life Amos Fortune after slave traders ripped him from his African homeland, shipped him to the colonies, and sold him as a slave. The plot offers an idealized account of Amos’ years in slavery—kindly masters without the hardships rampant in slavery—before transitioning to life as a free man. In a New Hampshire graveyard his tombstone reads “born free in Africa, a slave in America, he purchased liberty, professed Christianity, lived reputably, and died hopefully, Nov. 17, 1801.” (Ages 8-12)

Afterword

In The Big Wide Welcome (The Good Book Company, 2022), Trillia Newbell addresses favoritism, using James 2 as a springboard to show children why playing favorites with people is an ongoing problem that began a long time ago. We might be tempted to play favorites, Newbell writes, because of a person’s abilities, money, or skin color: “We can play favorites for all sorts of reasons. But in the Bible, James said, Don’t play favorites; choose to love.” Newbell then points to Jesus and encourages children to “love people like [Jesus] loves people. … Our churches should be big-wide-welcome places—places where there are no favorites, and everyone is loved.”

In Made by God (Harvest Kids, 2021) Tony Evans also exhorts children to love like Jesus and reminds them that despite our differences, all people are equally “made by God—with love.” Using simple terms, he defines racism and challenges young readers to take a stand against injustice. —K.C.


Kristin Chapman

Kristin is the children's book page editor and an editorial assistant for WORLD Magazine. She graduated from two World Journalism Institutes, including one in Asheville and one in Austin. Kristin resides with her husband, Jarrett, and their three children in New Castle, Pa.

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