Here at LEE & LOW, we believe in reading diversely year round. We know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident, it requires a regular and concerted effort. Ethnic heritage months like Black History Month can be a double-edged sword as people often only look at their ethnic book collections during these months. In her TedTalk, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the dangers of a single story. By allowing for only one kind of narrative, we can fall into the danger of stereotyping.
In honor of Black History Month, LEE & LOW staff shares seven books by African American authors that we’ve read recently, as well as seven of our favorite LEE & LOW titles by African American Authors:
The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.
February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.
In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.
Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history. Continue reading
2016 is the second year in a row that all the 20 nominees in the acting categories for the Oscars are all white. This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite created by April Reign to resurface. While television has started to become more diverse, this still isn’t reflected in other media. Continue reading
New York, NY—January 19, 2016—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Lisa Brathwaite of Stone Mountain, Georgia, is the winner of the company’s sixteenth annual New Voices Award. Her manuscript, Show and Tell: The Story of Eunice Johnson and the Ebony Fashion Fair, is a picture book biography of Eunice Johnson, African American publishing executive and founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair. Since childhood, Eunice had a passion for fashion. She enjoyed sewing her own clothes and took pride in her original style and immaculate technique. As an adult, she and her husband founded Ebony, a magazine that celebrates African American life and culture. And in 1958, Eunice created the Ebony Fashion Fair, a fund-raising event that quickly evolved into a nationwide tour that showcased high fashion for the African American audience and challenged accepted standards to embrace beauty in all forms. Continue reading
We’re so excited to introduce readers to our new early chapter books! Two new chapter book series in our DIVE INTO READING line will help you find the perfect book to support children in each stage of their reading development. These books will be available February 2016.
Today is Human Rights Day. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists basic rights and freedoms that every person should get, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.
In Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz, Maya takes an old blanket that her abuela sewed for her and turns it into many different things. Her blanket turns into a dress, then a skirt, then a rebozo, a scarf, a headband and even a bookmark! Maya teaches us that something old can be turned into a new and beautiful something else.
Our new children’s book, Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, tells the incredible story of Ira Aldridge. When we’ve shown this book to readers, we get one of two responses:
1) “I’ve never heard of Ira Aldridge.”
2) “You have a book about Ira Aldridge??! That’s so wonderful!”
The truth is, bringing Ira’s story to new readers is one of our great joys as a publisher. His is a story of phenomenal talent and determination, of someone who was truly born to do what he did. Too often, history has let the achievements of black people fall through the cracks–especially when they take place outside the narrative of slavery and civil rights. If you look at the African American biographies that appear most often, so many of them are focused on names we already know: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass. While it is important to remember these people and their achievements, acknowledging the contributions of black people in other arenas–art, music, science, and in this case, Shakespearean acting–is equally important. Continue reading
In The Story I’ll Tell a young child asks where he came from. His mother tells him fantastical tales with a kernel of truth that piece together his journey across a wide ocean to his new family. The Story I’ll Tell was released this month and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly which called it “an unabashed love letter. . . [that] many families will treasure.” In this guest post, author Nancy Tupper Ling discusses where the idea for The Story I’ll Tell came from.