USA Today Lists Four Books that Will Help Children Understand Black History Month Better

4798 New books cover everything from slavery to the Civil War to WWII to MLK Jr.
To mark Black History Month, whose origins go back to February 1926, when Negro History Week was created, USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer recommends four new illustrated books for young readers.

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad
By Henry Cole
Scholastic, 38 pp., ages 4 and up
* * * ½ out of four

With simple but elegant graphite drawings and not one word of dialogue, Henry Cole, a former elementary school teacher turned book illustrator, imagines a dramatic encounter during the Civil War. A young white girl on a Southern farm is sent on a chore. She notices someone hiding in the corn stalks. All she (and we, the readers) see is a fearful eye and a tiny glimpse of a black face. Which leaves the girl with the toughest of moral decisions, especially when two men who appear to be hunting runaway slaves show up. Cole's drawings are as expressive as those of Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret). They're interactive in the oldest sense, demanding the participation of readers.

I Have a Dream: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Schwartz & Wade, 32 pp., for all ages
* * * ½

Nearly 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what is arguably the most enduring speech of the 20th century about his dream of racial equality. "It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream," he said. With majestic oil paintings, Kadir Nelson illustrates the iconic passages of the 17-minute speech and the scene at the Lincoln Memorial, where it was delivered. Kadir's most poignant painting is of King's four children, dressed in their Sunday best, along with his words: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Published in arrangement with King's family, which holds the speech's copyright, the book comes with the sound of history: an audio CD of the original speech.


Source: USA Today | Bob Minzesheimer
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