These days, I’m making more of an effort to finish a book a month. Which is 100% possible if I get to my evening reading with the kids, and subsequent bed and cuddle time, fast enough. But in the contrast of reading my things and their things, I’ve realized I don’t truly enjoy reading them books that I don’t personally find interesting. I’m all for taking one for the team, and reading things to the kids no matter my personal feelings. Still, the difference in reading books that can be enjoyed as a family versus ones I read just for them, is clear.
February is Black History Month, and there are plenty of books that a family could read this month and every month of the year. Besides it being an activity that helps grow your child’s reading skills, books have been an entryway into big and small conversations for our family. With Oak being five, I realize that he remembers every powerful, stand-out bit. For River, who’s now 9, books have become this deeply intimate relationship. Rarely, does she leave a book unfinished.
I’m inspired by them as their relationship to books grow. Here are a few of our family favorites:
Hair love is described as a tender “ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.” I couldn’t agree more. In a sea of books that showcase mother/daughter dynamics with hair, this book stands out as a magical and necessary normaliziation. It’s also a Oscar nomiated 7-minute short film, too!
Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the author, Vashti Harrison in person. As an author, it’s inpsiring to see other authors in real life that are true examples of the work they’re doing with kids. Little leaders, is chalk full of information for parents and kids to digest. It’s simply beautiful, and this combination makes it hard to put down.
Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry
I’ve listed this book a few times over the year, and what may be most surprising is how we enjoy some of the poems as a family. I’m sure it is the beauty of a boy laying in the grass, that has River and Oak picking it up time and time again. For me, this is one of the many reasons it stays at the top of my book stack. The cover feels soft and calls you in. While every poem isn’t for children, there are many that I love reading with my kids. Even when they don’t understand the layers of beauty in them, I am sure they will soon enough. You can hear more about it right here.
Toni Morrison: The Big Box
While this book is new to our family, the concept is one I think every parent may be interested in ingesting with their kids. “To make this group of kids abide by the rules, the grown-ups create a world inside a box . . . with toys, games, treats, and gifts, but these clever children are able to find their way out of the box and back into reality.” In a seaon when many of us are considering things, and how they may be interperted by our children now and in the long run, I can’t suggest it enough.
Langston Hughes, Poetry For Young People
I know I am of millions who read several Langston Hughes poems this time of year. And as a family, Langston Hughes’ poems have been especially important, too. So much so, when we got our kittens, we named one Langston. As silly as it may seem, to be reminded of his poetry daily is a wonderful treat. And to have his poetry that I can share with the kids as a family at night, is even more-so.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir in the form of a children’s book. Of course we love it. But of equal importance, Jacqueline Woodson is a neighborhood writer, mother, and like many other poets and writers, was inspired by Langston Hughes. This is evident in this book. It’s refreshing to be able to read a memoir alongside a child, and share it with them. You can hear more about it right here.
I’d love to know about what books you enjoy reading as a family, especially for Black History Month!
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