By Robert Stitt
Children are inspired when they read about successful people who look like them and have similar backgrounds as they do. One way to bring this truth to younger children is through illustrated children’s books. There has been a definite vacuum in this area when it comes to ones about African American leaders in art, music, science, entertainment and social activism, but times are changing.
Black Enterprise noted that Buzz Feed put together a list of 26 books that celebrated the lives of black leaders, here are 10 of those illustrated books that will bring the lives of black leaders to life.
1. “Dizzy” tells the story of the legendary trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Dizzy Gillespie who popularized the bebop style of jazz.
2. Bessie Coleman, the first African American to have a pilot’s license, has her story told through “Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman”. Readers will learn about success despite adversity when they learn how she traveled all the way to France to earn her license after every American school refused to teach her.
3. “Wangari’s Trees of Peace” tells the story of Wangari Maathai the Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist who started by simply planting a few seedlings.
4. The story of Michael Jordan’s childhood as seen through the eyes of his sisters is revealed in “Salt in His Shoes”.
5. “Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America” tells how Gordon Parks captured racism with his camera and eventually became the first black director in Hollywood.
6. Sojourner Truth, a freed slave, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist has her tale told in “Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride”.
7. Everyone from Count Basie to Billie Holiday played with “Little Melba and Her Big Trombone”. You can read about the child prodigy trombonist in this great book.
8. “I Am Jackie Robinson” drives home the inspiring message — “We all can be heroes.” As the title says, this is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball.
9. The story of Florence Mills is told in “Harlem’s Little Blackbird”. Mills was a singer who became popular during the Harlem Renaissance and became an advocate for black performers.
10. The disabled war veteran turned successful artist, Horace Pippin is told in “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin”.
There are many more great books being written to celebrate black America. With so many negative stories in the news, it is important to share the positive stories of hope, perseverance and success. These titles will give you and your children a good start.