This year’s national Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Arts.” African Americans and the broader African diaspora have had a profound impact on the arts, including literature, visual and performing arts, architecture, music, culinary arts, fashion, and film. Yet, these contributions have often gone unrecognized. February is our time to remember, learn about, and celebrate black history and culture within our community, with our allies, and with our friends to come.
“No Sidekicks Here” launches our children’s book recommendations for South Orange’s Black History Month 2024 celebrations. These books feature black children as protagonists so they are not supportive characters. Some books show children embracing classic songs of black musicians. Other books show children engaged in the arts from dance to acting to fashion and more. Take a look and see if you can find a new book to read or share with a child in your life today. Enjoy!
Ages 0 - 4
Every Little Thing. (Author: Cedella Marley) Vibrant images bring Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” to life as a little boy joyfully moves through his day.
I, Too, Sing America. (Author: Langston Hughes) Vivid illustrations bring this celebrated Langston Hughes poem to life.
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (Author: Wynton Marsalis) A little boy hears how the sounds of the neighborhood create their own beats and rhythms.
Ages 5 - 8
When Langston Dances. (Author: Kaija Langley) Inspired by Alvin Ailey dancers, Langston wants to learn ballet so that he can dance, too.
Not Quite Snow White. (Author: Ashley Franklin) Tameika loves to sing and dance, but when she hears others say that she’s too brown to play Snow White for the school play, she decides to show them what she can do at her audition.
Aaron Slater, Illustrator. (Author: Andrea Beaty) Aaron loves words and stories, but his dyslexia makes it difficult for him to tell his own stories. Through illustrations, Aaron finds his voice.
Show the World. (Author: Angela Dalton) From dance to photography to music, this book celebrates the many ways children can express themselves to celebrate their creativity.
Alaina and the Great Play. (Author: Eloise Greenfield) Waiting to say her lines for the school play, a little girl falls in love with live theater.
Goodnight, Little Dancer. (Author: Jennifer Adams) A brother and sister get ready for bed and say goodnight to their world of dance before drifting off to sleep.
I Can Write the World. (Author: Joshunda Sanders) Ava explores the beautiful art and music in her Bronx community to tell stories about her neighborhood that counter negative images she sees on the news.
The Word Collector. (Author: Peter Reynolds) Jerome collects words and uses them to write poems, create songs, share his feelings, and help other children express themselves.
Mary Had a Little Glam. (Author: Tammi Sauer) Mary has a flair for fashion and helps her classmates dress for success not only in class but also on the playground.
Drummer Boy of John John. (Author: Mark Greenwood) Carnival is coming in Trinidad and the Roti King has promised free rotis to the best band in the parade. Can Winston find a band in time to compete for the prize?
Yellow Dog Blues. (Author: Alice Faye Duncan) Bo Willie wakes up one morning to find his beloved yellow dog gone, which leads Bo Willie to sing the blues while searching for his puppy love through the Mississippi Delta, the land of the Blues.
The Adventures of Qai Qai. (Author: Serena Williams) In this magical story, a little girl is nervous about her solo performance at her dance recital and gains self-confidence from her favorite doll when it comes to life.
When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley
Step up and get ready for a dazzling Storytime Saturday treat! As part of South Orange's 2024 Black History Month, we bring you Langston's story.
Langston is a talented hoopster, but his heart beats to a different rhythm. Ever since he watched the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, he dreams of pirouettes and piqués, and his fancy footwork could stop traffic. But can he make his dream a reality with his community's support?
Join us on this adventure, written by the brilliant Kaija Langley, with visuals that will make you want to dance, and read by the one and only South Orange Village Trustee Bobby Brown. Let's boogie!
Visit the Community Relations Committee's YouTube page to watch the video (or click on the image above).