It’s February! And that means it’s Black History Month, a time set aside for reflecting on and honoring the contributions of generations of Black Americans.
Most children living in the United States are exposed to Black History every February. They learn about the most famous African-Americans of history like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. I would argue that librarians should use this time and other opportunities throughout the year to do what we do best: inform and educate. I’m a firm believer in fun learning. Might I suggest some fun ways your library can teach both children and adults about Black History in February and all year long.
Creating a wall display is a great visual effect for any available real estate you may have. An excellent source for historic posters can be found at https://Blackhistorymonth.gov/. There you will find letters, announcements, and other paraphernalia that transport the viewer back in time.
Be sure to pull or purchase reputable books for check out. Include African-American authors that provide accurate information. Check out Marley Dias’ expansive list of 1,000 Black Girl Books featuring Black girls front and center.
Read Books with Black Protagonists
Celebrate Black authors and stories by including them in your storytimes. Choose a wide variety of books that interest both your youngest audience members and your older kiddos. Titles such as “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers and “Skin Like Mine” by Latashia M. Perry fit the bill by appealing to all audiences, children and adults alike.
There are a ton of activities for children to do when celebrating Black History Month. You will find plenty of crafts on the internet. I’m a big believer in providing children with inexpensive crafts they can do on their own or as part of a library program. Click to watch a video on how to make the Diversity Heart Art Activity created by art teacher Cassie Stephens. This activity is great for older children and would be a good accompaniment to a Black History library program.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched a digital initiative called the Searchable Museum. The Searchable Museum reaches beyond the walls of the museum to provide a rich digital experience that includes a multimedia presentation of NMAAHC’s historical narratives, collections and educational resources. Both children and adults are given access to interactive exhibitions that explore fascinating parts of African-American history that are not commonly known. Turn some of your dedicated computers in the children’s area into interactive screens by making the Searchable Museum site the main page.
This post addresses ALSC competency I.5 Demonstrates respect for diversity and inclusion of cultural values, and continually develops cultural awareness and works to address implicit bias in order to provide inclusive and equitable service to diverse populations.
Lola Edwards Gomez is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee. She can be reached at email@example.com