Though statistics indicate only 2% books published in the United States in 2013 were about Black children, there are still writers who are writing about our experiences. The numbers in Canada are a lot less with many writers of African descent going the self-published route. Here are some examples of great Canadian books in all of the genres for children and young adults:
1) Angelot Ndongmo - Loving Me and Boy, I Am Loving Me
2) Shauntay Grant - Up Home
3) Jody Nyasha Warner - Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged"
4) Rosemary Sadlier - The Kids Book of Black Canadian History
5) Nadine Chevolleau - Stop Kissing Me, Mommy!
6) Janet Campbell - Purpose Finds His Gift
7) Angela Walcott - I Want To Be
8) Simone Da Costa - Emily-Rose's Day at the Farm
9) Dirk McLean - Play Mas'! A Carnival ABC and Curtain Up: A Book for Young Performers
10) Adwoa Badoe - Anansi's Pot of Wisdom and Nana's Cold Days
Early years (0-5 years old)
From their skin to their hair to their smile, Brampton-based author Angelot Ndongmo helps young readers to appreciate themselves with the series Loving Me. Through clever rhymes, Angelot celebrates the wonderful things about being a little girl in Loving Me which is self-published. Angelot received a great response from parents and kids. When the author was asked if she could make one just for boys, she wrote Boy! I Am Loving Me!
In Up Home, Nova Scotia-born poet Shauntay Grant remembers her summers visiting North Preston, Nova Scotia. Vivid images of picking blueberries, going to church, and being with her cousins and grandparents make you feel like you are almost there.
Advanced Picture Book (6-9 years old)
Viola Desmond Won’t be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner is based on a true-life civil rights hero from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is 1946. When Viola Desmond decides to go to the movies in New Glasgow, after her car breaks down and has to be fixed overnight, she is faced with the segregation law that whites and blacks could not sit together, even though she already paid for her ticket. The next series of events change history with Viola at the centre.
Middle Grade Novel (9-12 years old)
Christopher Paul Curtis tells the story of Elijah who is the first child in his family to be born free in Buxton, Ontario. When a thief steals his friend’s money, money to buy a family’s freedom from slavery in the southern United States, Elijah is in hot pursuit on a dangerous journey. But will he ever get back home?
Young Adult Novel (12-16 years old)
Set in Toronto, Harriet’s Daughter by Marlene Nourbese Philip is the story of friends. Margaret is born in Canada of Barbadian parents. Her new best friend Zulma has arrived from Tobago and misses her homeland. Can a Margaret’s game of the Underground Railroad, where she is the conductor Harriet, get Zulma any closer?
Nadia Hohn is a Canadian children’s author and educator; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.