Every year, African Heritage Month is a time for people and communities to come together to celebrate African Nova Scotian history, culture and achievements. February is a time to reflect and to look forward, and we have books that you can share with your children to help with this.
How can reading children's books help us learn about African Heritage? In Dorothy Perkyns' book, Last Days in Africville, we can put ourselves in the shoes of a 12-year old girl about the lose the only home she's ever known, helping us to understand a little bit of Nova Scotia's history. Reading Christopher Paul Curtis' novel Elijah Of Buxton gives us a glimpse into what life was like for slaves and their families who escaped into Canada. Read Fifty Cents and A Dream by Jabari Asim to step into the world of Booker T. Washington, or Viola Desmond Won’t be Budged to remember a Nova Scotia woman whose actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada's black community.
Picture books like Ellen's Broom can teach even the youngest about some old traditions; Jacqueline Woodson's brilliant Show Way gives us a little history lesson about the use of quilts. This book is available as a short film as well, and includes a wonderful interview with the author.
Contemporary stories such as Shauntay Grant's Up Home and Jen C. Johnson's Seeds of Change show us the strength and beauty of community. Shana Burg's recent novel, Laugh with the Moon takes us to a modern-day Africa where a city girl has to learn to live in rural Malawi. Books can lead us down many paths and into journeys we never expected.
Find these books and more on our list of African Heritage books for kids here, and for a Black History timeline, visit this website from the Dominion Institute.
--Angela J. Reynolds, Head of Youth Services