I would like to introduce you to fairly new Early Reader Series created by a gentleman named Derrick Barnes. This is a FABULOUS article and looking back, as much as I LOVED “The Baby-sitters Club” and “Nancy Drew”, I remember scouring the shelves of my neighborhood library for a wider variety of books. As I longed for more than the traditional “classics” in school, I went straight from Nancy Drew to Mark Mathabane’s “Kaffir (Nigger) Boy” to depictions of Native American life and traditions in Sue Harrison’s “Mother Earth, Father Sky”, eventually finding myself engrossed in the tales of adult happenings through the tales of Terry McMillan…even attempting “Jazz”, “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison (who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993) all before making my way through the eighth grade.
My mother was elated that I was an avid reader but had she known the content of many of the books I was reading at that age…yeah…I don’t want to imagine.
I say all of this to bring attention to the need for age appropriate literature for young people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. While this is an article on a website which predominately focuses on literature by African-Americans, I encourage people from all backgrounds to give young people the opportunity to explore outside of the familiar. Growing up in Kansas, it took effort of my own to learn about the writers that were used to instill the knowledge that generated love for my history and the possibilities of my future as a Black woman in America.
Again, I encourage you and everyone you know with young children, ‘tweens and teenagers to look into these books. Seek them out online and in stores where they are available for purchase and request them at retailers where they are not yet available. Be it for a young person in your home or as a gift in the future, we have to support reading and a love for literature in our young people EARLY and continue to nurture that appetite as they get older. Also, there is a world of writers, particularly “minorities” in America, out there who need our support as well!
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