In honor of Black History Month (February), the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has selected a list of illustrated books that highlight the contributions of African-Americans. This list of more than a dozen recommended books appears on the Foundation's website, www.ezra-jack-keats.org/ejk-list/.
"Ezra Jack Keats was committed to celebrating diversity through writing and art-specifically through the power of picture books," says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. In honor of Black History Month, we've handpicked books that tell compelling stories, both fictional and historical, about African-Americans. Through gorgeous art and powerful storytelling, these books will engage people of all ages, colors and ethnicities."
Among the Foundation's recommendations are:
Written by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (Atheneum, 2001)
A touching story of two boys-one white, one black-who make sense of the hatred stirred up in the South in the 1960s by staying true to their friendship.
Most Loved in All the World
Written by Tonya Cherie Hegamin, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera (Houghton Mifflin, 2009)
A daughter remembers the beloved mother who sends her to freedom via the Underground Railroad with a handmade quilt to remind her that she is the "most loved in all the world."
John Henry: An American Legend
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (Pantheon, 1965)
The mythic figure of John Henry is believed by many to have actually lived. In Keats' powerfully illustrated rendition, the famed "steel-drivin' man" pits himself against the machine that is threatening the jobs of his fellow railroad men.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
Written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray, 2011)
A beautifully illustrated recounting of history by an African-American matriarch, which encompasses the life of her African-born grandfather and her own vote for the first black President.
Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion
Written by Heather Lang, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Boyds Mills Press, 2012)
The inspiring journey of this natural athlete from the rural South who, in 1948, became the first African-American to win gold at the Olympics.