Tag Archives: African culture

Maisie’s Scrapbook

Written by: Samuel Narh

Illustrated by: Jo Loring-Fisher

For ages: 3-7 years

Language: English and some Ghanian 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Biracial Family, Love, Imagination. 

Summary: This is a really cute story about a young girl named Maisie and her parents.  Her father is African, and while the ethnicity of her mother is not specifically mentioned,  she appears to be of European descent.  The story is a celebration of the fact that while sometimes Maisie’s parents wear different clothes or call items by different names, they love and hug her the same.  Maisie’s father tells her African stories and her mother comforts her when she gets scared.

The story reads much like a collection of memories, or a scrapbook (calling back to the book’s title).  We absolutely love the illustrations, especially the grumpy looks of Maisie’s face when her parents are nagging her.  Overall, we liked this book and it’s lovely to see a culturally blended and multiracial family represented in a children’s book without that being the entire plot of the story, bashing the reader over the head.  The book is about the memories that Maisie has with her parents, and the love she feels from them.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

7791Samuel Narh was “immersed in many folktales from the African continent and beyond as a child. Narh was born and raised in Ghana. For that reason, he is a natural storyteller. Narh enjoys using words to paint beautiful stories. He brings these attributes to the craft of writing picture books for young children. Narh’s stories are alive and they are meant to touch and move people. The messages are fashioned to enrich the lives of both young children and adults.”



JoPromoStudio1Jo Loring-Fisher is an “artist, illustrator and graduate of Cambridge School of Art’s MA in Children’s Book Illustration. She lives with her husband and two youngest daughters close to Stonehenge on Wiltshire’s beautiful Salisbury Plain in England.

Jo loves the countryside, and enjoy creating images using a range of materials including collage, ink, paint and printmaking. Much of her inspiration comes from observing nature and everyday life. 

Jo loves the scope of subjects that children’s books cover, from light-hearted, to tackling the challenges we all face. She will sometimes favour difficult subject matter softened by the use of her chosen materials.  Jo enjoys illustrating the texts of others, as well as my own material.” 


Grandpa Cacao

Written & Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, African Culture & Traditions, Love, Farming, Agriculture, Chocolate, Community, Cooking.

Summary: This story follows tangential plot-lines of a little girl making her favorite chocolate birthday cake recipe for herself, and also learning about her grandfather who is a farmer, owning a cacao farm.  The book is set up to show the parallels between the main character and her grandfather, because they have never met.  As her father guides her through the cake making process, we learn about both the steps in the cacao harvesting and drying process as well as the characteristics the two share.  They both word hard and have “boat-wide feet”, along with several other important skills like smelling rain or cold weather.

As the cake gets closer to being done, so does the cacao drying process, and the main character learns about how her grandfather and father would go to the market to sell the  dried cacao to chocolate processors.  Afterwards, the pair would surprise her grandmother at her fruit stand!

Now that the cake is finished, our birthday girl is really wondering where her mother could have gone, and when they can eat the cake.  Suddenly the door opens, it’s her mother and an older man she’s never met before.  She studies him for a moment…they both have the same ears, eyes, and smile.  It’s her grandfather, all the way from Africa!  He brings her a cacao fruit, and the book ends with their embrace.

This is a great book, very informative!  In the back is information about cacao and the cacao trade, including information about how to support businesses that do not exploit child labor.  There is also a map and the history of chocolate, as well as the cake recipe mentioned in the book.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is something you learned when reading the book?
  • Do you have any family that lives far away?
  • How would you feel if they surprised you on your birthday?
  • What do you think would be the most fun part about the chocolate-making process?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Watch a video about the chocolate-making process.  Are there other places in the world besides Africa that cacao grows?

About the Author & Illustrator:

71zhtxpjlql._us230_Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: James E. Ransome

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Music, POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Historic Events, Musician, Activism, Abolition, Racism, Trailblazer.  

Summary: This is an interesting and historic tale of a gifted musician, which begins on a West Indies sugar plantation in 1739.  The plantation owner Guillame-Pierre is awaiting the birth of his first child, an interracial boy birthed by Nanon, one of the Guillame-Pierre’s enslaved women.  There is an underlying message that the plantation owner and Nanon were in love but unable to be together in a traditional capacity throughout the book, which will be discussed later on.  The baby is named Joseph, and contrary to a lot of historic narratives from this time he enjoys a life with a very involved father and no labor.  Joseph is free to play and spend time with his father, as well as a private tutor and music lessons.  Nanon and Joseph lived in the main house with his father, but loved to listen to the music played by the enslaved people who lived in their own quarters.  When Joseph was 9, his father moved himself, Nanon, and Joseph back to France.  Nanon was now a free woman, and had her own apartment in a village outside of Paris while Joseph and his father lived in the city.  This is another clue that Nanon and Joseph’s father were in love, as he financed her move and her life as a free woman in France.  Although Joseph was of noble birth, because he was interracial he was unable to fully assume the title he was born into and instead held Chevalier, which was a noble title but the lowest ranking one available.  He continued to receive high class academic education as well as excelled in many sports, which delighted Guillame-Pierre.  Joseph would visit his mother at her apartment every night and tell her about the things he did, knowing she would be unable to experience them due to the color of her skin.

When Joseph was 21, he decided to fully devote himself to music.  In 1769 he was offered first violin and timekeeper for the les Amateurs orchestra, an extremely high honor.  He created new techniques and elevated the orchestra to new heights, playing for the elite night after night.  He composed 6 operas, and a myriad of other musical pieces.  True to the title of his book, he inspired Mozart to continue with his musical undertakings and the two began to play alternating nights at the concert house.  Joseph eventually met and played for French royalty, and was appointed the Queen’s personal music instructor.  In an Author’s Note in the back, we learn during the French revolution he was falsely accused to misusing public funds and imprisoned, but was released and became an abolition activist.

This book is hefty, with a lot of information on each page.  While the age says suited for 5 years and up, most young readers will need assistance in the form of our good old Zone of Proximal Development.  The reader gets a sense of the privilege Joseph was born into, and how it enabled him to become known worldwide for his enthralling musical abilities.  Joseph was the product of two people in love, unable to be together because of both social stigma and legislation.  This is a fascinating story of a little known historical figure and trailblazer, being the first person of color to perform for royalty in the French palace.  The complexities of Joseph’s social situation can be more easily understood by older readers, but the main points of the story can be understood and enjoyed by readers much younger.  The illustrations by Ransome are in typical fashion, beautiful and evocative.  Highly recommend this book, but definitely needs a read through by the educator beforehand!

 Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever moved to a new place?
  • What do you think was going through Joseph’s mind when he was on the ship back to France?
  • Why do you think some people are upset by different skin tones?
  • Do you think Joseph wanted his parents to be able to live together?
  • How proud do you think Joseph was when he worked very hard and was given the first violin position because of that hard work?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Why was the West Indies a popular spot for sugar plantations?  Learn about the history, and why Guillame-Pierre would have moved there temporarily to make money before moving back to France.
  • Joseph was a prolific composer.  Listen to some of his music.  What does it make you feel?  Does it sound different than the music you listen to?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lesa_nola-2Lesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to the local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating my own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.

james-e-ransome-1261135The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky?and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections. PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999 Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.” In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work.  How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book chose Visiting Day as one of the top ten diversity books of 2002.  In 2004 James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist.  He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC. He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs the Board of Education.  His traveling Exhibit, Visual Stories has been touring the United States since 2003.  His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World

Written by: Katie Smith Milway

Illustrated by: Shane Evans

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English & Kirundi

Topics Covered: Refugee Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Empowerment, Global Community, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Historical Figure.

Summary: Deo is a young boy when his village is attacked.  He and his family flee into the night with only what they can carry.  Deo can’t bring his favorite banana leaf ball to play soccer with, but grabs some food and supplies.  Deo is separated from his family, and travels alone for weeks until he reaches a refugee camp named Lukole.  At the camp, Deo notices that people get along when there are enough supplies for everyone but when there are shortages people bicker and steal.  One boy, Remy, is a leader of troublemakers and often picks on Deo.

One day, a man shows up at the camp with a ball.  It’s not made of banana leaves but of leather.  The man shows kids at Lukole how to play soccer, and picks Deo to be a team captain and puts Remy on the same team.  After the game, Deo’s team has won but just by a point!  Deo brings out a banana leaf ball he has made and hidden in his hut and teaches the other children his tricks and teamwork skills.  Fast forward several years, Deo has become a soccer coach and can also leave the refugee camp!  He ends up finding some of his family members and starts a farm with them, also coaching children in his village at soccer.

This book focuses on teamwork and soccer while subtly providing information about refugee camp life and the specific difficulties surrounding that experience. Deo is based on a man named Benjamin Nzobonankira, who was a child refugee turned soccer coach. In the back of the book is several pages talking about Benjamin, the Kirundi language, and tons of resources about non-profit soccer and play groups working around the world.  This book is part of the Citizen Kid collective, which is a collection of books bringing different experiences to light in a developmentally appropriate and empowering way.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Deo felt when he was in Lukole all on his own?
  • What are some ways that Lukole residents built community even though they were displaced from their home villages?
  • How do you think that the folks in refugee camps today are creating their own communities?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the One Hen organization.  What are they doing to empower global citizens?  How can we support groups like this, trying to bring about change to children around the world?
  • Often, we want to make a difference in people’s lives that have less than us.  This is such an important value, but it must be done in a way that is not further marginalizing, othering, or colonizing to the individuals receiving help.  Find an organization that focuses on community and self-empowerment, sustainability, and not pocketing donations.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

katie_smith_milwayKatie Smith Milway, winner of the 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society Award and the 2009 Children’s Africana Book Award for One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, is on a quest to bring world issues to elementary and middle school children. One Hen, set in Ghana, introduces kids to microfinance and the power of social entrepreneurship, and gave rise to the nonprofit organization One Hen, Inc. (www.onehen.org), which offers downloadable resources for educators to teach financial literacy and giving back.

Her 2010 book, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, is set in the Honduran hillsides and introduces kids to the concept of food security and how each of us, at any age, can combat global hunger (www.thegoodgarden.org). And her latest book, Mimi’s Village: And How Basic Health Care Transformed It, set in Kenya, connects kids’ actions for global health to results in Africa.

Katie is also a partner at nonprofit and philanthropy advisor The Bridgespan Group in Boston. She serves on the board of World Vision U.S., has coordinated community development programs in Latin America and Africa for Food for the Hungry International and was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit. She has written several adult books on sustainable development, including The Human Farm: A Tale of Changing Lives and Changing Lands (Kumarian Press, 1994), which documented the work of sustainable agriculture pioneer Don Elias Sánchez (role model for The Good Garden’s teacher).

Prior to Bridgespan, Katie served as editorial director and founding publisher at Bain & Co. A graduate of Stanford University, the Free University of Brussels and INSEAD, Katie spent a decade working in and around more than a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America on sustainable development projects, including village banking, food security, primary health care, water resourcing and education.

700436155In the business of illustration, design and creative development, Shane W. Evans is a multi-talented artist and visionary who combines his world travels with his art to influence creative expression in others. Evans studied at Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts and graduated in 1993 and began traveling the world. In addition to contract work in illustration, graphic design and web design for major companies, Evans has conceptualized and illustrated numerous children’s books. Many of the books have been featured in the media such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, NBA Inside Stuff, Reading Rainbow and Late Night with David Letterman. Shane has received much acclaim within the children’s literary field for his work on children’s books such as “Osceola,” “The Way The Door Closes,” “Shaq and the Beanstalk” and “Take It To The Hoop Magic Johnson.” His accolades range from being honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the 2002 National Book Festival, The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children.

Shane Evans’s talent does not stop at illustration and children’s books. His design work includes unique, one-of-a-kind hand crafted furniture pieces, clothing, CD cover art, photography and a number of other custom made items.

Evans’s work is influenced by his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. Firmly believing in education and creative development for all people, Evans has produced a unique presentation designed to share his gift with all ages, cultures, ethnic groups and backgrounds. His presentations and workshops are specifically tailored to each audience and combine storytelling, art projects and slide presentations from his own work and world travel.

Moses “Fleet” Walker: The First African-American to play Major League Baseball

Hello there! Today is opening day for the Boston Red Sox, and around here, everyone can’t wait for the start of the season! Fenway Park was once again open, and the reminder of Boston baseball led yours truly (Lee) to do a little deep dive into baseball history that doesn’t always get covered-the leagues that made space for athletes of color, all the way back in the 1870’s! This post is a photo-heavy exploration of the amazing pioneer Moses “Fleet” Walker, and his impact on the history of baseball in America.

From the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO:

“African-Americans began to play baseball in the late 1800s on military teams, college teams, and company teams. They eventually found their way to professional teams with white players. Moses Fleetwood Walker and Bud Fowler were among the first to participate. However, racism and “Jim Crow” laws would force them from these teams by 1900. Thus, black players formed their own units, “barnstorming” around the country to play anyone who would challenge them.

In 1920, an organized league structure was formed under the guidance of Andrew “Rube” Foster—a former player, manager, and owner for the Chicago American Giants. In a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster and a few other Midwestern team owners joined to form the Negro National League. Soon, rival leagues formed in Eastern and Southern states, bringing the thrills and innovative play of black baseball to major urban centers and rural country sides in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. The Leagues maintained a high level of professional skill and became centerpieces for economic development in many black communities.”

Moses Fleetwood Walker

“The Moses Fleetwood Walker story is an American story about a constant need to fight for justice, equality and freedom” Rep. David Leland of Columbus, Ohio


Nickname: Fleet
Career: 1883-1889
Positions: c, of, 1b
Teams: minor leagues (1883, 1885-1889), major leagues (1884)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: October 7, 1857, Mt. Pleasant, Ohio
Died: May 11, 1924, Steubenville, Ohio

Seated left, Moses Walker. Top row, third from the left, Weldy Walker.

From the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s eMuseum, which is a wonderful online resource for educators and baseball fans alike:

Photo353083“The son of a doctor, he was born at a waystation on the underground railway for fugitive slaves on their way to Canada, and as a youngster his parents moved to Steubenville, Ohio, where he attended integrated schools and played on integrated baseball teams. Tall, slender, handsome, and intelligent, he became the first black player to play in the major leagues when he played 42 games with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884, batting .263 for the season. A catcher with the ballclub, later in the year he was joined by his brother, Weldy Walker, who joined the team as a replacement outfielder for an injured player. 

(Click to Read) Weldy Walker’s 1888 letter challenging the passing of laws banning black players from playing Major League baseball

In 1887 he played with Newark in the International League, where he and George Stovey formed the first black battery, and Walker hit .263 and stole 36 bases for the season. The superstar of the era, Cap Anson, refused to play in the game because of their presence, setting the stage for future exclusion of blacks from the established leagues.”

Life After Baseball

From the New York Times’s larger Overlooked series, that for Black History Month in February profiled “remarkable black men and women never received obituaries in The New York Times — until now. We’re adding their stories to our project about prominent people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper”.

“After that one season in the minors, his year in the majors, and five more seasons in the minors, Walker left professional baseball in 1890. He fell upon difficult times.

In April of 1891, he was embroiled in an argument with several white men on a street in Syracuse, where he had played minor league ball. He pulled a pocketknife and fatally stabbed one of them. The questions of whether the episode stemmed from racial epithets, and whether Walker was hit in the head with a rock hurled by one of the men before or after he wielded his knife, were in dispute. An all-white jury found him not guilty, believing he acted in self-defense.

Walker pursued business opportunities with his brother Weldy in his post-baseball life. Their ventures including an entertainment center in Ohio that offered motion pictures, plays, opera and vaudeville. He patented inventions that facilitated the loading of film reels by his projectionists at a time when the movie industry was in its infancy.

201_246b3bec8c178c3642cb42553eb7d9f7“Back to Africa” Movement

By the turn of the 20th century, if not earlier, Walker had become dispirited by bigotry. In 1902, Moses and Weldy coedited a short-lived newspaper, The Equator, which focused on racial matters. In 1908, Moses wrote a published tract titled “Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present and Future of the Negro Race in America.” It was a scholarly work but essentially a cry of despair.

When Walker died of pneumonia on May 11, 1924, in Cleveland, he was working as a clerk in a billiard parlor. He outlived his first wife, Arabella, with whom he had three children, and his second wife, Ednah, both having been his classmates at Oberlin. He was about 66. He was buried in an unmarked grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville. Weldy, who died in 1937, was buried alongside him.

William Edward White

White photographed as a member of the 1879 Brown University baseball team

Researchers with the Society for American Baseball Research have found that a Brown University student named William Edward White played in one game at first base for the Providence Grays of the National League in 1879. White was the son of a Georgia slave owner and his mixed-race house servant. But he lived as a white man and was not regarded otherwise when he played in that major league game.

fleetwood walker
Mural depicting Walker at Fifth Third Stadium, home of the Toledo Mud Hens

Moses Fleetwood Walker remains the first major leaguer recognized in his time as an African-American. In recent decades, the Walker brothers have emerged from obscurity. The minor league Toledo Mud Hens have posted a historical marker outside their ballpark chronicling Moses’s career, and the Ohio Legislature passed a measure in 2017 establishing an annual Moses Fleetwood Walker Day on his birthday. Private fund-raising has financed gravestones at the Walker brothers’ resting sites. Moses’s marker, dedicated in 1990, reads in part: “First Black Major League Baseball Player in the USA.”

“When Moses Fleetwood Walker played, people had never seen African-Americans of his caliber before. You’re talking about an African-American baseball player who was at the top of his game, and intellectually sharp as a tack. In these trying times, with so much division right now, so much violence and so much misunderstanding between groups of people, we need this story. It’s a sad story, but so inspirational.”

Craig Brown, adjunct instructor at Kent State and Stark State College and a Society of Baseball Research (SABR) member who led fundraising efforts to purchase a headstone for Weldy Walker’s gravesite (next to his brother Moses’ gravesite).

Moses Fleetwood Walker’s grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio
Weldy Wilberforce Walker’s grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio

Title Image: Ars Longa Art Cards “Pioneer Portraits”

Introducing: Colours of Us


Happy Saturday!  Today we are featuring Colours of Us, a beautiful website run by Svenja.  This website is a catch-all for insightful blog posts, multicultural books, toys, and clothing.  After you finish reading our interview with Svenja, hop on over to her website and explore all that she has to offer!  


TTA: Introduce yourself!

CoU: Hi, I’m Svenja, an adoptive mom and social worker, originally from Germany, living in South Africa. As a mom of two little Black girls, I always search for multicultural children’s books that have a positive message, and that do not support stereotypes. I share my findings on my website, Colours of Us.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

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Svenja’s Adorable Daughters, reading on the couch!


CoU: I am passionate about diversity, social justice and promoting diverse books. I believe all children deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read and the toys they play with. Representation matters!

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

CoU: For this year I want to focus specifically on promoting own voices, i.e. books that are written by authors of the same culture/race/ethnicity they are writing about. In addition to the multicultural books, toys and clothes that I feature on my website, I am also working on adding other multicultural resources for children. My aim is for Colours of Us to be a one-stop source for all multicultural children’s resources.


TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

CoU: By spreading the word about my website (www.coloursofus.com) and sharing my book lists on social media. I am also always happy to collaborate with like-minded people.


The front cover of  I Am Enough


TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?

CoU: Ah, that is always such a difficult question because there are so many multicultural children’s book me and my daughters love! But it would probably have to be I Am Enough by Grace Byers, a beautiful lyrical ode to loving yourself, respecting others, and being kind to one another.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

CoU: I’m looking forward to exciting new book releases and meeting more like-minded people. The network of multicultural children’s book bloggers is so supportive and I have met some amazing people through my work!

Stay connected with

Colours of Us!

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Introducing: Aminata Jalloh of Readers Inspired!

Hello everyone!  We hope you have been enjoying this series as much as we have, it’s been great to connect with others in the children’s literature community.  This week, Readers Inspired!  Aminata’s answers are so thoughtful, and we hope you head over to the links to her website and social media below to check out her work more in-depth!

TTA: Introduce yourself!

View More: http://beyajohnsonphotography.pass.us/aminata-headshotsAJ: My name is Aminata Jalloh and I am children’s book author and education blogger. Through my platform, Readers Inspired, I highlight African heritage picture books, share advice on publishing books for children and tips for supporting reading development and comprehension for young children.

During the day, I work as an Education Adviser for an international development and humanitarian organization. Through this work, I have co-authored teachers’ guides, student workbooks and learning aids to help children around the world learn to read and write better.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AJ: I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, moreover, the role of education to support young children to build positive attitudes about diversity and inclusion. As a first generation, Sierra Leonean-American, the intersections of identities always interested me. However, in elementary school, I did not see books that told stories of intersections of identities.

Over a decade later, when I began my career in education as a classroom teacher not much had changed. This is what inspired me to write The Biggest Little Brother,” the story about a black immigrant family split between two countries. The story follows the experiences of the two siblings—one who was born in the US and one who was born and lived in Sierra Leone— as they navigate their relationship.the biggest little brother

Although, things are improving when it comes to the availability of children’s books about African identities, cultures and experiences, many of the traditionally published African heritage children’s books are not written by #ownvoices authors. Moreover, rely on stereotypical and monolithic representations of African identities and experiences. I have been reaching out to some amazing #ownvoices authors writing African heritage books and sharing insight about their experiences on the Readers Inspired blog.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

AJ: Right now, I am working a series of teaching resources for KG-3rd-grade teachers in the United States who want to teach about contemporary Sub-Sahara Africa.

I am super excited about it and putting my African Studies concentration to use in the creation of learning materials.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

AJ: People can stay support the journey by joining the Readers Inspired family through our monthly newsletter! They can join here.

Also, people can tell friend and family about “The Biggest Little Brother,” and even suggest it as a title for their local library to carry.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?drawn together

AJ: My favorite book for 2018 is Drawn Together by Minh Lê! It is a great story about the intergenerational relationship of a young boy and his grandfather.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AJ: In the coming year, I am looking to collaborating with more creative and publishing my second children’s book!


Stay Connected with Aminata!

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