6 Canadian books for younger readers to check out during Black History Month
Check out these six children's and young reader books created by black Canadian authors for Black History Month.
The Journey of Little Charlie follows a 12-year-old boy who agrees to track down thieves in order to settle his debts with a cruel man named Cap'n Buck. But when Charlie discovers the thieves he's hunting are people who escaped from slavery, his conscience intervenes. The middle-grade novel was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — text. (ages 9-12)
Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell tell the story of Africville through the eyes of a young girl visiting for the annual Africville Reunion/Festival. She brings her family's stories to life by imagining brightly painted houses on the hillside and visiting the sundial in the park where her great-grandmother's name is carved. Africville was home to a vibrant black community in Halifax, N.S., for more than 150 years, but never received basic city services and was demolished in the 1960s. Africville was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books. (ages 4-7)
Toronto-based author Nadia L. Hohn examines the life of American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman in this biography geared toward younger readers. The illustrated book looks at the dramatic real-life exploits of the brave woman and former slave, who enlisted black men to be soldiers in the U.S. Civil War. She also helped slaves flee from America to Canada between 1850 to 1860 via a journey known today as the Underground Railroad. (ages 4-8)
Kagiso Lesego Molope's YA novel follows a 13-year-old narrator named Naledi who witnesses her beloved older brother committing a terrible act of violence. Naledi is lost in the aftermath, unsure how to reconcile who she thought her brother was with what he has done. Set in the 1990s, This Book Betrays My Brother received the 2013 Percy FitzPatrick Prize for Youth Literature in South Africa where it was first published. (ages 14 and up)
Norris Kaplan, a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager, knows he's in for a major culture shock when his family moves to Austin, Texas. He keeps track of his fellow high schoolers by placing them in categories: Cheerleaders, Jocks, Loners and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. When people from the categories try and befriend him, Norris learns a lesson about his snarky attitude. Haitian-born Philippe, who now lives in New York was raised in Montreal. (ages 13 and up)
In this third instalment of Sarah Raughley's YA Effigies series, which includes Fate of Flames and Siege of Shadows, Raughley drops readers into a world where four young women are imbued with the powers of the four elements — fire, water, air and earth — and tasked with protecting the world from the evil Phantoms. After a man with the power to control the Phantoms frames the Effigies for an attack in Oslo, they have to find a way to clear their names while being hunted by the governments of the world. (ages 14 and up)