Books

7 Canadian books for younger readers to check out during Black History Month 2020

Check out these seven children's and young reader books created by black Canadian authors.

Check out these seven books for younger readers created by black Canadian authors for Black History Month ⁠— and beyond!

My Hair is Beautiful by Shauntay Grant 

My Hair is Beautiful is a children's book by Shauntay Grant. (Nimbus Publishing, shauntaygrant.com)

Shauntay Grant's latest children's book is a celebration of natural hair. My Hair is Beautiful is a board book that encourages self-love and self-expression.

My Hair is Beautiful is for readers aged 0-3.

Grant is a Canadian writer and performance artist based in Halifax. Her children's books include Up Home, which won the 2009 Best Atlantic Published Book Prize, and Africvillewhich was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature – illustrated books.

I Promise by Catherine Hernandez, illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware

I Promise is a picture book by Catherine Hernandez (right) and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Dahlia Katz)

I Promise is a portrayal of all the joys and challenges of parenting and a celebration of the many different forms that loving families come in.

 I Promise is for readers aged 3-8.

Catherine Hernandez is a playwright, performer and the author of the novel Scarborough.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, activist and scholar whose work has appeared in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Globe and Mail and in Nuit Blanche. Ware is also an editor for nonfiction book Until We Are Freewhich reflects on the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada. 

It can be a tricky question for any parent to tackle in an age-appropriate way, "where did I come from?" But it poses a unique challenge for queer parents. Scarborough author Catherine Hernandez has written a book with that in mind, celebrating the diverse array of families out there. It's called 'I Promise.' 6:36

A Likkle Miss Lou by Nadia L. Hohn, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Nadia Hohn's new book is about how a young Louise Bennett found her voice and embraced patois, despite being told to “speak properly” and only use standard English by her teachers in Jamaica. (Submitted by Nadia L. Hohn/Owlkids Books)

A Likkle Miss Lou is a picture book about Louise "Miss Lou" Bennett Coverley, a Jamaican poet known for bringing international attention to Jamaican patois.

A Likkle Miss Lou is for readers aged 4-8.

Nadia L. Hohn is a children's book author from Toronto. Her other titles include Malaika's Costume and Malaika's Winter Carnival.

Eugenie Fernandes is an artist and children's book illustrator based in Ontario. 

Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett recorded music, hosted radio and television programs, published books and taught folklore. She spent the last 20 years of her life in Canada, where she helped inspire generations of Caribbean-Canadians. Michael’s guest is Nadia L. Hohn (PRON. Hahn) -- a teacher, writer and author of a new children’s book, A Likkle Miss Lou, to mark the 100th anniversary of Miss Lou’s birth. 26:46

Boonoonoonous Hair! by Olive Senior, illustrated by Laura James

Boonoonoonous Hair! is a picture book by Olive Senior and Laura James. (Caroline Forbes, Neville Gordon, Tradewind Books)

In this charming picture book for young readers, a girl learns to embrace her wild, hard-to-manage curly hair. Olive Senior is an award-winning writer. Her books include the short story collection The Pain Tree and the picture book Anna Carries Water, which is also illustrated by New York artist Laura James.

Boonoonoonous Hair! is for readers aged 5-9.

Senior is the author of 18 books, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction and children's literature. Her collection Over the Roofs of the World was shortlisted for the 2005 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

Olive Senior was born in Jamaica in 1941, the seventh of 10 children. She went on to become one of Canada’s most acclaimed writers. Hear excerpts from her 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture, readings from her work and a conversation with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk. *Originally broadcast on October 9, 2019. 53:59

The Dragon Thief by Zetta Elliott

The Dragon Thief is a middle grade book by Zetta Elliott. (Bianca Cordova, Random House Books for Young Readers)

The Dragon Thief is the the second instalment of the middle-grade series Dragons in a Bag. It follows the fantasy adventures of young Jaxon and his life with dragons. When he's put in charge of taking care of baby dragons, he discovers that one is missing. This event sets Jaxon off on an adventure to find his best friend's sister, Kavita, who just might be the dragon thief.

The Dragon Thief is for readers aged 8-12.

Zetta Elliott was born in Ajax, Ont., and has lived in the United States for the past 20 years. She is a poet, teacher and writer for children and young adults. 

Zetta Elliott on what inspired her new kids book. 3:50

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Madman of Piney Woods is a middle grade novel by Christopher Paul Curtis. (Arden Wray, Scholastic Canada)

Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the characters of Benji and Red, first introduced in his 2008 book Elijah of Buxton. While Benji and Red aren't exactly close friends, the pair are connected by fate. When a strange force is seen in the forest, the boys are unwittingly set on the trail of the enigmatic and elusive Madman of Piney Woods. Does he exist or not? In this tale of adventure, the mismatched duo are set on a path to find out once and for all. 

The Madman of Piney Woods is for readers aged 8 to 12.

Curtis is an American-Canadian author known for writing historical fiction for young readers. His other books include The Journey of Little Charlie, which was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text. Curtis currently lives in Windsor, Ont.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a YA book by Ben Philippe. (benphilippe.com, HarperCollins)

In the YA novel The Field Guide to the North American TeenagerNorris Kaplan is a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager who knows he's in for a major culture shock when his family moves to 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.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is for readers aged 13 and up.

Ben Philippe, who now lives in New York, has contributed to publications like Vanity Fair and the Guardian. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is his first book, which in 2020 won the William C. Morris Award.

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