February is African American History Month, and these books from award winning authors and illustrators promote cultural appreciation and understanding.

“Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom”, by Shane W. Evans, Roaring Books Press, 2011, Ages 7 and up.

*Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for 2012

This simplistic, yet powerful description of the Underground Railroad is portrayed through bold illustrations contrasting dark and light, accompanied by only a handful of words. The author dedicates the book to Pastor Alice, who runs the True Light Resources Center in his home community, to which he donates proceeds from the book. Evans encourages readers to look in their own neighborhood for ways the pursuit of freedom still exists.

“We March”, by Shane W. Evans, Roaring Book Press, 2012, Ages 7 and up.

Author/illustrator Shane Evans’ award winning minimalistic style continues as the story We March chronicles one family’s experience at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, on August 28, 1963. Strong, clear illustrations project a sense of community and togetherness which permeated the day’s events.

“A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis”, by Matt De La Pena, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Dial Books, 2011, Ages 7 and up.

African American boxer, Joe Louis, unites Black and white Americans against Hitler’s Nazis during his bout with German Max Schmeling in 1938. Stunning illustrations, created with oil paints on wood, capture the emotions of this era and this event.

“Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans”, by Kadir Nelson, Harper Collins, 2011, Ages 10 and up.

*Coretta Scott King Author Award for 2012

The Coretta Scott King Award, in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr., is given to African American authors and illustrators of children’s literature who promotes understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples through their book. “Heart and Soul” epitomizes this value by serving as a visual and written history of African Americans from the early years of the United States up to present day. The story is told as a narrative with historical details intertwined. With each turn of the page, stunning oil paintings give the reader a glimpse into the challenges and successes African Americans have experienced over time.

Children’s books bring the past to life in a simplistic way through detailed illustrations and concise words, to be enjoyed by both children and adults.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

Image:  https://pixabay.com/p-1197161/?no_redirect