I”ve decided to participate in two (2) book challenges this year. Here’s what I’ll be up to!
First, there’s the Black Classic Reading Challenge. The challenge here is to read African American books published prior to 1920. This date, this date! That alone made me not want to do this, to not have to struggle with the language and literary styles that existed then! I unshelved my copy of Masterpieces of African American Literature and began to find the essays, poems and fictions from that time. Oh, too many stories revolve around young mulatto women who did or didn’t choose to pass! But then, there are those social criticisms, not only about race but about women’s rights, segregation, employment and other issues, written often by people who experienced the ending of slavery in this country. There are the essays of DuBois and the poems of Wheatley. There’s way too much I should have read and now, three that I will.
This time limitation also forces me to research and learn some history.
I’ve also pulled out Free Within Ourselves: The development of African American children’s literature which relates that the first novel published in the US by an African American woman was Clarence and Corinne; or God’s Way [Google book preview] by Ameilia Etta Hall Johnson in1890. Other Black women publishing books for children prior to the end of the 19th century were Victoria Earle Matthews and Josephine Henderson Heard. An oral tradition which included songs, folktales and rhymes had begun to evolve into magazines and novels for Black children.
I hope to find just one of these early pieces for the challenge. My other two pieces, I think will be:
These selections are based purely upon the description in Masterpieces and I am open to recommendations from readers. I’d love to have you join me on this challenge, officially or otherwise.
Now I’m wondering about classics from around the world. We know the British, Greek, Roman and French I know some of the Japanese, Brasilian, Kenyan, Nigerian and Cameroonian. What about the Egyptian? Indian? Chinese? Mexican? Given the historic impact these cultures have had (will have!) we should know the traditions and values and the writings that transmit them.
I’m also doing the Social Justice challenge. Each month has a theme, with books to read and activities. I like that: don’t just read, do something!! The first challenge is Religious Freedom. I think I’m going to read Many Windows: Six Kids, Five Faiths, One Community byRukhsana Khan, with Uma Krishnaswami and Elisa Carbone; Napoleon & Company, 2008. Thanks to PaperTigers for leading me to this selection.