OK, get your library card or favorite online shopping site ready. Here’s KT Horning’s list.
M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton. Aladdin, 2006. Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah’s Mountain. Stretched before him are rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home. M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thinks he sees it—two strangers are making their way toward Sarah’s Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.’s mother famous. And the other has the kind of freedom that M.C. has never even considered.
The Hundred-Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis and illustrated by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon. Puffin Books, 1975. Michael loves his great-great-aunt Dew, even if she can’t always remember his name. He especially loves to spend time with her and her beloved hundred penny box, listening to stories about each of the hundred years of her life. Michael’s mother wants to throw out the battered old box that holds the pennies, but Michael understands that the box itself is as important to Aunt Dew as the memories it contains. Winner of a Newbery Honor, this beautiful story will be available in a collector’s edition featuring heavy interior stock embossing and silver ink on the cover, and a thread-sewn binding for added durability. A timeless story of the relationship between a boy and his elderly relative, this new edition is one that families young and old will treasure for years to come.
Baby Says by John Steptoe. Harper, 1988. Spare text and lively illustrations tell the story of two brothers at opposite ends of a room. The older brother plays with blocks on the floor, while a curious baby boy watches intently from his crib. After repeatedly trying to get his big brother’s attention, Baby finally gets what he wants—but not before a few silly, giggle-inducing incidents occur!
Honey, I Love and other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Diane Dillon and Leo Dillon. Harper Collins, 1978. Each of these sixteen “love poems” is spoken straight from the perspective of a child. Riding on a train, listening to music, playing with a friend…each poem elicits a new appreciation of the rich content of everyday life. The poems are accompanied by both portrait and panorama drawings that deepen the insights contained in the words.
The Road to Memphis by Mildred Taylor. Puffin, 1992. The third book in the powerfully written Logan family saga finds the 17-year-old Cassie Logan dreaming of college and law school. But no amount of schooling can prepare her for the violent explosion that takes place when her friend Moe lashes out at his white tormenters–an action unheard of in Mississippi. Moe will be in even greater danger if he stays in town, so it is up to Cassie, her brother, and their friends to accompany Moe on the road to Memphis–and to safety.
An Enchanted Hair Tale by Alexis DeVeaux. Sudan suffers from the general ridicule of his strange-looking hair, until he comes to accept and enjoy its enchantment. HarperCollins, 1987.
I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson. Speak, 1994. Marie, the only black girl in the eighth grade willing to befriend her white classmate Lena, discovers that Lena’s father is doing horrible things to her in private.
Young Landlords by Walter Dean Myers. Puffin, 1979. If you were looking for a real ghetto dump, you couldn’t beat The Stratford Arms. There was Askia Ben Kenobi throwing karate chops upstairs, Petey Darden making booze downstairs, and Mrs. Brown grieving for Jack Johnson, who’d died for the third time in a month—and not a rent payer in the bunch. Still, when Paul Williams and the Action Group got the Arms for one dollar, they thought they had it made. But when their friend Chris was arrested for stealing stereos and Dean’s dog started biting fire hydrants and Gloria started kissing, being a landlord turned out to be a lot more work than being a kid.
Now Is Your Time! : The African American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers. Amistad, 1991. Since they were first brought as captives to Virginia, the people who would become African Americans have struggled for freedom. Thousands fought for the rights of all Americans during the Revolutionary War, and for their own rights during the Civil War. On the battlefield, through education, and through their creative genius, they have worked toward one goal: that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be denied no one.
Fired by the legacy of men and women like Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, Ida B. Wells, and George Latimer, the struggle continues today. Here is African-American history, told through the stories of the people whose experiences have shaped and continue to shape the America in which we live.
One Crazy Summer (The Gaither Sisters #1) by Rita Williams-Garcia. Quill Tree Books, 2010. In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum, 2019. The story of the kind people who supported him.
The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark.
And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again.
Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.
I’ve edited most of the bios sent to me, but KT didn’t send one. She’s a librarian who is works because she love books as much as young readers. KT is a librarian’s librarian, the person we all go to when we need to know. I’m so honored that she was able to send a list for this series! Here’s her bio.
Kathleen T. Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For nine years she was also a children’s librarian at Madison Public Library. She is the author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books (revised edition: HarperCollins, 2010). With Ginny Moore Kruse, she coauthored Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, 1980–1990, and with Ginny Moore Kruse and Megan Schliesman, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, 1991–1996. Kathleen is a past-president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) of the American Library Association (ALA), and a past president of the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY). She currently serves on the ALA/ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee. She has chaired the Américas Award Committee, under the auspices of the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; ALA/ALSC’s 1997 Mildred Batchelder Award Committee; and ALA/ALSC’s 1995 John Newbery Committee; and four Charlotte Zolotow Award Committees (administered by the CCBC). She also chaired USBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Award Committee, which selected U.S. nominees for the international award in 1992. She has served as a member of many book award and evaluation committees, including the ALA Rainbow List, the NCTE Lee Bennett Hopkins Awards, the ALA/EMIERT Coretta Scott King Award, ALA Notable Children’s Books, and the 1990 Newbery Committee. She most recently served on the 2015 ALA/ALSC Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee and chaired the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Award Committee. She also is the ALA/ALSC Priority Group Consultant for Awards. Kathleen received the Scholastic Library Publishing Award from the American Library Association in 2009 for her outstanding leadership in the field of librarianship and children’s and young adult literature. She frequently lectures to librarians on issues in evaluating literature for children and young adults, and in 2010 delivered the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture for ALA/ALSC. She has a B.A. in Linguistics and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies, both from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Follow KT on Twitter