I’ve been told that I write boy books–if there is such a thing. Sure, I’ve written about women like Billie Holiday, Leontyne Price and Fannie Lou Hamer and had girls as fictional narrators. But many of my biographies focus on boys who beat the odds and grew into great men. Achievers whom I wish my son had learned of as a boy. As a young black prince.
My son was an avid reader, but preferred fantasy and sci-fi to nonfiction–unless the subject was magic or sharks or drawing. When he was a tween, I’d borrow a stack of library books for him in hopes that he’d read one or two. I also bought him chapter books like Bud, Not Buddy; Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs; and Drew and the Bub Daddy Showdown.
But I wish I had served up more nonfiction about African American history, which was too often neglected or whitewashed in school. In my own defense, there were not many juvenile biographies then of African American men beyond Martin Luther King, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Michael Jordan. So, I write picture books that I think would have inspired and empowered my son. For today’s young black princes.
Books for Young Black Princes
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America
I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer
Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive
Sink or Swim: African American Lifesavers of the Outer Banks
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing’s First African American Champion
A Negro League Scrapbook
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins
Obama: Only in America
And for babies and toddlers:
My Favorite Toy