Harlem Renaissance Books

I have been fascinated with the Harlem Renaissance since reading poetry by Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen as a girl. My love for jazz vocalists Billie Holiday (my muse) and Lena Horne (my soror) amped my nostalgia. In the late 1970s, I was introduced to chicken and waffles at Wells Supper Club in Harlem. I was in heaven.

I have written four children’s books about the Harlem Renaissance. Travel with me back in time.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, illustrated by Eric Velasquez: Middle grade, verse biography of Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile Arturo Schomburg (1874-1938), whose vast collection of books, art, and artifacts formed the basis of what became New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center. Winner of the WNDB Walter Award and the IRA Social Justice Award. Resources: Schomburg word search activity sheet, Schomburg Center; Schomburg photograph

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon: A picture book verse biography of entertainer and civil rights activist. Arnold Adoff Early Poetry Award winner. Resources

Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood, illustrated by C. Gregory Christie: Rhyming text tours the neighborhood that Harlem’s elite–Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. DuBois, Duke Ellington, and others–once called home. Arnold Adoff Early Poetry Honor. Resources: Video; Duke Ellington coloring sheet; Ellington’s song, “A Train,” refers to a New York stop in Harlem.

Becoming Billie Holiday, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. A young adult verse novel chronicling Billie Holiday’s troubled childhood in Baltimore, her stardom in Harlem, and her rise to jazz royalty. Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Book page; Reading & Discussion Guide; Strange Fruit lesson plan




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