Popular award-winning children’s author, Walter Dean Myers, has been named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Myers’ conversation with Jenée Desmond-Harris, writer for The Root, is peppered with his assertions about the importance of literacy as the passport to opportunity for black children. He reminds readers “that equality of opportunity is meaningless if black kids aren’t literate.” Like others, he is trying to spread the word “that those who miss out on literacy will be lost.” He notes that as the country comes out of its economic troubles, it is the people with skills who will recover better, and reading skills are the basic skills that they need. Participation in the penal system, for example, is a common consequence of not reading in the African-American community.
His advice to parents is to begin reading something age appropriate to the child at 2 months and to read to the child every day. As the parent reads to the child, s/he should encourage the child to look at the pictures and to participate by engaging the child in conversations that will cause the child to make predictions, recall facts, etc.
He recommends the following books for African-American children by black authors:
- A Million Fish … More or Less by Patricia C. McKissack (author) and Dena Schutzer (illustrator)
- Baby Says by John Steptoe
- Black Cat by Christopher Myers
- Bright Eyes, Brown Skin by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Bernette G. Ford (authors) and George Ford (illustrator)
- Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers
- Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen (author) and Kadir Nelson (illustrator)
- Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim (author) and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
- Let’s Count, Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson (author) and George Ford (illustrator)
- Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee (authors) and Kadir Nelson (illustrator)
- Walter Dean Myers, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature 2012-2013 (survivingtothriving.wordpress.com)
- Another Reason to Encourage Your Son to Read (uzimacommunityblog.wordpress.com)