African American Children’s Literature

Researching Its Development, Exploring Its Voices

Authored by: Rudine Sims Bishop

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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The artistry and literary legacy created by African American authors, illustrators, and editors is recognized, today, as a treasure for children around the world. Renowned scholar and educator, Rudine Sims Bishop, asks what processes and ideals brought this literature into production. Bishop takes readers inside the creative and scholarly process she followed to trace the lines of convergence among those adults who persisted, across two centuries, in making a literature “in their own words.” This history leads to a deeper understanding of Black adults’ visions for children’s experiences of history, family, community, and justice that extend from pre-Civil War oral stories to present day picturebooks and novels. In her Point of Departure essay, Jacqueline Woodson describes what those books have meant to her as a writer who discovered that her stories could be told, read, and shared, from one generation to the next, as part of the journey that enables so many authors, artists, and readers not only to walk tall—but to fly.

When I wrote those words … I was just reminiscing about the necessity for literature, the necessity for African Americans to make their own art in their own words.

(Morrison, 2008, pp. B1, B6)

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