As a child, I was able to read well before entering the school system. Understandable, considering the hours spent sitting in the laps of my mother, father, aunt, and sister feeling safe, secure, and entertained.
When the newborn son of an African American friend needed books I started to collect those familiar from that time. With acquired, raised consciousness, I realized that nowhere in any of those books were images, or the stories of, anyone other than lily-white children and their lily-white society.
I resolved that issue by hunting online specifically for inclusive books. It worked, but I would like to have been able to physically browse. Saturday last, I stumbled across a store about which I had read but never visited—the very inviting and colourful playground of Dawn Harris-Martine (pictured), retired teacher, now famous—named Grandma’s Place, on 120th Street in Harlem just east of Lenox Avenue.
Socially conscious and wonderful are her offerings. Unexpected titles like ‘M is for Melanin’ (“M is for Melanin shining in every inch of your skin. Every shade, every hue. All beautiful and unique“).
‘Tar Beach’ (“Children will delight in the universal dream of flying over one’s world. A practical and stunningly beautiful book“).
Another book quickly caught my eye, “Alicia Alonso Dances On” about the great Cuban ballerina with whom I worked years ago. Books like this one inspire youngsters as was Misty Copeland, the first Black principal dancer in the history of American Ballet Theater