Every year, parents seek Black History Month events for their children to participate in. Some are near. Some are far. Some just do not seem to fit into busy schedules. Others can get to be quite expensive depending on how many children and guardians are attending. What is a parent eager to raise well-cultured children to do? This year, create a unique spin on Black History Month by hosting your own event. You pick the venue. You pick the time. You pick the entertainment. Everyone wins!
So, what can you do to get started?
The Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is sponsoring the 29th annual National African-American Read-In. To be acknowledged by the organization as a participant, there are three simple requirements. First, gather books, whether purchased or checked out from your local library, written by African-American authors. Second, hold your event anytime during the month of February, and lastly, report the results of your event using the 2019 African-American Read-In Report Card. Submit a participation form by March 15 to be included in this year’s findings. Sign up here.
When choosing literature, remember to gauge your selections according to the maturity of your children by previewing the content of each book. Superheroes Are Everywhere by Senator Kamala Harris is a winning read for kids of all ages, and there are plenty of bedtime books that explore diverse cultures.
To get your mental wheels turning on more possible book ideas, take a look at the following pieces: Hope’s Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons, Zeely by Virginia Hamilton, What’s the Hurry, Fox? by Zora Neale Hurston, The Gift of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois, The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. The titles listed here respectively rank from child friendly to more mature.
Get creative with your read-in. Don’t let this be the average story time. Although you are ultimately participating with a national organization, this is YOUR educational event for your children and their peers. Make it exciting. As indicated by the NCTE, you can make your read-in as simple or as extravagant as you want. The NCTE’s main objective is to make literacy a key part of Black History Month activities, but that does not have to be the only objective.
For example, you can expand your read-in into a slumber party. In addition to reading and discussing a book or two regarding African-American heritage, you and the kids can watch an age-appropriate film. Explore the wonderful world of Wakanda by screening the Oscar-nominated superhero flick, Black Panther, or shimmy to the musical stylings of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in The Wiz, the 1978 Motown-produced remake of The Wizard of Oz.
You might even consider serving traditional soul food dishes – candied yams, collard greens, hot water cornbread, etc. – to your young guests. You can find recipes at Soul Food Cookbook.
Enjoy! Use this time not only to learn about the history of our nation but also to connect with your children and their friends on an intellectual level. There is nothing wrong with bowling or going ice skating with the family, but this is a chance for you to reinforce that learning can be just as fulfilling.
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Ayvaunn Penn is a senior editor for Your Black World news and the founder of Your Black Poets. She is an award-winning writer and the author of Ephemeral Moments.
This article was first published in February 2013; it was updated to reflect 2019 books, films, etc. ©ISTOCK