Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

Since the 1926 origin of what has become Black History Month, many books on the subject have been published for children and young adults. But few give the big picture of the African-American struggle for freedom as well as Linda Barrett Osborne's Traveling the Freedom Road (Abrams, $24.95, 128 pages, ages 9 to 13).

Published in association with the Library of Congress, the book covers slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction by discussing events and issues and honing in on individual stories such as Emily and Mary Edmonson, sisters who along with four brothers were born into slavery in Washington, D.C. The sisters attempted to escape their bondage and traveled to New Orleans, New York and eventually Oberlin, Ohio, where they became abolitionists. They epitomize the danger, confusion and family trauma so many 19th-century black Americans faced.

For her narrative, Osborne drew information from diaries, slave narratives, newspapers, magazines and interviews with former slaves. Many prints, drawings, daguerreotypes and photographs from the Library of Congress are included; an illustration is offered on every page.

After reading Traveling the Freedom Road, readers can sample the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and '60s in Freedom Song (Chicago Review, $18.95, 146 pages, age 10 and older), in which Mary C. Turck examines how music expressed and reinforced the movement. The accompanying CD features the Chicago Children's Choir performing songs mentioned in the book.

Women are the subject of Ntozake Shange and Kadir Nelson's Coretta Scott (HarperCollins, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 5 to 9), a picture book about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow that's more beautiful than informative; and Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney's Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation (Greenwillow, $16.99, 40 pages, ages 6 to 10), a look at the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott with a blues-infused text
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For younger readers are Tonya Cherie Hegamin's Most Loved in All the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17, 40 pages, ages 5 to 9), a touching story of a slave mother who sends her young daughter on the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North, illustrated by cloth artist Cozbi A. Cabrera; and Marjory Heath Wentworth's Shackles (Legacy, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 4 to 8), in which three modern-day brothers dig up a pair of slave shackles in their yard on Sullivan's Island, S.C., and learn more about American history from an elderly neighbor.