February is Black History Month and American Heart Month; this list combines the two. We’ve compiled a list of fantastic reads for babies to teens that celebrate the importance of hearts and Black History.
Bathe the Cat By Alice B. McGinty Illustrated by David Roberts Chronicle, 2021, $17.99
In this rollicking paean to family love, an exuberant crew tries to prepare for Grandma’s visit by doing chores that soon get so muddled that Dad is mowing the floor, Bobby rocking the dishes, Sarah bathing the rug and Daddy mopping the fishes. Who’s behind the chaos? The pet cat! Little ones will delight in the mischief, mayhem, rhyming words and ending that satisfies everyone, especially the cat. This playful tale is perfect for a Valentine’s Day read-aloud – or any time your kids want a laugh.
ages 3 – 8
Pigskins to Paintbrushes By Don Tate PublishersWeekly, 2021, $18.99
Bullied as a quiet, artistic child, Ernie Barnes attained respect as a college athlete and later as a professional football player. During this time, though, he continued to take art classes and develop his skills. When he retired from the Denver Broncos after a bad injury, Ernie dived into his painting, becoming an artist for the New York Jets and mounting exhibits of his work. Looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month in February? This picture book biography honors a man with creative talent and determination, a “man successful at being himself.”
What Is Black Lives Matter? By Lakita Wilson Illustrated by Gregory Copeland Penguin, 2021, $4.99
The history and importance of the Black Lives Matter movement are presented with clarity and power in this work of nonfiction by Maryland author Lakita Wilson. Founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi came together as “three friends who wanted change” after the man who murdered Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager, was found not guilty in 2013. As the movement grew, it became an increasingly effective force for social justice, especially in 2020 after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – a force that continues today and into the future.
ages 9 – 12
Birdie’s Billions By Edith Cohn Bloomsbury, 2021, $15.29
Eleven-year-old Birdie and her mom live on a tight budget, so when her mom loses her job, things look dire. When Birdie finds half a million dollars in an abandoned house, their troubles seem to be over – until the bad guys come looking for what they had hidden. This bighearted story explores ethics and family love with lively grace.
“Folk for Little Folk”
By Gordie MacKeeman
Award-winning fiddling wizard Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman will have your whole family up on their feet and dancing with his album, “Folk for Little Folk.” The opening track, “All Around the Kitchen,” is a peerless specimen of old-time music. Other highlights include a rousing version of the Sesame Street classic, “Ladybugs’ Picnic,” an extra-jolly “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and a spirited rendition of the traditional fiddling tune, “Hop High Ladies.” Available on all streaming platforms and at crazylegs.ca.