New Picture Books about Black Lives--Segregation and Immigration


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am sharing two new picture books that share different looks at Black lives and others. It seems even more important to me to share books about Black lives after the events last week at the Capitol building. Although these books aren't related I find it important to share them and help my readers have resources to teach kids about diversity both in the past and present. The first book is Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation by Michael S. Brandy and Eric Stein and illustrated by James E. Ransome. 

In this book we meet a young Black boy, Michael, who watches the train go by with his grandfather at his grandfather's yard. He dreamed of taking it. One day his dream came true when his grandmother took him on it to go North to visit family. He quickly sees the differences between how Black and white people are treated. It is a segregated train. He sees a white boy around his age in the next car but is not allowed to go see him. Then they cross into Atlanta and the segregation signs go down. The boys explore the train together and have a great time until they leave the area and are back into segregation. Michael questions why he is allowed to go where he wants some places and not others. 

This book is the third in a trilogy of books about growing up Black during the Jim Crow laws. I have shared both of the other two books in the past. They are written for grades one and four. I love the illustrations in this book as well as the story. It is touches on friendship that crosses the races as well as the innocence of children. 

Our second book is a story of immigration to America. It is Watch Me by Doyin Richards and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. It is recommended for ages 3 to 5 and was released yesterday. 

Joe was living in Sierra Leone in Africa but he dreams of going to America. People tell him that if he goes to America people will tease him for his skin and accent. He goes anyway. In America people don't think he will succeed in college but he works hard and becomes a doctor. This is a story of will power and believing in oneself. It is also a story of caring for others and looking around your own life for others. 

This book has humor as well as inspiration. I love how it asks the reader to look around him/herself and see if there are people similar to Joe. It asks readers to notice others and to welcome them. It shares that our country is big enough for all of us. It has such a beautiful message for kids who are immigrants or who know immigrants. 

Both of these books help teach kids about the similarities and differences between races and open discussions about race as well as how we treat others. It is a sweet book that will help teachers and parents talk with younger kids about some difficult subjects for many.