Timely Titles

January 01, 1999 2 min read

Here are a handful of new nonfiction and fiction books that teachers might want to use in February during Black History Month.

SEPARATE BUT NOT EQUAL: The Dream and the Struggle, by Jim Haskins. (Scholastic Press, $15.95; young adult.) Haskins, a veteran chronicler of black history, examines the African American struggle for the right to a good education, from the early days of slavery through Brown vs. Board of Education to the present.

YOUNG, BLACK, AND DETERMINED: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry, by Patricia McKissack and Frederick McKissack. (Holiday House, $18.95; young adult.) At age 28, Hansberry was already an award-winning playwright; A Raisin in the Sun topped works by Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill for national honors in 1959. But Hansberry was also a civil rights activist and essayist who traveled in the same circles as Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. This biography probes not only her short life--she died at 34--but also an important period of African American history.

WOMEN OF HOPE: African Americans Who Made a Difference, by Joyce Hansen. (Scholastic Press, $16.95; grades 5 and up.) Hansen, a former New York City schoolteacher, celebrates the lives of 12 women who have shown strength, courage, and a commitment to justice and a better world. The one-page profiles and accompanying photos feature the famous--poet Maya Angelou, author Toni Morrison, and child advocate Marian Wright Edelman--as well as women who are not well known, such as Alexa Canady, the first black woman neurosurgeon.

NO MORE STRANGERS NOW: Young Voices From a New South Africa, interviews by Tim McKee, with photographs by Anne Blackshaw and a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (DK Ink, $19.95; young adult.) Twelve South African teenagers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds speak candidly about their lives under apartheid and their dreams of building a more democratic, multiracial society. The American interviewer taught in South African high schools during the final years of apartheid, an experience that inspired the book.

JAZMIN’S NOTEBOOK, by Nikki Grimes. (Dial Books, $15.99; young adult.) Soaking up street life from the stoop of her Harlem tenement house in the 1960s, Jazmin scribbles poems and thoughts in her diary. Although she lives amid poverty with her oldest sister, her writing is filled with hope for a better tomorrow.

BLACK BOOKS GALORE! Guide to Great African American Children’s Books, by Donna Rand, Toni Trent Parker, and Sheila Foster, with a foreword by James Comer. (John Wiley and Sons, $15.95; all ages.) This annotated bibliography offers brief summaries of a wide range of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Most of the books are by African American writers and chronicle the black experience. An extensive index and list of book awards and winning titles help make this a useful guide.

--Barbara Hiron