Monday, February 3, 2014

February is African American History Month

February is African American History Month in the United States, a celebration that first began as a special week in 1925 and was later expanded to an entire month of recognition of African American contributions in 1976. In the words of President Gerald R. Ford, African American History Month is a time for Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since 1976, each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations in February. Each year, a theme is chosen for this celebration. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History chooses the annual theme and the 2014 national theme is "Civil Rights in America." 

There is truly an abundance of great educational resources on the web for children to learn about African American History this month. 

Smithsonian Education Black History - A great teaching resource including a virtual history tour and various lessons focusing on important African American individuals throughout American history, such as Sojourner Truth and Ella Fitzgerald.

African American History Month - A government website that provides historical images, online exhibits and collections and teacher resources. Brought to you by various government institutions including The Library of Congress and The National Endowment for the Humanities.

Scholastic Culture and Change: Black History in America - Children can listen to jazz music, explore the Underground Railroad and meet famous African Americans with Scholastic's interactive timeline. 

Scholastic Cyberhunt: African Americans Who Changed Our Nation -  Click on the provided links to visit websites that will help you find the answers to the crossword puzzle while teaching you about important African Americans.

National Geographic Education: The Underground Railroad -  Experience the journey to freedom that many slaves braved in this interactive video that allows children to imagine themselves making important decisions as a slave in 1850s Maryland. 

PBS Kids African American World -  This great site PBS site, in association with National Public Radio (NPR), allows children to play games, make e-cards and read about African American children's interests in their "Kid Talk" section.

Multnomah County Public Library Homework Center: African American - You can find an extensive list of links and resources on the library's homework center site, including specific topics in African American history, such as civil rights and African colonization. 

Kids.gov History Resources - Search this government website just for kids for articles, games and videos about American history and important time periods and events, such as the Civil Rights Movement. 

Arty Factory African Masks- Get creative with your African American history! Learn about African masks on this fun site and then design your own mask.  

Common Sense Media: African American Experience Movies - Check out this list of great movies that span a variety of ages and topics addressing the African American experience for another way to learn this month. 

Of course, there are plenty of amazing books available for children and teens to read and learn about African American history. 

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards - These awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. 

2014 Coretta Scott King Award Winner


Reading Rockers: Favorite Books for Black History Month -  A list of themed books that address African American history as well as universal children's experiences. Suggested age levels provided. 

PBS : Books that Bring the Black Experience to Life - A list for parents to refer to which highlights stellar books for children of all ages. These titles help readers to appreciate black history and focus on both historical accounts of African American life as well as contemporary perspectives. 

A highlighted book for toddlers from the PBS booklist.

Take some time this month to stop into the library and pick up a book to share with your family about African American history. We have many books that will be on display in the Children's Department all month just waiting for you to take home! Be sure to visit some of the above websites and perhaps have a family movie night watching one of the great suggestions from Common Sense Media. You have an entire month ahead of you to share, learn and appreciate the contributions that African Americans have made to this country!