Introducing the Brown Bookshelf

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, of the approximately 5000 trade children’s books published in 2006:

  • 153 books had significant African or African American content
  • 87 books were by black book creators, either authors and/or illustrators
  • If you divide 87 into 5000, you get a little more than 1 percent. You actually get 1.74 percent. That number is sad and it’s mind blowing.

    That number says to me that we are missing from the bookshelves in the bookstores and the libraries. It says that our stories aren’t being told. Correction, they are being told just not published in the same magnitude as the majority.

    Right now, please name for me five African American children’s authors. This includes picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and non-fiction. In case you are still grasping for names, let me help you out. There’s Walter Dean Myers, Sharon Draper, Sharon Flake, Rita Williams Garcia, Jacqueline Woodson, and Christopher Paul Curtis just to name six.

    But there’s more than just those six. And there are more to come. So many more.

    And that’s where The Brown Bookshelf comes in.

    The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. On February 1, 2008, the group will launch the 28 Days Later Campaign which is a month-long showcase of the best in picture books, middle grade and young adult novels written by African American authors. Each day during Black History Month, a different book and author will be featured at The Brown Bookshelf.  The 28 Days Later Campaign will culminate with a day of giveaways and announcements of future programs on February 29th. The Brown Bookshelf is partnering with the African American Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (AACBWI) and the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to ensure the 28 Days Later Campaign reaches the intended audience of educators and librarians.

    The 28 Days Later authors will be selected through a multi-tier selection process. Prior to opening submissions, the review and research team will choose several veteran authors and two self-published authors. Public submissions will be accepted from November 1- December 1st at the Brown Bookshelf blog, email and 28 Days Later web page. Authors may self-submit themselves for consideration. Author names will also be solicited from publishers, librarians, teachers and other children’s literature industry professionals.

    To submit a name:
    – Send an email to email@thebrownbookshelf.com indicating the author and a list of their works
    – Post submissions to The Brown Bookshelf blog in the comment section of blog posts soliciting names
    – Submit names at http://thebrownbookshelf.com/28-days-later/

    Beyond the  28 Days Later Campaign, The Brown Bookshelf will continue to keep you informed about the African American children’s literature community with book reviews, announcements about book fairs, events and conferences, as well as industry tidbits.

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