Kid Lit and Ferguson, MO

Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO provided a powerful and emotional reminder on a difficult journey toward equality in this country. Knowing what we can do and how we can respond effectively can feel like a challenge beyond our ability. For those of us who serve our youth, this can feel especially potent because we are in touch with the hearts of children and how our youth are affected by the world we live in.

With our first campaign we begin with our Black youth.  We ask illustrators, authors, educators, activists, and other members of the Kid Lit community to consider the role of children’s literature in reflecting and/or responding to events like those in Ferguson and their larger implications in relation to Black youth.

Contributors were encouraged to be creative, pose questions, write a poem, share a photograph, make art, engage in the conversation in whatever way felt right. Below are the art, words and videos from some of the Kid Lit community…

Kid Lit Equality, Lee Mullins with Aaron James Farrell words by Lee Mullins – Author and Educator
art by Aaron James Farrell – Writer and Illustrator, Carbondale IL
(Download a Coloring Page of the above art to color and write your own words!)

Tiffany Rachann – Author and Family Literacy platform developer, Pearland, TX

(tanka is a Japanese five-line poetic form)

FERGUSON TANKAS - Francisco Alarcon

FERGUSON TANKAS - Francisco Alarcon
Francisco Alarcón – Author and Educator, Davis, CA
(Download a Coloring Page of art from the top image and create your own poem and art; learn more about the Japanese tanka poetic form)

quotesKid Lit Equality would take into consideration the role that colonialism has played in stripping away our birthright to preserve our myths, folktales, and legends in the form of books. Why are there so few magical stories featuring children of color by writers of color? Because it’s been squeezed out of us. Our ancestors were persecuted if they tried to hold on to these stories and make their mythological heroes their gods. Leaving us writers of color with only the dusty, cobwebbed ghosts of our cultures. We try to piece together the muffled whispers of our oral tradition, to rescue them from obscurity, and hope that they can live on for our children’s children within the pages of books.

Black youth matter simply because they are born and they are human. Someone loves them enough, even if it is a mustard seed kind of love, or a thick molasses kind of love. And they deserve the dignity to grow, and evolve, and rise above any and all obstacles. The stories are their birthright. It is their cultural map, their moral compass, their spiritual lens out of which they can see their place and purpose in this world.

And we writers, who are the born storytellers because the memories are etched in our bones, and the whispers of our ancestors ring in our ears, deserve the wherewithal to learn and practice the craft, to tell our stories without fear of continued rejection and censorship.

Ibi Zoboi, Author, Brooklyn, NY


Zetta Elliott – Author and Educator, Brooklyn, NY

Maya Gonzalez – Artist, Author, and Educator, San Francisco, CA
(Download Coloring Pages of images from this video to share, color, paint, mark, transform, reinvent, and inspire you to create your own image and tell your own story!)

**feel free to join in the conversation by commenting below.

Further Reading

Teaching for Change: Teaching About Ferguson

Philip Nel’s Blog: Ferguson: Response and Resources

About Education: The Ferguson Syllabus

The Root: Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching About Ferguson

Huff Post: 7 Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now To Better Understand What’s Going On In Ferguson

Rethinking Schools: Teach About Mike Brown. But Don’t Stop There

ColorLines: Following Ferguson: Teaching the Crisis in the Classroom

Yes Magazine: How the #FergusonSyllabus Can Help Teachers Talk About Race and Rights on the First Day of School

The Atlantic: How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson 

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3 thoughts on “Kid Lit and Ferguson, MO


    equality means
    accepting and celebrating
    all the colors
    of the human rainbow –
    every kid is precious

    © Francisco X. Alarcón


    igualdad significa
    aceptar y celebrar
    todos los colores
    del arco iris humano –
    cada niño/a es precioso/a

    © Francisco X. Alarcón

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