Aug 292019
Getting To Know You – KidLit version

“Jambo” means “Hello”. Part of Jambo Books’ mission is to try to spark conversations that will help people make fresh connections with each other and think creatively about how we can live together in equity, prosperity and peace.

This weekend, Jambo Books will have a booth at the Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, GA. We created Jambo Means Hello stickers with fill-in-the-blank conversation starters for folks to wear and discuss. The statements on the stickers and our answers are below. How would you fill in the blanks? Please share in the comments!

My favorite children’s book character is ______________________ (Ut from Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai and Ruby from Ruby’s Sleepover by Kathryn White)

I would love to read a children’s book about _________________ (a mulitcultural group of kids who travel to the Arctic and witness the effects of global warming first-hand. They then come up with a solution to save the world!)

My favorite children’s book makes me feel _______________ (warm and fuzzy)

I was ____  years old when I first read a fiction book that starred someone who looked like me.

This one has really given me and my Black female friends pause. We just look at each other blink. We don’t know. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston? That’s high school level book. Lucille Clifton, Don Freeman, Ezra Jack Keats, and Vera B. Williams were holding it down in the 70s, but if you didn’t get their books, you were much less likely to see a little black girl in children’s books. 

I decided on a poem. It’s called Monument in Black by Vanessa Howard. I first read it in the poetry anthology SoulScript by June Jordan.  The book is not illustrated but the poems create vivid mental illustrations. I was about 10 years when I first read it. The poem begins, 

“Put my black father on the penny
put his smile at me on the silver dime
put my mother on the dollar
for they’ve suffered for more than
three eternities of time
and all money couldn’t repay”

From Monument in Black by Vanessa Howard

Children’s literature has come a long way in just a few decades. We’re not where we ought to be in terms of representation, but thank goodness we’re not where we were.

If you are in the neighborhood, visit Jambo Books at our booth in the Kids’ Zone on Saturday and Sunday in front of the Decatur library on Sycamore Street. We’ll have the stickers, books and JambArt boxes at our booth. Come say JAMBO!

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