The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 62

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low levels of proficiency in third grade. Our group is committed to

1. Promoting the importance of early literacy (PK-3),

2. Creating opportunities to feature children’s literature published by Black authors, and

3. Bridging early literacy gaps between home, school, and the community

As self-published authors, distribution is always the most difficult aspect of our work. Mostly, you sell books to your family and friends, try to get your book on the shelves of local stores, and make use of social media to promote your brand. It is extremely difficult to get book sales at schools, or through school district offices, or at private schools. The large corporate book companies have a limited selection of Black children’s books and do not promote them in any significant way such as special themed series or notable book lists. We organized in an effort to change that reality because for us, the lack of Black children’s books in schools is a clear and evident social justice issue.

However, as we began to do the work we discovered that the non-presence of Black children’s books in early childhood classrooms is more nefarious than just book sales. We saw that in our region, the majority of Black third grade students fail the state mandated assessment in Reading at an annual average rate of 65-70% (MODESE 2014-2017). This to me is unconscionable. I believe when children see themselves in the literature, they connect to it deeply, have a higher desire to read, and with consistency develop a strong love for reading.

Our mission is one of fostering awareness about the importance of early literacy and creating opportunities for all children to have access to Black children’s literature. Our programs and activities designed to achieve our mission are explained on our website where you may also learn about other Black authors of children’s literature and their books:

www.stlblackauthors.com.

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I believe when children see themselves in the literature, they connect to it deeply, have a higher desire to read, and with consistency develop a strong love for reading.

For Black children, literacy is liberation - Julius Anthony

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