Modern Culture and Identity

As a liberation from past repressive whitewashing of history, children readily identify themselves with the stories within the pages of books about African-American communities and characters with familiar dialects and idioms.


African American authors and illustrators stimulated by the freedom to convey culturally authentic messages in order to create an experience for African American youth. Rather than criticizing previous wrongdoings, these African American authors and illustrators set out to rectify these past inaccuracies by instead creating authentic portrayals. Along with this, they validated the narratives that thought African American children the importance of retaining their “Blackness.”

Books centered around biographies, family and home life, community and African heritage began gaining recognition by the late 1960s. A need arose for children to be able to overcome external prejudices in support of positive personal, and collective identities. Many books expressed pride of heritage and realities of life post Civil Rights era, still the road to acceptance in mainstream publishing and readership was a challenging one. The genre was ignored by publishers with the claim that African American books written by African Americans wouldn’t sell. By 1988, Just Us Books became one of the first major publishers to support the growth of African American children’s books. Today, the largest publisher of books by multicultural authors and illustrators is Lee & Low Books.