Today African American children’s books in every genre are a vibrant part of any library or personal collection. Yet there are many works by African Americans from prior eras that aren’t well known. In Free Within Ourselves, nationally respected expert Rudine Sims Bishop introduces you to the full beauty and power of African American children’s literature, offering insight into its rich tradition.

Bishop guides you from important early works for African American children such as W.E.B. DuBois’ The Brownies Book, to the 1969 publication of John Steptoe’s Stevie—the breakthrough modern African American picture book—to recent young adult fiction such as Christopher Paul Curtis’ popular Bud Not Buddy, winner of both the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Newbery Medal.

All along, her energetic chronicle brings to life the crucial figures who have contributed to the rise of African American children’s literature and delves deep into the plot, characters, and themes of their most popular and teachable works. The result is an unparalleled treasury of ideas and information for teaching with African American children’s literature. Across genres, in poetry, picture books, and contemporary and historical fiction, Black authors and artists have created a body of children’s literature that celebrates the strengths of family; bears witness to the struggle for freedom, equality, and dignity; nurtures children; and honors the story as a way of teaching and knowing.

Free Within Ourselves gives you all the background you’ll need to introduce or expand the role of African American children’s literature in your classroom; to use it for teaching reading, literature, and social studies; and to connect all students with the powerful stories of African Americans.