No Reading, No Peace: The Power Of Black Stories Out Loud

The difference between owning a book by a Black author and experiencing its power lies in reading it aloud — particularly for kids' books, which can help kids speak up about their own experiences.
Summer Poll judge Andrea Davis Pinkney says the first book she remembers her parents reading out loud was Ezra Jack Keats' classic The Snowy Day. Source: Christine Simmons

When I was a kid, my brother, sister, and I came to the dinner table prepared to do three things: Bless the food, eat, and share a story. We grew up in a family where the oral tradition was woven into the strands of our everyday lives. Mom was an English teacher. Dad, a grass-roots civil rights organizer who worked in public policy, was a gifted, charismatic storyteller. He didn't hold back when it came to sharing narratives about the dignity of Black people and the struggles we faced and transcended.

Both of my parents were voracious readers who understood the importance of taking books off their shelves and reading them aloud. My folks knew that the difference between just owning a book and experiencing its power by Ezra Jack Keats, the first mainstream book to feature a child of color as the central character.

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