Our Stories Matter 1st Annual African American Read-In

On Saturday, February 18th, Black Children’s Books and Authors hosted the Our Stories Matter 1st Annual African American Read-In. Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, a member of the Black Caucus of the NCTE, founded the National African American in 1989 to celebrate Black History Month, African American authors, and literacy. She believes that “a school and community reading event can be an effective way to promote diversity in children’s literature [and] encourage young people to read.” The International Literacy Association has endorsed the initiative.

The Our Stories Matter Read-In featured literature written by traditional and self-published authors. Readers—which included adults as well as children—shared picture books, poetry, and excerpts from longer titles. Memphis author Katina Rankin shared her story, Up North, Down South, and students from Memphis Challenge, a local nonprofit, read books written and published by alumni students. A librarian even presented information on library use and how to obtain a library card. Below is a complete list of the literature presented. Click here for more sights and sounds from the Our Stories Matter Read-In.

“It is important for all of us to see ourselves in books.”—Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott


Our Stories Matter Read-In Presentations:

Up North, Down South: City Folk Meet Country Folk – Katina Rankin 

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me – Maya Angelou, Read by Kendra Love 

These Hands – Hope Lynne Price, Read by Mattysen Warner 

The Sun Is So Quiet – Nikki Giovanni “Winter Poem” Read by Kay Martin 

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems – Langston Hughes “My People” Read by Cortarious Jeter 

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems – Langston Hughes “The Dream Keeper” Read by Aki Cooper 

I, Too, Am America – Langston Hughes, Read by Ka’Veon White 

“I Done Quit Worrying About It” – Lucille Henard, Read by Karen Andrews

I Love My Hair! – Natasha Tarpley, Read by Jessica Otis 

Brothers and Sisters: Family Poems – Eloise Greenfield “Don’t Talk Mean” and “Slow Talker” Read by Tyrese White 

The Crossover – Kwame Alexander, Excerpts: “Josh Bell”; “How I Got My Nickname”; “At First”; “Filthy McNasty”; “Jordan Bell”; “On the Way to the Game”; “Five Reasons I Have Locks” Read by Aaron Ivory 

Locomotion – Jacqueline Woodson, Excerpt: “Dear God” Read by Curtis Jeter 

Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me – Daniel Beatty Read by Aaron Ivory 

Powerful Words – Wade Hudson “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” Read by Kymora Martin 

Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change – Michelle Cook, Read by Joe Martin 

Raven’s Recovery – Miles Thomas, Read by Memphis Challenge Students

Jared’s Strength – Bethany Pleas, Read by Memphis Challenge Students

The Heart Within the Zebra – Antonio Sims II, Kaia Starks, & Taylor Gladney, Read by Memphis Challenge Students

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