In her article from the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson looks back at her bookish childhood and how it informs her work as a youth services librarian in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. African Americans are just three percent of that city’s population — “so even fewer black teenagers — and some might question spending significant funds for materials targeted toward a small minority. In my particular case, one patron.”
For young Vaunda, Marguerite de Angeli’s Bright April was the book that “allowed me to look inside myself and admit to the quiet pain I’d felt, but repressed, whenever I was treated differently because of my skin color. April helped me deal with some of the embarrassment of Little Black Sambo and Buckwheat from The Little Rascals. She helped me find a place for these feelings, a good place.”
For more about Vaunda’s book-loving family history, read her 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award speech for No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller.
To commemorate Black History Month, we are highlighting a series of articles, speeches, and reviews from The Horn Book archive that are by and/or about African American authors, illustrators, and luminaries in the field — one a day through the month of February, with a roundup on Fridays. Click the tag HBBlackHistoryMonth17 and look for #HBBlackHistoryMonth17 on Facebook.com/TheHornBook and @HornBook. You can find more resources about social justice and activism at our Talking About Race and Making a Difference resource pages.