Finding Freedom in a Book.

In Daddy’s Arms I AM TALL: African Americans Celebrating Fathers

Illustrated By: Javanka Steptoe

“When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.”

– Ashanti Proverb

I am TallThis book is a mass collaboration of poems written by 12 different authors. Each poem takes a different approach in talking about fathers, but they all highlight the importance of a father’s presence. Every illustration provides the necessary visuals to bring each written piece to life for the reader. Unfortunately, the narrative that has been written for African-American fathers in America has not been of positive discourse and that has to change… particularly because there has been little to no efforts in showing the other side. What is the other side you ask? Well the one that consists of Black fathers who exemplify everything in this book: supportive, loving, hard-working, compassionate, reliable, and the strongest people we know. That is who I know. That is my brother, your brother, your dad, cousin, uncle etc. Today, I am happy to see social media pages who’ve taken on the task to appropriately celebrate our fathers, and I am even more touched to see movements like The Black Man Can –which focuses on educating, inspiring, and celebrating boys and men of color. See more here:

Jamaica Louise James

By: Amy Hest

Illustrated By: Sheila White Samton

JamaicaOkay, so first off can we talk about what a DOPE name this little girl has!? It was the first thing I saw and of course her stylish apparel. Jamaica is an 8-year-old artist who enjoys drawing the many things she sees along the New York City streets. On her birthday, her mom and grandma gift her with a paint set and she is ecstatic. Her grandma works down in the subway station on 86th and Main veerrryyy early in the morning, and sometimes Jamaica peers out her window and watches her go down the steps to the underground world. One thing she can’t stand is how lifeless and bland the walls are down in the subway station… so she has a very special idea of how she can spice things up! This story is playful, colorful, and inspiring. It demonstrates the importance of nurturing children’s gifts and giving them the freedom to be creative and think for themselves. You feel the passion Jamaica has for art in every page of this book, and her close-knit family reminds us of our own. A fun and humorous read that will instantly stimulate imagination.

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song

By: Debbie Levy

Illustrated By: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

They started to protest.

They brought a church song, “I Will Overcome”, to the streets.

But since they were marching and working together, they sang “WE will Overcome.”

We, together, will overcome.

OvercomeThis book tells of the history of a song we all should know, We Shall Overcome. This song stood as the anthem during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, yet dates all the way back to slavery. During the slavery era, our people had nothing to call their own –except their song. With each day, they endured more and more cruelty and oppression… but they still sang. There is something really special about music and singing that can release a multitude of emotion and speak for us when we cannot. Not surprisingly, this song reached all across the world to other countries where people were faced with adversities. This song has not only crossed borders, but also color, creed, race, and religion. While it stands as the foundation hymn for African Americans in their fight for equality, it also serves as an invitation to all people of all backgrounds to join in on the fight. We are always stronger together and every link matters… this book conveys that exact message.

Our Children Can Soar

By: Michelle Cook

“It is a story for everyone. For it is on the backs of our ancestors that every child is raised.”

soar.jpgGeorge Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, Hattie McDaniel, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Barack Obama are all featured as the Pioneers of Change in this book. It is so important for children to be aware of the history of their people and how far we’ve come. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the scholar and historian called “the Father of Black History,” once said “those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” It’s almost like not knowing who your family is… who you are, why you are the way you are, why you do things the way you do, why you LOOK the way you do. Family ties tell us a lot about ourselves whether we like it or not, and furthermore, so do our ancestors. Personally, being aware of the struggle people of both my race and ethnicity (Haitian) have experienced, gives me the motivation to be my best self every. single. day. I am encouraged to be a positive example and mentor for the next generation of black children. Our children can soar, and they WILL soar, as long as we equip them with the knowledge and tools to do so. An inspiring and hopeful read.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad

By: Ellen Levine

Illustrated By: Kadir Nelson

Caldecott Honor Book

“Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was.

Henry was a slave.

And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.”

BoxWOW. WOW. WOWWWWWW!! Do you know about the story of Henry “Box” Brown!? The man who MAILED himself to freedom! Well, if you don’t I suggest you read this book. I never heard of this man prior to reading this book and I am honestly sitting here wondering how this got past me. This is a true story about a man born into slavery who loses everything he loves, and immediately makes a radical decision to ship himself to freedom by traveling in a wooden box. Your eyes will be glued to each page as the story unfolds and you will probably finish the book sooner than you expect because it’s just THAT GOOD, but please don’t rush through it! It makes you think… the amount of persecution and abuse slaves faced must have been unimaginable, to the extent that they desired to be birds, whom –at times flew aimlessly– but still flew freely. Freedom was the answer and Henry knew that in order to get it, he had to potentially risk his life in the process. In life, sometimes we have to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions to achieve great things. This story calls attention to the ambition and conviction that Henry possessed –which also lives within us.


Next Steps In (L.I.T)eracy

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me

By: Daniel Beaty

Illustrated By: Bryan Collier

“Papa, come home, ’cause I want to be just like you, but I’m forgetting who you are.”

knockThis story is representative of the author’s actual lived experience, whose father got incarcerated when he was only 3 years old. Whether it is through incarceration, divorce, or even death… this book provides a positive outlook on what a parent can leave behind for their child, even in their absence. I was moved, and even cried after reading this book because it put so much into perspective for me, as I always try to see the good in every situation (glass is always half full over here). “Absent father” is usually followed by “troubled child,” but this book highlights the contrary and demonstrates a father’s ability to still have a positive impact on the life of his son; even when he is not physically there to guide him through it. When time, space, distance, or death becomes the bridge between you and a parent/guardian there are always little pieces of them that are left behind for you to learn from. A beautiful story of a life far too many of us are familiar with, but also a story that must be shared. LOVE this book from start to finish.

Bintou’s Braids

By: Sylviane A. Diouf

Illustrated By: Shane W. Evans

“She asks, Bintou, why are you crying?” I say, “I want to be pretty like you.” She says, “Little girls can’t have braids. Tomorrow I’ll cornrow your hair.” That’s all I ever get–cornrows.”

bintouA tale from West Africa, Bintou wishes she could have braids in her hair just like her sister and other village women. Unfortunately, little girls cannot have braids, so she’s stuck getting cornrows or wearing those four little tufts on her head. Haha! This story made me chuckle a bit, because there was a time when all I ever wore was cornrows! And I don’t remember getting tired of them until about 7th-8th grade. By the time I got to high school I had joined the Creamy Crack Squad and got a perm (womp). I was so over crying out of frustration just to get my huge mane of coarse-fluffy hair into a neat pony. AND LOOK AT ME TODAY, completely natural… loving what the good Lord birthed me with (YAS). Bintou too, learns that she is beautiful just the way she is and that she can style her tufts in ways that make her unique. Children should never have to concern themselves with the notion that they need to grow up faster in ANY aspect of life –and no society, no trend, no person should ever make them believe otherwise.

Freedom In  Congo Square

By: Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie

Caldecott Honor Book

   “Slaves had off one afternoon, when the law allowed them to commune. They flocked to New Orleans’ Congo Square. Sundays, slaves and free met there.”

congoFor starters, the illustrations in this book are compelling and profound. Congo Square was a place where hundreds of slaves in New Orleans would meet to dance, sing, play instruments, and socialize amongst each other. According to a law called the Code Noir, Sundays were holy days and this was the only day of the week slaves had off from work. For some, slavery has sadly become just a memory but Freedom In Congo Square provides children and adults with the education that is necessary to understand the foundation of #BlackCulture and how we continue to fight today. This book has lots of information, with both the Foreword and Author’s Note sections providing historical facts about the history of Congo Square. Fun Fact! Jazz was born out of Congo Square where the mixture of African, Caribbean, and European styles led to the development of new music. I have been to New Orleans, but not Congo Square, so that is definitely on my list of places to go to next time around! Still today, Sunday continues to serve as the day where people gather and play music etc. in Congo Square… Now THAT would be a sight to see!

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope

By: Nikki Grimes

Illustrated By: Bryan Collier

“Barack heard God say, “Slow down.

Look around you.

Now look to me. There is enough hope here to last a lifetime.”

BarackThis book tells of the life of a man we know and love SO dearly, number 44 and the-best-to-ever-do-it, Mr. Barack Obama. It takes you through his journey from little boy, to the day he became America’s 44th President. With as many times as we’ve heard his story, it gets even greater, and really does something to you. At a young age Barack knew he wanted to live a life of service and advocacy, and he knew a quality education would get him there. Barack stood as the first example for every Black child, who now, can add “President” to their list of potential careers. I can still remember the day he got elected. I was a sophomore in high school… I cried tears of joy while my brother blasted Tupac Shakur’s “Changes” shouting loudly, “and although it seems heaven sent, we aint ready to see a black President,” but GOD. When he was re-elected I was a sophomore in college, and I ran across the campus quad screaming, “MY PRESIDENT IS BLAAACKKKK” Ah! haha, unforgettable. Barack’s story is grounded in hope, and he believed in the promise that one day he would impact the world. On November 4, 2008 and for 8 years more, yes he did. Yes he did.

Our People

By: Angela Shelf Medearis

Illustrated By: Michael Bryant

“Daddy says our people have had a glorious past, but that I have a glorious future.”

PeopleA young girl is taken through African-American history, as her father tells her all about what our people have accomplished. From building pyramids, to creating inventions that we use every day, her father presents to her the many black hands that contributed to our advancement. The little girl wishes she could have taken part in every moment of #BlackExcellence from her people’s past, but her father ensures her that she can impact her people’s future. Everything about this book is beautiful. From the illustrations, to the history, to the fun-loving relationship that is demonstrated between a father and his daughter; this book serves as a reminder that a child will only know as much as we teach them. Education starts at home, and if we don’t do the job, that can open the door for other influences to begin infiltrating what they think they know. After reading this book, you will be left feeling proud of our people, and excited for YOUR future.

(L.I.T)eracy Line Up…

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream And You

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated By: James E. Ransome

“You can be a King.

Lift up the less fortunate.

Be the King or Queen of Help.”

KingThere is no doubt that we are all aware of the impact Dr. King has made on our nation.  He envisioned a better future for his children, and he fought for it without hesitation. What excites you the most? What gets you up in the morning? What is it that makes you look forward to a new day, a new year, your future? This book brings all of this to a personal level and states how, you too, can be King. It encourages readers to acknowledge their own unique gifts, and use them to positively impact our world. It reminds us to, “keep the faith, know that bigotry hurts, learn as much as you can, march to your own conscience.” We don’t have to conform to what society currently praises, no. We should be embodying everything that we already ARE. Let’s raise up the next generation of Martins and Rosas… although times have changed we still have something to fight for, right?

The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen

By: Thelma Lynne Godin

Illustrated By: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

“I sort through my hoops and pick out my favorite. And then I feel it comin’ on. The itch. The Hula-Hoopin’ itch. My fingers start snappin’, and my feet start tappin’.”

HulaChiilleeee, this book is going to have you grinning ear to ear. The story has such a classic and timeless feel to it. Kameeka is the beautiful black girl on this book’s cover who plans on beating her main competitor, Jamara, at a hula-hooping contest so she can become The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th street. Unfortunately, Kameeka finds herself in some trouble when she can no longer face-off with Jamara because of an important birthday party she has to plan… will she ever find the time to earn the special title? Another story based in Harlem, New York! YASSS, and you get all the feels of community, family, laughter, fun… all things that make for the most memorable childhood experiences. The intensity of Black culture is also ALL OVER this book. Our beauty (from young to old), our language, our fashion, our forever-young spirits, and most importantly our love. This is a book I especially enjoyed… yes, I was a hula-hooper myself ;  ).

Let The Children March

By: Monica Clark-Robinson

Illustrated By: Frank Morrison

“Boys and girls, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends,

on and on we marched,

we marched.

we marched.


MarchTears flowed as I read this. While I am not a parent yet, I am an aunt and we just LOVE our nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings, we love our children unconditionally. The pain that a parent must feel knowing they cannot help their child in a situation where they may not be able to fend for themselves… unbearable. This tells the true historical events of The Children’s Crusade March of Birmingham, Alabama in May 1963. After Dr. King urges folks to fight for their freedom and march, a number of adults expressed their fears of losing their jobs… so the children stepped in. Dr. King proclaimed, “Let the children march. They will lead the way.” May 2nd was the beginning of 8 consecutive days of marching. Children were attacked by dogs, hoses, people, and thousands were imprisoned. On May 10th, Dr. King was able to reach an agreement with city leaders to begin the process of desegregation in Birmingham. The children’s resilience and energy, led to a great victory. This book makes you think about the things you might hold the little people in your life back from… let them lead. Children have the power to change the world, we just need to trust them with it.

Yo, Jo!

By: Rachel Isadora

“I love you Grandpa,”

Jomar says.

“That’s better,” Grandpa says with a wink.”

JoThis book has such a fun-loving, upbeat, and SWAGGED out feel to it! And the illustrations are dope, having been done in collage and oil on pallete paper. It all JUMPS out right at you and I love it! It also has very humorous aspects that made me chuckle a number of times as I flipped through the pages. You watch all of the different ways Jomar and his brother Franklin say hello to people in their neighborhood. Then, you hear how Jomar says hello to Grandpa, haha! Who sets that boy straight. Another book set in the concrete jungle of New York City, the cool vibes of the Hip-Hop influenced culture spews out in every part of  this book. Different places and activities commonly seen in urban neighborhoods are also represented in this book; from the infamous Spanish Bodega, to B-boys break dancing on the side walk. This is an awesome book for a little black boy or girl! Who lives in or is familiar with the culture of an urban city, as the images and language used in this book easily mirrors people and places within these cities. Being able to have real life examples and books representative of personal life experiences are invaluable resources for children to have when building literacy skills. If you’re looking for a quick, hip, easy, and fun read –Yo, Jo is the way to go, go!

TRAILBLAZER: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson

By: Leda Schubert

Illustrated By: Theodore Taylor III

With A Foreword By: Misty Copeland

“In some states, it was illegal for black dancers and white dancers to share the same stage. Sometimes Raven lightened her skin with makeup.”

Raven WThis book tells of the triumphant life of Raven Wilkinson, the first African-American ballerina to ever dance with a major American touring troupe. Misty Copeland regards Ms. Wilkinson as her inspiration, as she helped pave the way for many Black ballerinas. Although very fair-skinned, Raven did not always go below the radar and encountered threatening incidents, simply from being a member of an all-white troupe. In the foreword, Misty states, “the lack of diversity and representation in classical ballet is an ongoing issue,” as is in a number of other sports. One that immediately comes to mind is Tennis, where trailblazing sisters Venus and Serena Williams have unapologetically brought every part of their Blackness onto those courts with them (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON). I’m grateful Raven Wilkinson’s story is being told, as I had never heard of her until I discovered this book. There’s a quote that says, “You cannot BE what you have not SEEN.” It becomes this collective victory for our people when someone Black makes history because then it becomes OUR history, and then it sparks the next generation to MAKE history. This is a beautiful and inspiring book for your aspiring ballerina.

Starting 5, Look Alive!

Radiant Child

2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

By: Javanka Steptoe

“And at his most important shows, above all the critics, fans, and artists he admires, the place of honor is his mother’s, a queen on a throne.”

RadiantA beautiful and inspiring story of the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat a legendary artist from Brooklyn, New York who inspired generations of artists that came after him. One thing I find to be amazing about this book is how the Javanka interprets Basquiat’s work in this book, as none of it is Basquiat’s original artwork. In the foreword Javanka encourages his readers to create their own art by collecting materials from people and places in their environment. This story is very informational and highlights important aspects in the complex life of Jean-Michel. Mental illness is also touched on in this book as Basquiat’s mother suffered from it; Javanka says, “I also wanted young readers and the adults in their lives to be able to use Basquiat’s story as a catalyst for conversation and healing.” Nonetheless, this book serves as a powerful tool to encourage children to color/draw/paint imperfectly, because the real magic is found beyond the lines of perfection.

my people

2010 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

By: Langston Hughes

Photographs by: Charles R. Smith Jr.

PeopleAhh!! This book is brilliant and was simply a joy to read… and look at! Photographer, Charles R. Smith found this original poem written by Langston and decided to bring its words to life. And he DID THAT! What I love so much about this book is that it shows black people of all different shades, features, ages etc. demonstrating to all that while we stand collectively, there are a number of things that make us unique to one another. In the photographer’s notes at the end of the book he talks about his inspiration for creating the book and how he made his decisions. Charles says something that is very important and that was, “Only black people would be in the book, since they are who Langston celebrated. His words were not meant to dismiss other races; just to celebrate his own.” This a very important concept we should teach our children as early as possible and one we should remember as we continue through life.

Visiting Langston

By: Willie Perdomo

Illustrated By Caldecott Honoree: Bryan Collier

“He can tell you why my 

Dreams run wild

Why Daddy says I’m like

Langston’s genius child.”

VisitingNow I have to confess, I found and read this book more for me personally than anyone else. Haha! I am a lover of all things Langston Hughes and I saw a lot of myself in this little girl. This book is a tale of a Harlem girl who visits Langston’s home with her father, she too, is a poet. She talks about who Langston was and raves about her special trip to his house. First of all, I need to visit Langston’s house now! And second, I think this was a great way  to connect an American cultural hero to the youth of today.  While Langston lived during times of heartache and pain, he still created a number of masterpieces (novels, children’s stories, lyrics for musicals, plays etc.) exhibiting his hopes for a better tomorrow. This is a beautiful and inspiring book for both children and adults.


By: Useni Eugene Perkins

Illustrated By Caldecott Honoree: Bryan Collier

“Hey Black Child… Do you know you can learn

What you want to learn

If you try to learn What you


Black ChildThis book is calls out every Black child and asks them very important questions… questions that I feel a lot of people forget to actually ask black children regularly. This book is a reminder not only to the Black child, but to everyone who reads it, that you can do anything you imagine. We are not predisposed to stupidity (that is not funny – it is offensive & I’ve witnessed people laugh when that was said), we are not less than, we are not less capable, WE. ARE. NOT. LESS. This book is saying exactly this using other words and it charges the upcoming generations to aspire to take on leadership positions to positively impact our nation.

CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut

By: Derrick Barnes

Illustrated By: Gordon C. James

“You know why? Because you’ll leave out of “the shop” every single time, feeling the same exact way… Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty. Hello, world…”

CROWNListennnnnnn, if you have or know a young boy who knows how DOPE it is to get a FRESH CUT! This is the book you NEED. It truly captures the essence of “Black Boy Joy” and the emotions that come from getting a fresh hair cut at your local barbershop. It warmed my heart to also see different hair types depicted in the book — locks, braids, low cut, fade… even a woman with a tapered side (like I used to have) man oh man! I smiled as I read this, because it’s exactly what our little ones need to feel their very best! With or without a haircut, this book shares with the world a very special experience, that words have not been able to describe, in such an impeccable way.

I’m Back & I’m… Learning.

While on my journey to help others whether in my professional/personal life… I’ve come to realize that I also need to help myself. Because I haven’t been.

It has been a loonnnggg time friends. I have family members who’ve been telling me since FOREVER to get back on this thing (specifically my big brother, love you Hans). But MAN oh MAN is life not easy. Let’s just say my transition into Young Adulthood hasn’t been the prettiest, most smooth-sailing, logical thing that’s ever happened. Like, I knew it was going to come? HECK! I couldn’t wait for it to come sometimes; I just wasn’t prepared to take the punch that came with it.  Yeah, it was that stomach punch — that “knock your breath out your entire body punch.” But I’m still living and making it through by God’s grace and simply trying my best every single day.

While on my journey to help others whether in my professional/personal life… I’ve come to realize that I also need to help myself. Because I haven’t been. This is more for me than it is for viewers, likers, subscribers etc. It’s part of my self-care and I had to really think about the things that once brought me peace, joy, and relaxation and to no surprise I discovered those things to be: writing, blogging, reading, event planning, SERENDIPITOUS trips. I’ve done a little bit of all of these things these past few years, but there’s a few I’d like to keep more consistent, and this is one of them.

I’ve kept my old stuff up just as a visual reminder of my evolution and growth over time. I started this blog spot over spring break during my sophomore year of college and I owe it to those weeks of boredom, as it birthed a beautiful idea that became this blog. Anyways, I’ll post about a variety of things, book reviews, movie reviews, daily inspiration, fun stuff in my life, my niece, my family, trips… allllll that.

Well, thanks for being here. I appreciate your presence.

Yup, that’s me! (In my best That’s So Raven voice)


Rest in Peace Mr. Patch Adams


It was in the movie “Patch Adams,” that I learned the ULTIMATE importance of laughter, love, and care. And it was in that movie alone, that you could tell what kind of person Robin was just from the role he played.

So Robin Williams’ cause of death was apparently asphyxiation (suffocation). The news brought a little water to my eyes.. This man suffocated himself to death. It is a very true fact that you never know what a person is going through! As many do a GREAT job of hiding it. And remember this.. If everyone put their problems on a table & you were told to choose which one you wanted, you’d still choose your own because other people’s problems are probably worse than yours.

Everyone’s situation is unique to another, and only certain kinds of people can handle certain kinds of problems.. It’s JUST. THAT. SIMPLE.

BE GRATEFUL. For what you have –for what you DON’T have. We need to stop living each day as if it was SUPPOSE to happen, we’re granted the privilege to see another day. Thank God! So it is imperative not only to do the things that bring joy into our own hearts but others.

Because what is a life without helping others, loving others, being there for others, and making people laugh… Right Patch? I mean Robin =)

Future in Focus

Don’t get SO caught up in the present that you start losing sight of the future. I see it happen too often, busy worried about the little things, the little drama of today. Put some energy into developing yourself into a better person for the days to come instead. What you do today determines who you’ll become tomorrow… Yes. But what is it that you want to be tomorrow? Do you even know? Do you have an idea? If not, spend some time formulating what it is/who it is that you want to be. That’s one way of keeping your future in focus. Everyone lives different lifestyles and that’s okay, but it isn’t smart nor healthy to drown yourself in worry. So adjust those lenses of yours and see life in an upgraded version… See your life for what it has the potential of becoming.