February was Black History Month, and we spotlit some of our favorite Black authors during Story & Craft with a KidLit in Color collaboration! We dove into some amazing books curated by authors Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Alliah L. Agostini, Kaitlyn Wells and Tameka Fryer Brown! Want to learn more about the authors we featured? Head to our Instagram @socalkidsmuseum and check out the “Takeovers” highlight reel to see their stories!

Story Line Up

February 1: Hold Them Close

Hold Them Closeis a book that affirms our proud history while giving families a way to have open and frank conversations about the difficult parts of that history. I’m hoping that the art and the language show Black children just how beautiful they are. – Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, M.S.Ed 

About Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, M.S.Ed, is a Philadelphia-based, award-winning children’s book author. Her picture books and middle grade fiction, which feature young Black and Muslim protagonists, have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by Time Magazine, NCTE, and NPR, and she is a 2021 Irma Black Award silver medalist. A former teacher and forever educator at heart, she is probably most proud that her picture book Your Name Is a Song was named a NEA Read Across America book and that it is included in the standardized curriculums of major school districts throughout the United States.   

February 8: The Juneteenth Story

The Juneteenth Story is an important book for kids and their grownups- it speaks to the origins of the Juneteenth holiday, and its subsequent evolution. When I wrote it, I knew that educating people about Juneteenth was going to be a unique, multi-generational learning opportunity, because so many people of all ages were learning about Juneteenth for the first time. But I also wanted to make sure I didn’t sugarcoat the reality of the situation while still making it accessible to young readers. As I’ve talked to students about the book, it has been so eye-opening to hear their responses. From their insightful questions to their instinctive understanding of fairness and inequity… it reassured me that this book could be a powerful learning tool for many, but more importantly, that kids are much more equipped to process hard truths than many adults seem to believe they are. – Alliah L. Agostini, author

About Alliah L. Agostini

Buffalo, NY native Alliah L. Agostini has marketed everything from tampons to scrappy start-ups, but motherhood helped her return to her first love: children’s literature. She writes to spread joy, truth, and to help more children see themselves reflected on the page. Alliah is the author of The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States, the upcoming Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince and A Little Golden Book about Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Agostini resides in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

February 15: A Family Looks Like Love

I wrote A Family Looks Like Love from the broken pieces of my own heart when relatives told me I didn’t belong because of the color of my skin. But this book brings me so much joy because it reminds everyone you don’t have to look like your family to call them your own. And since the story is from the perspective of my dog Sutton—who doesn’t look like her siblings either—it offers families an accessible way to discuss race and identity on terms many children will enjoy. Who doesn’t love puppies?! – Kaitlyn Wells, author

About Kaitlyn Wells

Kaitlyn Wells is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others. Her commentary on diverse literature can be found in The New York Times Book Review, BookPage, and Diverse Kids Books. Her first children’s book, A Family Looks Like Love (Penguin Random House/Flamingo Books, May 2022), draws on her painful experiences growing up Black biracial in Texas. It received the Outstanding Book Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, and has made the Children’s Book Council summer best books list. She lives in New York City with her wonderful husband, rambunctious dog, and demanding cat. Visit KaitWells.com to subscribe to her newsletter that explores how Black, Indigenous, and womxn of color navigate the world.

February 22: Twelve Dinging Doorbells

Twelve Dinging Doorbells has been very well received by critics and readers alike. It is overflowing with Black joy, makes for a lively read-aloud, and will likely inspire lots of craft and activity ideas. – Tameka Fryer Brown, author

About Tameka Fryer Brown

Tameka Fryer Brown is a picture book author who writes to sow seeds of self-love, pride, connectivity, and inclusion in the hearts of children. Her books have won awards like the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award and the Anna Dewdney Read Together Award, and have been honored on best book lists by NPR, Parents Latina Magazine, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, New York Public Library, Bank Street College, The Little Free Library, and more. Tameka’s picture books include Brown Baby Lullaby, Twelve Dinging Doorbells, Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm’s Fight for Change, and That Flag. tamekafryerbrown.com


About KidLit in Color

KidLit in Color is a group of traditionally published BIPOC creatives. They nurture one another, amplify diverse voices, and advocate for equitable representation in the industry. Their work includes picture books, chapter books, and middle grade fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about their work and the authors here.