The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939

    Further Reading on Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance

  • Bishop, Rudine S. Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children's Literature. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2007. Print.

    Bishop’s study provides a historical and contextual overview of African American children’s literature from its roots in antebellum oral culture in the late nineteenth century to the contemporary realistic and historical fiction of start of the twenty-first century. Bishop devotes an entire chapter to W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Brownies’ Book magazine and the significance of the Harlem Renaissance in fostering a writing specifically for African American children.

  • Fabi, M. Giulia. “Reconstructing the Race: The Novel after Slavery.” The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel. Ed. Maryemma Graham. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 34-49. Print.

    Fabi examines the often overlooked novels written by African Americans after the Civil War but before the Harlem Renaissance. The article considers the cultural and social significance of postbellum African American-authored novels, including the Sunday school books of Amelia E. Johnson, which served as an important precursor to the children’s literature that emerged in the Harlem Renaissance.

  • Johnson-Feelings, Dianne. The Best of the Brownies' Book. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

    This anthology provides selections from the 24 issues of The Brownies’ Book, including stories, plays, poetry, biographies, editorial columns, and photographs. The anthology also provides a brief historical overview of the magazine, biographies of several notable contributors, and an afterword which considers the rhetorical tools the magazine employed in advancing Du Bois’s philosophy of racial uplift.

  • ---. Telling Tales: The Pedagogy and Promise of African American Literature for Youth. Contributions in Afro-American and African studies, no. 139. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Print.

    By providing close readings of a highly selective group of texts, including a chapter devoted to The Brownies’ Book, this work examines the development of African American literature for young people from 1920 to the late twentieth century. Johnson also considers the publishing industry’s effect on the development of African American children’s literature.

  • Lewis, David L. When Harlem Was in Vogue. New York: Knopf, 1981. Print.

    This landmark study of the Harlem Renaissance describes the influential environment of Harlem during decade and a half following the First World War. Lewis discusses African Americans’ inroads into the artistic scene of American culture while describing the ethos that guided the optimism of the New Negro movement.

  • Martin, Michelle H. Brown Gold: Milestones of African American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002. Children's literature and culture, 30. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.

    Martin provides a history and analysis of African-American children's picture books from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The study explores how children’s picture books have evolved from problematic early representations of African Americans which were rooted in minstrelsy and stereotype.

  • Osa, Osayimwense. The All-White World of Children's Books and African American Children's Literature. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1995. Print.

    This collection of essays cover multiple topics related to the field of African Americans’ children’s literature, including the field’s historical context and its function as a counterpoint to racist stereotypes.

  • Smith, Katharine C. Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Print.

    A study of the children’s literature which emerged from the Harlem Renaissance, Smith’s book examines the way in which the writing for children strove to articulate and represent black cultural identity by participating in the discussions surrounding the New Negro ideology. Smith includes chapters on W. E. B. Du Bois’s publications, the function of children’s dramas and pageants in shaping community identity, the issue of dialect and the legacy of the South, the Associated Publishers publishing house, and the work of Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps.