Tag Archives: Black History

Down-to-Read with Daniela: They Called Themselves the K.K.K.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Age Group:
Marketed to children but appropriate for all ages.

Non-Fiction, American History, Black History, Race

Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Nonfiction (2010), YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Nominee (2011)

In this new non-fiction work, Bartoletti takes readers back to the origins of the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Beginning with the Civil War, the abolition of slavery and concluding with the Reconstruction period, she provides readers with an in depth account of the motivations and ideologies behind the virulent and racist hate group.

Founded by a handful of white Southern men, the Klan soon grew to accommodate thousands of followers who lead a campaign to terrorize and undermine black Americans in the years following the Civil War. As blacks fought for the vote and their independence, they lived each day in fear of white insurrection. But determined to establish themselves and provide for their families, they stood strong against the intimidating Klan. Soon laws were enacted to protect blacks, but America would never fully eliminate the Klan’s presence.

My Thoughts:
What an interesting and unique topic for a children’s book! I learned a lot about American history reading this book. At the same time, it was a challenge to read. The language is highly sophisticated. Historical documents are written in old English which also proves to be difficult to interpret.

Even the most advanced child would probably have some difficulty with this book. As such I would recommend it more as a research aid than a leisure read. But nonetheless a fascinating topic that sheds light on the origins of race relations in America.

Borrow They Called Themselves the K.K.K. from your local Vaughan library!

Black History Month Read

bookcover_hillIf you’re looking for a book to read to in conjunction with Black History Month, than you couldn’t do better than Lawrence Hill’s “Someone knows my Name”.   This was originally published as “The Book of Negroes” and in the summer it was quite hard to get your hands on a library copy. Now there are copies available in many VPL branches. This novel is really the ultimate Black History read, encompassing the story of the slave trade, middle passage, the Black Loyalists, the Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone settlements and the British Abolitionist movement.


Our fictional heroine Aminata Diallo when introduced is a young girl growing up in her West African village in 1745. She has been taught the rudiments of reading by her father and attends births with her mother, a midwife.  This idyllic existence comes to an abrupt end with the advent of strangers stepping out of the bushes into the moonlight armed with “ropes, leather straps and knives”. The description of Aminata’s harrowing slave ship passage, her “sale” at an auction to an indigo farmer and other atrocities of the slave trade are related in a first person narrative that is engrossing and totally believable.


This thoroughly researched novel not only brings this sorry period of history to life but Hill also creates a heroine that readers can fully identify with. Through Aminata we experience all the horrors and few satisfactions that made up her story and also the stories of the millions whose lot was the life of an African slave. Due to some very realistic scenes of cruelty this is a book for adults and perhaps older teenagers.