June 14, 2018

Representing slavery in children’s literature

Over the last six years, Penn GSE’s Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and her research team have compiled a database of 160 children’s books covering slavery that were published between 1970 and 2015—almost half of all the children’s books on slavery published in the 35-year period, many of which are no longer in print.

An expert on children’s literature and the teaching of African-American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, Thomas says parents, teachers, and educators must consider questions of readership, ethnicity, class, gender, story, background, intended audience, and difficulty when selecting books for their students.

Penn Today recently asked Thomas about books that handled slavery in a meaningful way that was still appropriate for children, and which ones missed the mark. Read the full piece here.