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"I'm gonna glory in learnin'": academic aspirations of African American characters in children's literature.

Scholastic success and failure is a prevalent theme in African American children's literature. African American juvenile fiction is often set in schools, and characters, of both genders and of all ages, express varying views about the value of education. African American children's literature has evolved from primarily portraying integration issues to questioning the quality of education for academic achievers and gifted African American children.

During the twentieth century, both African American and white authors have written about black characters and academic issues. Many early efforts by white authors, published from the 1900s through the 1950s, perpetuated distorted racist stereotypes of black students excelling in vocational not academic, roles to please white authority figures and secure their approval. Written from a white perspective, these books, sometimes intentionally, reinforced racial inequality and downplayed integration issues. However, several white authors, including Bette Greene in the 1970s and Carol Fenner in the 1990s, wrote realistic accounts of African American life and empowered their characters with intellectual ambitions.

Inspired by the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and African American periodicals, especially The Brownies' Book, African American authors Jesse Jackson and Lorenz Graham penned works with strong black characters in the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s and 1970s, these authors, along with Mildred Taylor, Virginia Hamilton, Walter Dean Myers, and Rosa Guy, had established a foundation of African American children's literature that reflected culturally accurate concerns and experiences of black characters. In the 1990s, Eleanora E. Tate, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Jacqueline Woodson, and a new generation of African American writers expanded their predecessors' literary base, producing works representative of modern African American voices and values. These books, depicting different eras and authors' insights, provide diverse sources to analyze the academic aspirations of African American characters in children's literature.

Scholars such as Janine Bempechat have emphasized that African American culture nurtures the group, not just the individual, and that the extended community - whether family, religious congregation, or friends and neighbors - celebrates "shared achievement" (2). Thus, group identification is vital to self-concept. Child advocate Marian Wright Edelman's elders encouraged her to serve her people and enrich the community, promoting the message that "doing well ... meant high academic achievement" (4). Through scholastic successes, students hope to create better lives for themselves and their families and to counter future discrimination. African American children experience events in school that are common to children of all races, but they experience other concerns and issues as well. Moreover, African American children cannot be considered a homogenous group; individuals experience and react to life uniquely, and fictional characters represent these varying experiences.

"'I'm going to try to find a place where I can fit in being both black and smart,'" asserts Maizon Singh, the main character in Jacqueline Woodson's trilogy Last Summer with Maizon, Maizon at Blue Hill, and Between Madison and Palmetto. Maizon gives voice to the fears of many African American youths when she declares, "'I don't want to be a failure'" (Maizon 126-27). A gifted student, Maizon encounters conflict and isolation in choosing an educational environment. Her academic aim to earn scholarship money and secure pride for herself, family, and community creates uncomfortable school situations. Winning tuition to an exclusive boarding school, Maizon worries about fitting in, making friends, and retaining contact with her peers at home; she fears that her academic successes will result in social losses.

Because intelligent African American students are often considered anomalies, in fictional depictions they are closely scrutinized as they succeed in academic challenges but struggle at coping with people. Encountering jealousy and competition from classmates, Maizon understands that "'they hated me because I'm black and smart'" (Last 102). Many achievers are encouraged to "act dumb" and hide their intelligence in order to be accepted by their peers. Maizon wishes that she could "find a place where smart black girls from Brooklyn could feel like they belonged" (Maizon 131). She occasionally doubts her abilities and faces the dilemma of either enriching herself or fitting in with her peers. Maizon introduces her class to Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye in a reading assignment, but otherwise is denied her heritage during the educational process.

The main character of Jesse Jackson's novel Tessie would identify with Maizon; attending a private school as a scholarship student, she is considered a "token," a "mistake," a "mascot" who is not a social or intellectual equal of the other students. The only other blacks she sees at the school are janitors, cooks, and maids, and Tessie resolves to achieve for herself and other African Americans. So does Marcus Garvey Williams, an aspiring lawyer and one of a few blacks at Endicott Academy, the "best prep school in the country," according to Valerie Wilson Wesley, in Where Do I Go From Here? Marcus affirms, "'I am here to learn as much as I can so that I can make a difference in the lives of my people'" (2).

Discrimination and classism within the race based on darkness of skin, hair cut, quality of clothes and possessions, and socioeconomic factors divide fictional students. Rural students are dismissed by the urban "elite" despite their academic qualifications. Teachers often have lower expectations for their African American pupils, and an inflexible, irrelevant curriculum restricts pupils. Talented black students suffer and endure humiliation and trauma as they become aware that it is often dangerous to succeed. Peer pressure has equated education with success and the rejection of black culture for white values; children may avoid academic success in favor of social acceptance and security (Kunjufu 38).

Emma Walsh, the main character in Mildred Pitts Walter's Because We Are, is elected to the National Honor Society, dreams of medical school, and is a 4.0 student council member, but she is worried about losing her friends' allegiance because of her desire for perfection and success. "Would the news that had made her so happy become another achievement for which she might have to apologize?" Emma's academic recognition results in her peers calling her "'Oreo'" and "'white-girl.'" She ponders, "Would she forever have to prove her Blackness?" (8-9). Yolonda Blue in Carol Fenner's Yolonda's Genius confesses that "being a good student was easier in Grand River than in Chicago. You didn't have to camouflage being school-smart here. In Chicago it was uncool to get good grades - not a black thing. Who you think you are? (14).

Academic aspirations are often equated with socioeconomic factors and social skills and are labeled with such adjectives as snobby and nerdy. Imamu in Rosa Guy's The Disappearance defines African Americans in his community by their academic aspirations. Living with the Aimsley family, he believes their daughter Gall is a nice person, "but she had to hide it behind being intelligent.... Why did she have to pull class on him?" Imamu divides African Americans into social classes based on their intellectual abilities: "He was the street, ... a high school dropout who had dropped out even while he was sitting in class looking at the teacher" (49-50).

In I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Jacqueline Woodson's main character Marie, a privileged middle-class student, is ambivalent about education, earning high grades one day and low grades the next. Assured of financial security and a place in her father's university, Marie dreams of traveling to find the mother who abandoned her. Academics merely keeps her busy until she receives her inheritance at age 21. She urges her white friend Lena, however, to make good grades in order to earn a scholarship to art school and escape her abusive father. Realizing how secure her academic future is, despite mediocre performances, she lacks motivation fueled by scholastic passion or fear. Her disgusted father scolds her, asserting, "'You can do better than this'" (94).

The home environment portrayed in these novels often affects, both positively and negatively, characters' scholastic achievement. Many fictional African American parents worry about their children being accepted by a good college, usually either an Ivy League school or an historically black campus, and bringing honor to their family. Their goals reflect economic, social, and intellectual concerns. In Nubia Kai's The Sweetest Berry on the Bush, a father in the factually based short story "Seek Knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave" advises his daughter that she "'should pursue knowledge'" (qtd. in Kutenplon and Olmstead 180); she ultimately earns a Ph.D. in engineering.

Yolonda Blue's mother tells her, "'You can do better than I have. You could be the lawyer - not some assistant. You could be the judge, even. A doctor...'" (Fenner 150). Lorenz Graham chronicles in several books the efforts parents make to assure their children academic opportunities. David Williams is ridiculed in South Town for his dream of being a doctor, and his father decides, "'I'd like them to have better schooling than they're getting'" (40). Moving to North Town, David repeats two grades but perseveres because "he had learned that it was hard for any student, and he knew it was even harder for a colored boy" (164).

The children also are concerned, but often have different dreams and hopes for the future. In fact, the scholastic conflicts between fictional children and parents often propel plots forward. Although many characters want to attain such socially prestigious positions as physicians, professors, and attorneys, others dream of being artists, expressing their African American heritage through creative writing, dancing, and painting.

Many students aim to please their academically preoccupied parents. Toni Douglas aspires to pass entrance exams for King Academy in Candy Dawson Boyd's Breadsticks and Blessing Places. Toni's father takes her to the University of Chicago library and guides her around campus, informing her, "'Toni, our dream is for you to go to a fine university like this. Study. Learn. Get a good education.'" He emphasizes, "'Now, what you do with that education is your business, but your mother and I want you to have the tools to make a good future for yourself'" (72-73).

Parents encourage their children through rewards, such as a typewriter for grammar school graduation in Mildred Pitts Walter's Lillie of Watts Takes a Giant Step. Lillie Stevens's mama declares, "'I want to do what I can to help her get a education'" (60). Parents proudly display graduation photos and awards. Isaac Stone, the protagonist in Ossie Davis's Just Like Martin feels fulfilled when his father tells him that he's proud of him because "'you're smart, get good marks, and I'm saving up every month to send you to college'" (40). Some parents combine academic excellence and religious duty. Beth Lambert's mother in Bette Greene's Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe stresses, "'Ain't nothing wrong with ambition, ... The Lord Jesus had it aplenty'" (58).

Many fictional parents hold professional positions or are enrolled in college, seeking career advancement in such challenging classes as computer science. In addition to their work and studies, they are actively involved in their children's schools, visiting classrooms, talking to teachers, attending PTA meetings, and organizing extracurricular projects. Parents go to school to check up on their children's progress. Like parents of all ethnic groups, they realize that schools can be strengthened through such support.

African American parents, however, realize that their children's schools traditionally have been second-class. Denied access to libraries and equal education, generations of talented African American children have had their abilities unacknowledged and dreams deferred. Despite these societal obstacles, African Americans perpetuate a strong interest in scholastic endeavors and hoped for future chances. Author Mildred D. Taylor has emphasized how the principle of "survival" has been taught and respected in African American homes; children have been raised to persevere and not take education for granted. Historically, the desire to learn persisted despite restriction of formal education, and blacks taught each other how to read and write so that their minds could be free (MacCann 117).

Books such as Mildred Pitts Walter's Because We Are discuss African American students' contemporary educational experiences in primarily white classrooms, while works like Camille Yarbrough's The Shimmershine Queens celebrate African American educational experiences where students learn about their heritage while cultivating discipline, dreams, and dignity. Discussion of how black history is either absent from the classroom or incorrectly taught is often addressed in books about African American achievers, such as Rosa Guy's The Ups and Downs of Carl Davis III. In Eloise Greenfield's Sister, racial pride and self-image are bolstered with Afrocentric studies. Role models presented through the study of black heroes - Frederick Douglass, in particular - help to counter the backlash against academic achievers. Characters learn history to create their futures.

Lillie Stevens renews her interest in school through the African American Culture Club and considers college as a goal after viewing an African art exhibit at UCLA. Developing self-determination, she boycotts school when she is refused the right to commemorate Malcolm X's birthday. Her school's cultural club stages a pageant, greeting their schoolmates in Swahili: "'Hello beautiful people! You are intelligent; you are clever and strong'" (Walter, Lillie 152). The students at Gumbo Grove Elementary School celebrate Black History Month and learn that "'you can be anything you want if you put your mind to it'" in Eleanora E. Tate's Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr! (237). Ossie Davis's Isaac Stone desires to attend Morehouse College and become a minister like alumnus Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he idolizes.

Teachers portrayed in these books can reveal the extremes of maliciousness e.g., racist instructors who stymie their pupils' progress - or be nurturing mentors who encourage their students to focus on, and who insist on, success. Teachers submit poems to contests, nominate students for scholarships, and promote students even when the children are unsure of their abilities. The teachers and librarians often invest their own money to buy books and up-to-date technology they consider crucial for children to learn. They stay after school to help. Yolanda Blue's teacher calls her a "'prime candidate'" and "'first draft choice'" for college (Fenner 150). A teacher recognizes Joey Davis's advanced thinking skills and ability in Candy Dawson Boyd's Chevrolet Saturdays, and he is tested and accepted to a program "for gifted young scientists" at the University of California at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science (168-69).

In Virginia Hamilton's Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush, Tree earns "good grades," and "one of her teachers wanted her to take tests for Black Achievement. Tree wasn't too sure about that.... Usually she skipped school when they scheduled those all-day scholastic-average tests. Who need 'era?" Mrs. Cerise Noirrettte, an English teacher from the Caribbean, encourages her, "'I'm telling you truth, deah, Teresah. Yah could be getting full scholarship monies for deh entire college program when you graduate. Yah have dat ability, chad.... All what is needed is deh cone-fee-dahnse, deah, in yah-self.' "Unsure, Tree concludes, "You couldn't tell about teachers. Think they class, ... then they dog you down" (21).

Many intelligent African American characters reflect the same attitudes as Tree because they are frustrated in a school system based on white middle-class cultural values and have been wrongly labeled learning disabled by an uninformed teacher. Black children often suffer, being identified with unfair attributes and incorrect judgments about their behavior and motivation, and they are criticized for using the vernacular. Rosa Guy's Carl Davis Ill, like many gifted African American students, is smarter than his teachers and finds his class work boring and unimaginative. Carl thinks he is enlightening his classmates with his insights on black historical figures, but instead he actually enrages his unappreciative teacher, who considers him a troublemaker and does not like being upstaged. Cassie Logan in Mildred D. Taylor's Roll o Thunder, Hear My Cry is proud that her mother graduated from teacher-training school and battles racism through her intellect; however, Cassie, bored by her teacher's redundant lectures, is warned, "'You'll make no A's by daydreaming'" (182). These books reveal the power teachers have over students' futures, as well as the future of their family and race. Fictional achievers often endure feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and fear of failure; they consider quitting school to be a solution.

On the other hand, identification as a member of the "bright group" and differentiation as gifted and talented foments problems within the African American community. Academic achievers often encounter cruel classmates. Wade Thompson, a mathematical genius in Barbara Cohen's 213 Valentines, does not want to leave the security of his friends at school when he qualifies for a gifted school. One of his friends responds to his announcement, "'That's a drag,' "informing Wade," 'I'd quit school if they made me go all the way across town.' "He suggests that Wade "'just act dumb'" (5). Another African American character, Darlene Worth, considers the new school an opportunity. Brian in Lillie of Watts is ridiculed for his studiousness: "The kids always laughed at him because he walked around with books.... Some said he couldn't read, even. Just showing off" (Walter 128). Nia Jones admits, "'I avoid telling people I go away to boarding school, and I never mention Endicott if I can help it. I don't like them to think I'm showing off, like I think I'm better or smarter than them'" (Wesley 60).

Raisin Stackhouse provides a metaphor for intra-racial academic discrimination in Eleanora E. Tate's The Secret of Gumbo Grove. She explains, "Reverend Walker gave us a sermon about crabs in a barrel once. He said that's how some Black folks were. Didn't want anybody else to move up the ladder and out of the barrel, trying to pull them back down into the barrel with the rest of them" (174). Phyllisia Cathy, who moves from the Caribbean to Harlem, is ridiculed by classmates for her accent, intelligence, and self-confidence in Rosa Guy's The Friends. She narrates her dilemma in class, "I stared fixedly at the blackboard.... I did not feel like standing in the full glare of the children's animosity... to answer any questions.... I had been the star pupil too long always jumping up to let others know how smart I was" (7). Guy's trilogy - The Friends, Ruby, and Edith Jackson - incorporates academic themes while promoting self-determination and success through its characters.

To combat academic antagonism, Camille Yarbrough's The Shimmershine Queens defines the "get-up gift," an inner glow known as "shimmer-shine," which is a feeling that originated during slavery which nurtures dreams for the future and radiates self-respect, inner strength, and pride in African heritage, culture, and values, including education: "'You get it when you do the best you can'" (115). Heroine Angie Peterson's Cousin Seatta tells her that the "'get-up gift raise itself up on knowledge. It shone on knowledge. Dat's what gives you da shimmershine dat lasts.'" She urges her not to allow the fear and hatred of others to keep her from achieving her personal best, stating, "'I know ya gon glory in knowledge. Ya gon be a shinin chile. It ain't gon be easy, but it's gon be grand'" (28). Angie's dancing and acting teacher Ms. Collier promotes personal responsibility for inner growth:

just listen to the get-up gift inside you let it move you, teach you, guide you then you will do your best and stand up tall and shimmershine (141)

Kenny Watson, the narrator of Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, is a smart student whom the other kids call "Egghead or Poindexter or Professor." His peers view his intelligence as something "wrong." Because "I loved to read, people thought I was real smart, teachers especially," Kenny explains, commenting that his teachers treat him differently than his classmates do. "At first I thought it was cool for them to think I was smart but then I found out it made me enemies with some of the other kids." When Kenny, a second grader, is taken to read to other classes, he considers it fun until he looks up and sees that the teachers are "smiling a mile a minute" but "all the kids had their faces twisted up or were looking at me like I was a six-legged dog" (22-25).

Toni Williams's friends at King Academy are scholastically oriented and ambitious. They encourage each other to learn, hanging banners with supportive slogans; usually, only athletes are supported in this manner. Even their teachers attend advanced courses to learn better educational techniques and acquire intellectual resources to enhance the students' lessons. Students experience intellectual epiphanies and are empowered through their success.

Just how is academic achievement defined in juvenile fiction and who has set the standards the characters strive to meet? Richard Wright's Johnny Gibbs feels great pride in achieving all A's on his report card in Rite of Passage. Most characters seek straight A's and are concerned with passing advanced placement tests and earning high SAT scores. For Lillie Stevens, report cards do not reflect her abilities: "She knew she was doing the best she could. She hated grades. Left up to her, if a person was doing the best he could, she would always give C's" (146-47). Yolanda Blue "knew she was pretty smart when measured up against most of the yo-yos in her class. She could talk like her teacher and use long words that most teachers didn't even use." Looking up the word genius in the dictionary, "She closed her eyes and prayed. Do I want to be? Do I? So what if I'm not.... She was hoping the word genius would mean something about wanting to know, being hungry to know things, wanting to shine brighter than anyone" (Fenner 36).

Some schools tie academic success with good behavior. The school featured in Candy Dawson Boyd's book Charlie Pippin has a "Discipline Code" in which children sign a contract promising to complete homework and earn points as "responsible learners," with a prize trip to Disneyland offered to those accumulating the highest scores (28). In Joyce Hansen's The Gift-Giver and Yellow Bird and Me, Doris Williams helps a dyslexic friend study, spends time in the library, and wants to be on the honor roll in order to win awards and secure the teacher's approval.

The positive influences on students in the novels examined can come from many sources. Often siblings in college serve as role models to guide a younger brother or sibling toward higher goals. Lillie Stevens is proud :hat her sister is in college and involved in Lillie's education, sparking her own desire to go to college. Siblings can also be a source of discouragement. Barbra resents her twin brother Billy, who is in the gifted class, while she struggles with homework and is tutored in Emily Moore's Whose Side Are You On ? Family members who have succeeded can inspire students, such as Rose Lee Jefferson, who dreams of being a teacher like her college-educated aunt in Carolyn Meyer's White Lilacs. Nia Jones's aunt encourages her to earn college scholarships: "'You've got to keep your eyes on that prize. Everybody's got a prize'" (Wesley 55).

Visitors to schools also influence characters' academic aspirations. Lillie Stevens listens to a guest from South Africa who tells her class that he is securing an American college education so that he can return home and help his family. Neighbors and community leaders aid characters in achieving their career goals. When Beth Lambert's town doctor hears that she wants to go to college, he promises to assist her because she has "'undeniable talent'" (Greene 56).

Extracurricular activities can reinforce students' aspirations in school. Many academic achievers are also musical prodigies or talented actors and artists and have some consuming activity outside the schoolhouse walls. Sarah in Rosa Guy's The Music of Summer is a serious, disciplined musician who attends Julliard and fears disappointing her family if she does not succeed. Academic achievers seek summer internships in professional offices and study science, mathematics, and black history at college workshops.

African American children's literature also reveals the distractions that affect schooling - including bullies, poverty, and administrative duties - and interrupt classroom time. Student disrespect toward teachers also hampers learning. When faced with this situation, Lillie Stevens imagines herself "standing up in front of the class, saying 'Now, shut up and sit down. You should be seeing to it that Miss Talley learn you something instead of acting so silly'" (Walter, Lillie 126).

African American fictional characters also have to reconcile academic achievements with adolescent changes in their bodies and emotions. In a society where physical prowess is more frequently rewarded than academic achievement, fictional mentors are vital for inspiring young readers to pursue scholastic excellence Characters realize that athletics should be balanced with academics and that sexuality can interfere with future goals; Marcus Garvey Williams, for example, quits school to raise his infant son in Wesley's Where Do I Go From Here? In order to play basketball, athletes must make "good grades" in William McDaniels's Abdul and the Designer Tennis Shoes. In #5 Sky Man of The 18 Pine St. Series, written by Stacie Johnson and created by Walter Dean Myers, students are jealous of basketball player Bill Hedges because they are striving academically to get into a good college while he is assured a choice of schools despite his scholastic weaknesses.

Beth Lambert worries that competing academically with the boy she is romantically interested in might repulse him in Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe In a dream, she is the "number-one best student" and "Philip Hall rushed to congratulate me, 'I likes you even better now than I did when you were only number two'" (17). Beth realizes that she has restrained her talent only to keep Philip's interest and that she must develop her potential to reach her career goal of being her county's first veterinarian She confides that "'being smart can sometimes be a burden'" (58).

Academic anxiety plagues characters. Overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed, some characters work against their own interests, using excuses not to perform better. They discover that, even though they are academically strong, they must struggle to reach their goals Lorraine Maybe is an underachiever in Emily Moore's Something To Count On, and her poor academic performance is an effort to attract attention during a family crisis

Money is another concern that threatens to deflect from achievement. Nia Jones's friend Malika informs her that the college she wants to attend costs more than her mother's annual salary "'I know I'm smart, and I know I could beat any of these rich kids who are going to be applying to the same schools as me if I had a decent chance,'" she asserts. "'The only thing I do is study hard and try to stay on the honor roll so somebody will give me some money to get into college'" (Wesley 75). Work is often more valued than education within the community, and gifted students comply to placate their peers Jesse Jackson's Call Me Charley depicts a father opposed to schooling: "'It's all a lot of foolishness. Charley ought to be thinking about a job instead of keeping his head in a book all the time'" (76).

Sexism also foils African American academic achievers. Female students are most vulnerable In #4 The Test of The 18 Pine St. Series, Tasha Gordon wants to enter a math contest At first, her teacher tries to prevent her entry by only announcing the contest to male students; then he justifies his concealment by saying that girls are not mathematically inclined or competitive. When Tasha places third, he accuses her of cheating.

Fears of racist revenge for academic achievement, and crime and violence in the schools, seriously hamper educational advancement Nia Jones's friend Malika tells her, "'The school I go to is ... boring and dumb. I'm scared half the time'" (Wesley 73). Marcus Garvey Williams talks about people from his grammar school that have died due to violence. Military service is another hindrance, as Walter Dean Myers's Fallen Angels makes clear: Army recruit Richie Perry admits, "My plans, maybe just my dreams really, had been to go to college, and to write like James Baldwin" (15).

Sadly, family members do not always promote academic achievement. Willi wants to be an artist in Dindga McCannon's Wilhelmina Jones, Future Star, but her mother throws out her art supplies, interferes with her creative time, and insists that she take a secretarial course. Although she has high grades, Didi scores low on the SAT because her drunken mother disappears before the test in Walter Dean Myers' Motown and Didi: A Love Story.

Another important aspect of African American academic fiction can be found in the educational attitudes and achievements of authors and how they portray their criticisms of educational standardization. Authors often create a conflict between school routine and conformity versus creativity and individuality, perhaps revealing some autobiographical occurrences. Nikki Grimes's Growin' shows how poet Yolanda Jackson and her artist friend Jim Jim are punished by their teacher and labeled stupid for drawing and writing in class.

Intellectual heroes and heroines are vital in African American children's literature. Readers experience vicarious achievements through fiction and are inspired to prove themselves through academic accolades and commit to their future, their people, and their community. Hopefully, more African American children's literary works will embrace the declaration of Angie Peterson, who, in promising to strive to obtain her personal best, proudly proclaims: "'I'm gonna glory in learnin'" (Yarbrough 34).

Works Cited

Bempechat, Janine. Fostering High Achievement in African American Children: Home, School, and Public Policy Influences. Trends and Issues No. 16. New York: Teachers C, Columbia U, ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, 1992.

Boyd, Candy Dawson. Breadsticks and Blessing Places. New York: Macmillan, 1985.

-----. Charlie Pippin. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

-----. Chevrolet Saturdays. New York: Macmillan, 1993.

Cohen, Barbara. 213 Valentines. New York: Henry Holt, 1991.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963. New York: Delacorte, 1995.

Davis, Ossie. Just Like Martin. New York: Puffin, 1992.

Edelman, Marian Wright. The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

Fenner, Carol, Yolonda's Genius. New York: McElderry, 1995.

Graham, Lorenz. North Town, New York: Crowell, 1965.

-----. South Town. Chicago: Follett, 1958.

Greene, Bette. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. New York: Dial, 1974.

Greenfield, Eloise. Sister. New York: HarperCollins, 1974.

Grimes, Nikki. Growin'. New York: Dial, 1977.

Guy, Rosa. The Disappearance. New York: Delacorte, 1979.

-----. Edith Jackson. New York: Viking, 1978.

-----. The Friends. New York: Bantam, 1973.

-----. The Music of Summer. New York: Delacorte, 1992.

-----. Ruby. New York: Viking, 1976.

-----. The Ups and Downs of Car/Davis III. New York: Dell, 1989.

Hamilton, Virginia. Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush. New York: Avon, 1982.

Hansen, Joyce. The Gift-Giver. New York: Clarion, 1980.

-----. Yellow Bird and Me. New York: Clarion, 1986.

Jackson, Jesse. Call Me Charley. New York: Harper, 1945.

-----. Tessie. New York: Harper, 1968.

Johnson, Stacie. The 18 Pine St. Series: #4 The Test. New York: Bantam, 1992.

-----. The 18 Pine St. Series: #5 Sky Man. New York: Bantam, 1993.

Kai, Nubia. The Sweetest Berry on the Bush. Chicago: Third World P, 1993.

Kunjufu, Jawanza. To Be Popular or Smart: The Black Peer Group. Chicago: African American Images, 1988.

Kutenplon, Deborah, and Ellen Olmstead. Young Adult Fiction by African American Writers, 1968-1993: A Critical and Annotated Guide. New York: Garland, 1996.

MacCann, Donnarae. "The Family Chronicles of Mildred D. Taylor and Mary E. Mebane." The All-White World of Children's Books and African American Children's Literature. Ed. Osa Osayimwense. Trenton: Africa World P, 1995. 115-29.

McCannon, Dindga. Wilhelmina Jones, Future Star. New York: Delacorte, 1980.

McDaniels, William. Abdul and the Designer Tennis Shoes. Chicago: African American Images, 1990.

Meyer, Carolyn. White Lilacs. San Diego: Harcourt, 1993.

Moore, Emily. Something To Count On. New York: Puffin, 1980.

-----. Whose Side Are You On? New York: Farrar, 1988

Myers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels. New York: Scholastic, 1989.

-----. Motown and Didi: A Love Story. New York: Viking Kestrel, 1984.

Tate, Eleanora E. The Secret of Gumbo Grove. New York: Bantam, 1987.

-----. Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr! New York: Franklin Watts, 1990.

Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. New York: Bantam, 1976.

Walter, Mildred Pitts. Because We Are. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1983.

-----. Lillie of Watts Takes a Giant Step. Garden City: Doubleday, 1971.

Wesley, Valerie Wilson. Where Do I Go From Here? New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Between Madison & Palmetto. New York: Delacorte, 1993.

-----. I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This. New York: Delacorte, 1994.

-----. Last Summer with Maizon. New York: Delacorte, 1990.

-----. Maizon at Blue Hill. New York: Delacorte, 1992.

Wright, Richard. Rite of Passage. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Yarbrough, Camille. The Shimmershine Queens. New York: Random, 1989.

Elizabeth Schafer received her Ph.D. in history from Auburn University and studied children's literature at Hollins College.
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Date:Mar 22, 1998
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