Leading the Way
February 19, 2021
February is Black History Month. Here are three new books that honor the contributions of Black Americans. Which one would you like to read first?
Sprouting Wings, by Louisa Jaggar and Shari Becker, tells the true story of James Herman Banning. He was a pilot who built his own plane. In 1932, Banning became the first Black pilot to fly across the United States. At the time, most pilots didn’t look like him. Jaggar told TIME for Kids that she hopes readers are inspired by his story. “Banning wasn’t afraid to have a really big dream,” she says. “For a crazy, really good dream to come true, [it takes] hard work, and you have to really want it.” —By Karena Phan
Nikki Grimes grew up in Harlem, in New York City. She gave her first poetry reading at the Countee Cullen Library, which was named for a poet of the Harlem Renaissance. That was a time in the 1920s and 1930s when Black art flourished in Harlem. “I grew up with the poetry of that era,” Grimes told TFK. “But I noticed how few of the Harlem Renaissance poets I came across were women. So I set out to find them.” Legacy features these women’s poems. Their words are also used to create new poems. “I was able to build a bridge between the past and the present,” she says. —By Constance Gibbs
VIP: Lewis Latimer
Lewis Latimer was a Black inventor born in 1848. He’s best known for improving the lightbulb to make it more affordable. VIP: Lewis Latimer, by Denise Lewis Patrick, is about his life. The book also explores the challenges faced by Black inventors. “Black men and women have been creating—and making history—for centuries,” Patrick told TFK. “It gives me a sense of pride to learn of the many ways African Americans, in particular, have contributed to our country. American history is all our history.” —By Rebecca Katzman